Notable Firms & Developments
» The Florida Innovation Hub at UF is under construction between campus and downtown, with $8.2 million from the federal government and a $5-million commitment from UF. The 45,000-sq.-ft. facility is hoped to be a catalyst for startup companies based on UF technologies. The hub will provide the spinoffs with office space, labs, conference rooms and other resources. It also will house UF's Office of Technology Licensing. Related private firms, such as intellectual property law firms and venture-capital investment firms, are already onboard for space as well.
A rendering of the Florida Innovation Hub at UF, a 45,000-sq.-ft. facility meant to be a catalyst for startup companies based on UF technologies.
» The hub is part of a master plan known as Innovation Square, which UF leaders describe as "a 24/7 live/work/play urban research park environment." When it's finished, Innovation Square is expected to have more than a million square feet of space on 40 acres. Beyond the Florida Innovation Hub, UF officials stress that it will be a private development with private buildings on the tax rolls — "the very best in public-private partnerships."
» As the largest landowner in Alachua County with 70,000 acres of forestland, Plum Creek Timber could have an enormous impact on the city in the decades to come. (Plum Creek is the largest private landowner in Florida and in the United States as well.) The Seattle-based timber company opened its Florida headquarters in Gainesville in 2006 with an eye toward possible development to the north and east of the city. It has built many connections with UF — Plum Creek's board met in Gainesville last fall, with UF President Bernie Machen as speaker — and so far has been a good environmental steward, with 24,000 of its local acres in conservation easements. Some wishful thinkers say that Plum Creek's acreage on the east side of the county, combined with UF's academic research muscle, could someday lead to a large science/real estate deal on the scale of Scripps, Burnham and Torrey Pines research institutes in other parts of Florida.
» The Cade Museum for Innovation and Invention is planned for Gainesville's Depot Park, where the 55,000-sq.-ft. facility will also be a significant environmental reclamation and urban renewal project for the east side. The museum is named for Dr. James Robert Cade, best known as the inventor who led the UF team that created Gatorade. It's already having a significant impact on Gainesville's innovation economy, with the $50,000 Cade Prize for Innovation being awarded for the second year to a Florida inventor who needs seed funding.
• Building Green
» Local firm PPI Construction Management has created a niche in sustainable academic construction and is building UF's new Innovation Hub, among other projects around the state.
• Brainy Work
» On a funding and hiring spree as it nears its 10th anniversary, Banyan Biomarkers last fall landed a $26.3-million Department of Defense contract for work on its diagnostic tests for traumatic brain injury.
» A younger Alachua company spun out of UF's Brain Institute, Optima Neuroscience, landed $2.5 million in early-stage funding from a group of angel investors and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Optima is developing hardware for its seizure-detecting brain-monitoring technologies.
• Major Employers
» University of Florida, 13,300
» Shands Hospital, 12,588
» Malcom Randall Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 4,317
» Alachua County School Board, 4,299
» City of Gainesville, 2,200
» Publix Super Markets, 2,056
» North Florida Regional Medical Center, 1,700
» Nationwide Insurance, 1,300
» Walmart (distribution and retail), 1,240
» Alachua County, 1,120
» SantaFe HealthCare, 856
» Santa Fe College, 796
» Gator Dining Services (UF's food contractor), 625
» Dollar General Distribution Center, 624
» Meridian Behavioral Health, 620
» Tower Hill Insurance, 500
» RTI Biologics, 484 (at the Alachua campus)