Business Florida 2021 - The Regions
Alachua • Bradford • Columbia • Dixie • Gilchrist • Hamilton Lafayette • Levy • Madison • Marion • Suwannee • Taylor • Union
Florida’s North Central is a region on the move. From technology and health care to ready accessibility and quality of life, everything about this region is top of the line. Home to the University of Florida, the nation’s 7th top-ranked public university and 15th most prolific patent earner in the world, North Central easily snags workforce talent — first as students, then as permanent residents and entrepreneurs who help to fuel both innovation and this region’s reputation as a great place to live. And for companies whose customers and suppliers are spread far and wide, North Central offers seamless connections to all of the Southeastern U.S. as well as two of Florida’s busiest deep-water ports.
Innovation & Technology
Much of the innovation that takes place in Florida’s North Central region can trace its roots to the University of Florida, which is currently ranked No. 1 in the nation at leveraging its research funding into new companies, new jobs and new ideas according to a report by the George W. Bush Institute and the Opus Faveo Innovation Development consulting firm.
In FY2019, University of Florida research spending rose 7.3% to a record $928.6 million, according to the National Science Foundation. NSF’s Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) Survey showed a nearly $64-million increase in expenditures over the previous year’s record of $865.1 million.
University of Florida faculty earned a record $900.7 million in research funding during FY2020. The total amount of 2020 funding represents a 16% increase over 2019 and surpasses the previous record of $837 million set two years ago by more than $63 million.
Over the past 10 years, research awards to UF have increased 45% from $619 million in 2011. UF-acquired research dollars in 2020 represented a broad spectrum of fields, including medicine, engineering, agriculture and liberal arts and sciences, as well as varied federal sources, such as the Departments of Defense, Education and Health and Human Services; the National Science Foundation; National Institutes of Health; and USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Encouraging innovators and helping to commercialize their discoveries are two UF-supported incubators — The Hub, located in downtown Gainesville, and Sid Martin Biotech in nearby Alachua, which in June 2020 was named “Incubator of the Year” for the third time in a decade by the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA). Since opening in 1995, Sid Martin Biotech has successfully incubated 108 startups.
In other North Central tech news:
• Thanks to a $50-million gift — $25 million from UF alumnus Chris Malachowsky and $25 million in hardware, software, training and services from NVIDIA, the Silicon Valley-based tech company he founded — UF will be the first U.S. university to acquire the world’s most advanced AI system and the fastest in higher education. Working closely with NVIDIA, UF will boost the capabilities of its existing supercomputer, HiPerGator, thus giving faculty and students the tools they need to apply AI to improve lives and grow the economy.
• Alachua-based biopharmaceutical company Ology Bioservices has received $53 million from the Department of Defense to develop and manufacture an antibody treatment and vaccine for COVID-19 and other viral diseases. The company, which employs 200, is charged with developing the vaccine for U.S. Defense officials.
• Gainesville-based digital tech company etectRX has received FDA clearance for its ID-CAP digital technology system, which verifies medicinal dosage to patients and physicians. Developed by University of Florida graduates, the ID-CAP system consists of a sensor inserted into a pill which, once ingested and activated by the patient’s stomach fluid, sends a digital message to a reader worn around the patient’s neck to verify that the medicine was taken and in what dosage. The reader forwards the data to a mobile app and the sensor itself is eliminated via the digestive process.
• San Felasco Tech City continues to be under construction in Alachua County. The development, which is the brainchild of two local CEOs — Mitch Glaeser, of the Emory Group Companies, and Rich Blaser of Infinite Energy — will encompass 82 acres, with 300,000 square feet of tech space as well as 252 single and multi-family housing units.
KEY PLAYERS: Axogen, Alachua; ELISA Technologies, Gainesville; Exactech, Gainesville; Ology Bioservices, Alachua; ThermoFisher Scientific, Alachua