UF Innovate acts as a hub for organizations that help launch nearly 20 startups a year. The center houses tech licensing, ventures (which helps find investors) and two business incubators — the Hub and the awardwinning Sid Martin Biotech.
- UF InnovateThe Hub
- UF InnovateSid Martin Biotech
- Santa Fe College Center for Innovation and Economic Development
- Gainesville Hackerspace
- Gainesville Area Innovation Network (GAIN)
Sid Martin Biotech
- $4.2 billion — Amount raised in funding and M&A activity in the past 10 years by Sid Martin companies
- 88% — Percentage of resulting companies still operating five years postgraduation
- More than 30 — Number of patents Sid Martin scientists have filed in the past two years
- More than $68,000 — Average annual fulltime salary for an employee in a Sid Martin business
- More than 2,200 — Number of hightech jobs Sid Martin’s graduates have created
Alachua County Snapshot
- 269,956 — Population
- 92% — Have high school diploma
- 41% — Have bachelor’s degree or higher
- $45,478 — Median household income
- $167,000 — Median home value
Innovation and the University of Florida have a long relationship most famously illustrated by Gatorade, invented in 1965 by a UF professor, and the progenitor of a multibilliondollar sports drink industry. Research at UF plays a role in everything from keeping Florida’s crops free from disease to finding new ways to treat brain injuries. To date, the university has spawned more than 160 startups and companies.
The university’s Health Science Center generates about 52% of the university’s research awards. Within the science center are six colleges, including the medical college, major research institutes and UF Health Shands Hospital, a teaching hospital, on one contiguous campus.
Founded in 2006, Biotility at University of Florida educates and trains professionals, students and researchers in biotechnology industries. Biotility partners with industry leaders to identify training requirements and participate in course development.
Honeybees are big business in Florida, as more than 65,000 bee colonies visit and pollinate Florida crops each year. With a reported 40% loss in bee colonies nationwide last year, UF’s entomological research plays a vital role. UF’s $4.5million Honey Bee Research and Extension Lab (HBREL), opened in 2018 through a publicprivate partnership, positions UF at the forefront of research on how to keep bees healthy. At the top of the list is an ongoing HBREL study on how to eradicate Varroa mites, the leading killer of honeybees.
- 20 — Companies launched each year from UF technology licensing
- 10,000plus — Active UF research projects
- $838 million — Amount of research awards last fiscal year
- Almost 300 — Invention disclosures filed in the technology licensing in 2014
- 90 — U.S. patents granted in 2018
- 160 — Startups and companies generated
Targeting Hereditary Diseases
Using gene therapy research from the University of Florida, Lacerta Therapeutics is developing new treatments for rare and often deadly hereditary central nervous system (CNS) disorders such as Pompe disease as well as genetic therapies for Alzheimer’s disease.
Led by President and CEO Joseph Reddy, who was previously Entrepreneur in Residence at the Florida Institute for Commercialization of Public Research, Lacerta Therapeutics employs a team of leading genetic scientists from the University of Florida and elsewhere.
“Our cofounders have dedicated their careers to the development of AAV (adenoassociated virus) gene therapy platforms for the treatment of multiple diseases,” Reddy says. “Lacerta’s mission is to advance these technologies to develop novel treatments for patients with CNS disorders.”
Lacerta, founded in 2017, has already attracted significant outside investment. Last year, publicly traded Sarepta Therapeutics invested $30 million in Lacerta with an agreement to license three gene therapy programs, including exclusive rights to a treatment for Pompe disease.
Lacerta is one of many biotech businesses spawned from the University of Florida and one of 18 startups based at the UF Sid Martin Biotech incubator in Alachua. Sid Martin is one of the nation’s leading biotechnology incubators and has housed dozens of successful biotech companies, including Applied Genetic Technologies, Axogen, Banyan Biomarkers and RTI.
- AGTC uses gene therapy to treat rare illnesses, with an initial focus on eye disorders.
- Anchor Biologics, a startup led by two University of Florida scientists, uses bioengineered enzymes to treat inflammatory disorders.
- Axogen, which started at UF’s Sid Martin, develops technologies to repair nerve damage. It is based in Alachua.
- Banyan Biomarkers, founded by scientists from the University of Florida McKnight Brain Institute, produces the first blood test that diagnoses concussions.
- Feathr, which started at UF’s Innovation Hub, offers a digital marketing toolkit for events and associations.
- Florida Insect Control Group, a startup fueled by UF research, initially developed innovative environmentally mosquito control devices for military use but plans to bring the technology to mass market.
- Fracture is a photo decor company that prints digital images on glass.
- NanoPhotonica produces nanomaterials and fabrication techniques that enable electronic displays to have high resolution, vivid colors and high efficiency.
- Ology Bioservices specializes in developing and manufacturing vaccines and advanced biologics.
- SharpSpring is a digital marketing automation company that has grown from two to nearly 200 employees in just six years.