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September 25, 2018

Up Front - The Publisher's Column

Research success in Florida

Andrew P. Corty | 8/26/2016

Arthrex is the poster child for a successful research-oriented company — and it’s right here in Florida.

Based in Naples, $1.9-billion Arthrex employs 2,300 Floridians. And this summer, it announced plans to add 500- plus jobs, with a potential for as many as 1,000.

The medical device manufacturer holds 919 patents and manufactures 9,500 products.

Founder and CEO Reinhold Schmieding deserves much of the credit. Born in the U.S. to German parents, he became an early expert in arthroscopic surgery and designed many of the medical devices himself. He’s also an astute executive.

Forbes magazine ranks Schmieding No. 8 on its self-made billionaires list, with a net worth of $4.6 billion.

I took six lessons from the article about Arthrex.

» By all accounts, Schmieding is an entrepreneurial genius. It takes a visionary to grow a large enterprise.

» Arthrex jumped into arthroscopic surgery at its infancy. It helps to ride the crest of a huge wave.

» Schmieding works hard.

» $1.0 billion of Arthrex’s annual sales come from exports to more than 100 countries. Internationalism counts.

» Schmieding’s company treats employees with great care, offering incredible benefits, which is one of the reasons it made Florida Trend’s “Best Companies to Work For” list.

» Arthrex is an active member of the community, donating money while also allowing employees time off to volunteer.

The key, as every business incubator knows, is to provide a warm environment that enables collaboration, which in turn allows ideas to flourish.

Research Florida doesn’t end with Arthrex. Sanford Burnham Prebys at Orlando’s Medical City has its own interesting story. Win Phillips, a leader at the University of Florida, points out that despite a few failures, the effort to bring the life sciences industry to Florida has been a huge success, noting that Florida is now “on the world life science map.” 

One indicator of the state’s success is the growth in National Institutes of Health funding. Florida organizations reaped more than $520 million last year, an increase of $180 million over the past decade.

Nova Southeastern University is partnering with Sweden’s Karolinska institute, which Alfred Nobel selected to determine who should win the Nobel prizes in medicine each year.

Florida Atlantic University opened the Brain Institute headed by renowned neuroscientist Randy Blakely. The Florida Institute for Oceanography has a new chief. UCF added a researcher who contributed to the Human Genome Project, and other schools have made similar high-profile hires as well.

And I’m super excited that University of Florida researchers say they have developed a way to stop “ransomware” — which occasionally infects all of our computers. Nothing could be better.

Electric utilities have a new mantra. Not only do they strive for higher efficiency and lower rates, they have also taken on economic development, creating shovel-ready sites and hiring teams to cultivate business prospects. Read about their efforts in the Economic Backbone section. You’ll also find a list of key Florida electric companies — called TopRank — with investor, municipal and cooperative groupings.

— Andy Corty


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