Business Florida 2022 - The Regions
Alachua • Bradford • Columbia • Dixie • Gilchrist • Hamilton • Lafayette • Levy • Madison • Marion • Suwannee • Taylor • Union
North Central is one of Florida’s strongest economic development regions … and with good reason. Home to the University of Florida, the nation’s 6th top-ranked public university and 11th most prolific patent earner in the world, North Central is a natural magnet for talent. Many of the young men and women who first came here as students grow to like this place so much, they put down permanent roots, becoming homeowners, employees and entrepreneurs. For companies with customers and suppliers spread far and wide, North Central offers seamless road and rail connections throughout the Southeastern U.S., as well as ready access to two of Florida’s busiest deep-water ports.
Innovation & Technology
Much of the innovation taking place in Florida’s North Central region is rooted at the University of Florida. In FY2020, despite a two-month pause in most research activities due to the pandemic, UF research spending rose to a record $942.2 million, according to the National Science Foundation. Spending on projects supported by the federal government increased to $397.2 million; state and local expenditures rose to $169.2 million.
University of Florida faculty earned $861 million in research awards in FY2021, the bulk of which — $602 million — came from the federal government. Primary UF recipients of the awards included the College of Medicine in Gainesville; the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences; the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering; and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
And helping innovators move their discoveries from conception to commercialization are two UF-supported incubators — The Hub, in downtown Gainesville, and Sid Martin Biotech in nearby Alachua.
In other tech news:
• UF has begun constructing its 263,000-sq.-ft. Malachowsky Hall for Data Science & Information Technology, which aims to foster collaboration by connecting students and researchers across disciplines. Anticipated opening: April 2023.
• The University of Florida’s new supercomputer — HiPerGator AI — which began running in January 2021 is getting great reviews. Top500, which ranks high-power computing systems worldwide, named it the nation’s No. 1 most energy efficient computer.
• Ology Bioservices, Alachua-based developer of vaccines, antibodies and viral products, has received nearly $200 million in contract awards to support the U.S. Department of Defense’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, Ology is constructing a 43,000-sq.-ft. facility adjacent to its headquarters and will hire 130-150 employees.
• Concept Companies, a national real estate development firm based in Gainesville, plans to build Momentum Labs in the city of Alachua with the goal of providing fully furnished and equipped laboratories for biotech companies in the early stages of development. Construction of a 50,000-sq.-ft. facility is expected in late 2021.
KEY PLAYERS: Axogen, Alachua; ELISA Technologies, Gainesville; Exactech, Gainesville; Ology Bioservices, Alachua; ThermoFisher Scientific, Alachua