Florida Trend | Florida's Business Authority

Chemical break down

Innovation in Florida

Oxalate is a naturally occurring chemical found in most plant foods and is produced as an end product as the body metabolizes vitamin C. Some who consume foods with high levels of oxalate — including spinach, bran flakes, beets, potato chips, French fries and nuts and nut butters — can develop kidney stones or other problems, particularly if they consume too little calcium and too much protein.

While some people can benefit from a low-oxalate diet, few are actually aware of it. “There’s really nothing out there to assist with that,” says Helena Cowley, CEO of a firm called Captozyme in Gainesville, which she founded with her husband, Aaron.

A subsidiary of Captozyme launched a product last fall called Nephure, a powder that dissolves in beverages and is designed to help break apart oxalate.

Helena Cowley, who earned a master’s degree in bioengineering in her native Sweden, came to Gainesville in 2007 for an internship. While there, she met Aaron, who has degrees in biochemistry. She returned to Gainesville in 2009, and the couple started the company as they researched enzymes to treat oxalaterelated conditions.

The Cowleys earned recognition for their work before launching the product, receiving a Governor’s Young Entrepreneur Award from Gov. Rick Scott in 2015. Cowley hopes their work will lead to more awareness of oxalate and its possible impact.

“It has never been the goal to just push a product,” she says. “We want to be an educational resource.”

Business Briefs

GAINESVILLE — After another private equity firm offered a higher price, TPG Capital raised its offer for Exactech from $42 a share to $49.25. The unidentified competitor made an unsolicited bid of $49 a share, according to regulatory filings. The new agreement increases the total purchase price from $625 million to $737 million. Exactech produces orthopedic implant devices and surgical instruments.

  • â-ºUF Health opened its $415-million UF Health Heart & Vascular Hospital and the UF Health Neuromedicine Hospital. The facility has nearly 100 surgical care patient rooms and 120 ICU patient rooms.
  • â-ºBoston-based Public Consulting Group acquired Focused Management Solutions to expand its services for workforce development, training and placement. Terms were not disclosed, but PCG says it will retain the Gainesville company’s management and staff.

JACKSONVILLE — CSX CEO Hunter Harrison died after just nine months on the job. Harrison’s controversial tenure included 2,000 jobs cut as the railroad overhauled its operations throughout the eastern U.S., resulting in customer complaints about service disruptions. The 73-year-old received an $84-million payment when he took the job, in addition to a four-year contract, to compensate him for payments he forfeited when leaving his previous position. James Foote, who joined CSX as COO just two months earlier, succeeds Harrison as CEO.

  • â-ºThe Florida Times-Union is closing its printing operations, outsourcing the printing of Jacksonville’s daily newspaper to facilities in Gainesville and Daytona Beach. The move, which follows the sale of the newspaper to Gate- House Media, impacts 50 jobs. The company also intends to relocate its newsroom downtown.
  • â-ºArticle, a Canadian online furniture retailer, will open its fourth U.S. distribution center in north Jacksonville. The 319,000-sq.-ft. facility will handle a third of Article’s orders and will employ up to 100 people.
  • â-ºAuto dealer Jack Hanania bought the historic Dyal-Upchurch Building for $2.8 million. The sixstory building was the first multi-story structure built downtown after the Great Fire of 1901. The FDIC lifted a consent order preventing Ameris Bancorp from pursuing mergers and acquisitions The order was lifted after Ameris fixed compliance issues with the Bank Secrecy Act, which it blamed on a software glitch. Ameris, which has its executive offices in Jacksonville, can now go ahead with its purchase of Jacksonville- based Atlantic Coast Financial.

OCALA — The Marion County Commission approved $37,500 in incentives for Texasbased McLane, a wholesale grocery supplier, to open a distribution center. The company promises to create 125 jobs within three years as part of the incentive agreement.

ST. AUGUSTINE — The St. Augustine Glory began play in the American Basketball Association. The Glory plays in the league’s Florida division, which includes the Jacksonville Giants.


  • â-ºJamie Ulmer became CEO of Heart of Florida Health Center, which provides medical, dental and mental health services in Marion County. Ulmer had been COO at Rural Health Services in Aiken, S.C.
  • â-ºAmeris Bank named Dennis Zember CEO. Zember had been CFO of holding company Ameris Bancorp. Edwin Hortman remains CEO of the holding company. Nicole Stokes, who had been CFO of the bank, succeeds Zember as CFO of the holding company.

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