October 25, 2014

Corner Office

Showcasing Technology

Lynda Keever | 1/1/2005
Venture capitalists need to do a lot of snooping around when they are looking to evaluate emerging research and bring it out of universities as commercially viable technologies. In Florida, the process of visiting labs, talking to professors and becoming familiar with technology transfer programs takes time, mainly because there's such a lot of land to cover.

A number of observers have told me that our state's growing technology sectors could benefit from a coordinated effort. But the jury is still out on whether a coordinated approach is feasible, and it's just one of many factors affecting how successfully research transfers from the university to the private sector.

The real goal is making Florida's innovation sectors more visible, and the state has made significant strides. I can easily think of a dozen major events in the past year that showcased different areas of technology and research through educational forums as well as deal-making activities intended to put companies and investors in touch with the people doing the research.

The fact that there are so many statewide, regional and local entities that have a stake in building our state's knowledge-based economy is good news. Florida's host of universities and their tech transfer offices in addition to independent research and medical firms such as Scripps Florida and Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute are at work on cutting-edge biomedical research that offers practical application in the healthcare arena. These research programs are gaining awareness thanks to the promotion and support of Enterprise Florida and its local economic development partners as well as the Florida Research Consortium, IT Florida, BioFlorida, the Florida Venture Forum, Small Business Development Centers, Workforce Florida, the Agency for Workforce Innovation, the Florida High Tech Corridor, Internet Coast, research parks and incubators and accelerators.

While each organization retains its own members and identity, we all need to be aware and supportive of others' activities. States and regions that are most successful are the ones that get everyone working together for maximum impact.

Enterprise Florida, the economic development group with the mandate to
orchestrate the various parts and pieces of Florida's life sciences strategy, began last year to develop a Technology Entrepreneurship Resource Database. It's a great start toward the statewide goal of building a network of support for Florida's burgeoning life sciences cluster.

"Each day, remarkable discoveries are being made at Florida's universities and colleges that will improve our lives and the world in which we live through their commercial applications," says Enterprise Florida board of directors Vice Chair Bill Habermeyer. "Enterprise Florida and its partners are working to find new ways to bring investors, researchers and entrepreneurs together to propel Florida's ideas from the lab to the marketplace."

The challenge for 2005 is to continue to move Florida's agenda ahead by bringing all the stakeholders to the table to raise our state's profile as a leader in innovation for the benefit of everyone.

I was privileged to work with Steve Mayberry during his long career in economic development and want to wish him well in his retirement. As Enterprise Florida's senior vice president of business recruitment and retention, Steve has been a huge success because he understands the real nuts and bolts of economic development. Gov. Jeb Bush praised Steve's "extraordinary vision, wisdom, strategic and enthusiastic leadership, and an unwavering commitment to providing a higher quality of life for all Floridians." He will be missed.

Tags: Publisher's column

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