The University of Florida will receive $8 million in federal funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration toward construction of Phase II of the Florida Innovation Hub, a 50,000-square-foot building adjoining the original business super-incubator at Innovation Square.
In announcing the grant on Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said, “The EDA investment will ensure that innovators and entrepreneurs in and around the University of Florida have a place to develop their ideas and build their businesses to make the region more competitive in the global economy.”
Phase II will provide much-needed expansion space for technology startups near UF, the state's leading generator of commercializable technology, said Jane Muir, director of the Innovation Hub.
“Several companies in the Florida Innovation Hub are projecting significant growth in the near future and will need expansion space that is not readily available in Gainesville,” Muir said. “In addition, Phase I is operating at capacity and needs additional space to accommodate demand.”
Companies that start in an incubator are four times more likely to succeed than those that don’t, Muir said, but “technology-based startups require a considerable amount of nurturing from numerous sources in order to be successful.”
Phase II will also include an Entrepreneurial Woman’s Center to provide ongoing assistance to women, who are underrepresented in the “entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
“A shortcoming of UF’s Empowering Women in Technology Startups program is the lack of follow-up support to participants after they have been through the program,” she said. “This will allow women entrepreneurs to continue to the next stage.”
The university is investing $9 million toward the project in expectation that it will continue the impressive record of commercialization seen at the original Innovation Hub.
“In its first three years, Phase I of the Innovation Hub assisted 60 companies, resulting in 760 jobs and $50 million in private investment,” said David Norton, UF’s vice president for research. “We’re confident that this second phase will continue this unprecedented record of success.”
UF President Kent Fuchs said, "The expansion of the Innovation Hub will enable UF to go even further in its mission to create and grow innovative, high-tech companies that will drive future economic growth within the state of Florida."
Muir said the project is targeted for completion within 36 months.