UF: Innovation Hub spawns 250 jobs in just 20 months
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Innovation Hub at the University of Florida has contributed to the creation of 250 jobs in just its first 20 months, new figures show, and the three-story incubator already has more than two dozen tenants.
“The Hub is a powerful job creation engine for Florida. Not only do we help companies get their start, but we’ve attracted venture capitalists and attorneys from out of state who want access to our entrepreneurs,” said Hub Director Jane Muir. “Most importantly, though, the Hub is a place that is turning ideas into products that improve people’s lives.”
The job numbers cover a period from the Hub’s opening in October 2011 through the end of June. In addition, the newly released numbers show, Hub companies have attracted more than $10 million in private investment.
Data scientists, genetic analysts, social media managers, computer programmers, executives, accountants and attorneys work in start-ups trying to restore mobility to people with spinal injuries, save people’s vision through early detection of eye disease, use genetics to help farmers accelerate and improve their breeding of plants and animals, bring down the cost of smartphones and protect financial information from thieves.
Built with an $8.2 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and a $5 million contribution from UF, the 48,000-square-foot Innovation Hub opened in October 2011 as the first building in Innovation Square, a live/work/play research community just a few blocks from campus and downtown.
It is one of the only incubators in the nation to house a leading university technology-transfer office, service providers and other partner organizations, such as UF Tech Connect and the Florida Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research, which nurture high-tech companies.
“In operation for less than two years, the Florida Innovation Hub at the University of Florida has already achieved things that more than justify EDA’s decision to invest $8.2 million in the construction of the facility — such as receiving LEED Gold Certification, a hallmark for sustainable building; being the catalyst for development of Innovation Square; facilitating public-private partnerships focused on innovation and competitiveness; and, most significantly, creating 250 jobs in its first 20 months of operation,” said U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Matt Erskine. “EDA’s catalyzing co-investment in the Hub is supporting and strengthening the innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem to drive new business creation and job growth.”
For Stephanie Warrington’s company, TrueMotion Spine, the Hub is a first-class space to meet with potential investors — near an airport, an interstate and a major public research university.
Aidan Augustin, co-founder of the mobile software startup Feathr, said he got connected to his law firm, accounting firm, first investor and two of his three advisory board members through the Hub.
Kristi Taylor was working on the launch of her mobile application MonkeyWish at the Hub when she came across a “hack-a-thon” where she witnessed the problem-solving talent of a UF undergraduate. Within days, she had offered him a job, and today he’s the company’s chief technology officer.
“These kinds of things don’t happen in your home office or garage,” Taylor said. “By bringing so many creative problem solvers under one roof, the Hub creates opportunities that none of us would have planned on our own. I have literally answered a question I overheard being asked by other entrepreneurs in the hallway outside my office.”
In addition to the Hub’s current tenants, it has “graduated” startups that continue to grow. Companies that make unmanned aerial vehicles smarter, produce learning software, and develop Web-based simulations to train health care workers have all moved out of the Hub and into more spacious offices in downtown Gainesville.