Jim O’Connell

Assistant Vice President of Commercialization - The University of Florida

The University of Florida’s massive research enterprise is the catalyst for Gainesville’s innovation ecosystem. We are approaching $1 billion in total research, and UF Innovate manages the end products of that research—the patents, copyrights, licenses and new startup companies.

As part of UF Research, UF Innovate helps integrate new inventions from faculty into the local, state, and regional economies. It is the umbrella organization that includes Business Development (corporate engagement), Ventures, Tech Licensing, and two business incubators, The Hub and Sid Martin Biotech. In turn, those entities take care of all parts of the commercialization continuum:

Business Development (corporate engagement) acts as the front door for UF commercialization; it is industry’s concierge, which directs them to relevant university units and encourages a broad relationship across all parts of the UF.

Ventures supports the development of “venture quality” technology deals, interfacing primarily with early-stage investors and helping build strong startups. It includes a statewide Entrepreneur-In Residence program and a Venture Fund, investing in UF’s faculty startups.

Tech Licensing is a US Top 5 technology transfer office. UF makes more than 320 deals a year, consistently running “in the black” as a true profit center for the State of Florida.

And our two business incubators—Sid Martin Biotech in Alachua and The Hub in midtown Gainesville are both places and programs that greatly enhance the likelihood of a company’s success. They provide high-quality space for companies, whether they license UF tech or not, and more than 60 companies grow within the nearly 150,000 total square feet of space the two incubators provide.

UF Innovate is driving the entrepreneurial ecosystem in ways that benefit all of North Central Florida and beyond. In addition to what the UF Innovate ecosystem does as a whole, we’ve started the Innovation NaviGator program, which assists any individual who wants to start a business—no UF connection needed. The “Innovate Community Give & Take” is a sharing platform for entrepreneurs, intended to give us all a place to request help or advice as well as a place to offer it to others.

Clearly, Gainesville has a wealth of expertise and vast experience in the collection of entrepreneurs who live and work here. We are also trying to harness that by enhancing the efforts of GEAR.

GEAR is the Gainesville Entrepreneurial Area Roundtable, which meets quarterly and includes leaders from various entrepreneurial support groups and organizations in North Central Florida, including representatives from Santa Fe College, the Cade Museum, SCORE, the Small Business Development Center, the City of Gainesville, Alachua County Economic Development, the Working Food Incubator, The UF Warrington School of Business, and StartupGNV. These UF Innovate assets, coupled with the research power of UF, the regional outreach of all the entrepreneurial support organizations, the terrific quality of life in the area, and the vibrant startup companies in Gainesville make this an outstanding place to start—and grow—a business.

UF Innovate

(352) 294-0885
747 SW Second Avenue
Gainesville, FL 32601

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