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Spinning Off Jobs

The recession might not seem like a logical time to launch a business, but partners in two entrepreneurial projects linking economic development and higher-education acumen think it’s a fine time. "This is the time for entrepreneurial ideas to flourish," says John F. Azzaretto, vice provost at the University of West Florida, which is working on populating its new incubator. At Florida State University, officials are stepping up commercial enterprises based on university research.

Jerry Pfeiffer
Jerry Pfeiffer
UWF, EDC Team Up to Create Jobs

> The Economic Development Council of Okaloosa County in August signed its first tenant, a company called Government Support Jobs, at its new Innovation Center. The EDC’s first incubator project occupies refurbished space at the University of West Florida’s W.E. Combs campus in Fort Walton Beach. Jerry Pfeiffer, owner of Government Support Jobs, and six employees match job hunters with government contractors, using an industry-specific correlation algorithm.

> About half of the 10.5 million federal government contracting jobs turn over annually, says Pfeiffer, who’s had 23 years’ experience in government contractor and military roles. "All the government branches are hiring."

> Benefits of being in the incubator? Says Pfeiffer: Access to successful local leaders, potential clients and university expertise — plus "wonderful facilities."

> Benefits of UWF hosting an incubator? "We’re hoping some of our business students will be interns," says Azzaretto.

Lester Hutt
Lester Hutt
FSU Steps Up Tech Transfer

> Florida State University signed its first license agreement recently in a stepped-up effort to accelerate local business startups based on university technology. As a result, Lester Hutt, scientist-turned-consultant-turned-entrepreneur, is helping art connoisseurs splatter their walls with enlarged molecular images of their favorite beers, wines and cocktails — images microscopically created by national High Magnetic Field Laboratory research associate Michael W. Davidson.

> Hutt sees local tech-transfer startups, such as his new business, BevShots MicroArt, as a way to channel national sales dollars which might otherwise go elsewhere and provide jobs for talented college graduates. More startups are in the pipeline, says FSU.

> FSU initially hired Hutt — who once worked with Apple on its iPod development team — to help sort viable research and write the tech transfer business plans. Part of the deal: "I could pick one to start myself."

> Davidson’s artwork has appeared in more than 2,000 periodicals and books. Photomicrographs of ordinary things, he says, "help bring microscopy to folks who otherwise would never be exposed to this beautiful world."