Florida’s Tech Community Takes Off

The University of Florida Office of Technology Licensing saw a 43 percent increase in licenses in fiscal year 2015-16 compared to the previous fiscal year, and launched 17 start-up companies.

by Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Fla. / July 12, 2016

(TNS) -- The University of Florida’s Office of Technology Licensing signed a record 122 licenses and options and launched 17 start-up companies in fiscal year 2015-16.

That topped last year’s total of 85 licenses by 43 percent.

It's a vein of entrepreneurialism that Southwest Florida's economic developers are hoping local companies can tap INTO through the new UF Innovation Station Sarasota County, something of an extension office for UF’s engineering college.

The program, headed by former Sun Hydraulics Corp. CEO Allen Carlson, means establishing a “concierge service” for startups, growing and established companies to allow them to access the UF College of Engineering’s students, faculty, intellectual property and other resources.

As to the growth for the Office of Technology Licensing, officials cited a favorable economic climate, more than $700 million in university research and hard work by an experienced tech transfer staff as reasons for the increase.

“Our top-ranked tech transfer operation is driving economic development and cycling royalty dollars back into research,” David Norton, vice president for research, said in a news release. “More importantly, it’s moving the research out of the lab and into the world.”

Some of the companies that are outgrowths of UF's Office of Technology Licensing:

  • Gene-therapy company AGTC, which UF’s technology transfer staff helped found nearly two decades ago. In July, the Nasdaq-listed company based in Alachua became the first UF startup to land a billion-dollar deal when it announced a collaboration with the global biotech company Biogen to further develop gene-based therapies for rare eye diseases, UF said.
  • Banyan Biomarkers, which is on the cusp of bringing a blood test for traumatic brain injury to emergency rooms. That would make the diagnosis of concussions as standard as that of a heart attack. Earlier this year, the company entered a joint development agreement with Royal Philips to develop and commercialize the test, UF said.

“The success of our startups is a huge validation of UF’s efforts in science and of technology transfer,” UF president Kent Fuchs said. “Research discoveries don’t just automatically become therapies that save lives or products that improve our standard of living. It takes research excellence, superb tech transfer professionals and the right commercial partners. We’re fortunate to have that winning combination at UF.”

The Association of University Technology Managers ranked UF eighth in the nation for startups in the 2013-14 fiscal year and seventh for licenses and options completed with companies commercializing researchers’ discoveries. The organization has not yet compiled data for the past fiscal year.

©2016 Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Fla. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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