Gainesville, Fla. — It’s great to be a Florida Gator –- especially when Florida is ranked the number one state for innovation, and Gator Engineering is the secret ingredient behind a bundle of successful start-ups.
With the help of UF’s Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator – recently named “Incubator of the Year” by the National Business Incubation Association (NBIA) – Alachua-based Nanotherapeutics has grown into an attractive enterprise. Last month, the Department of Defense (DOD) signed a contract with the company to build a drug development and manufacturing facility in Alachua. The contract could bring in as much as $360 million over 10 years, and add as many as 150 new employees – each with an average salary of $90,000. Nanotherapeutics originated on the UF campus at the Particle Engineering Research Center (PERC) as a collaboration between graduate students and faculty from the College of Engineering (COE) and the College of Medicine (COM).
The Florida Innovation Hub at UF is home to another startup, Feathr, a mobile application development company begun by two Gator Engineering undergraduates. Feathr turned down several investment offers, with the hopes of working with the Tampa Bay chapter of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE). TiE recently agreed to pay Feathr $150,000 and offer business development guidance over the next year, in exchange for 20 percent equity in the company. This will provide Feathr’s seven existing staff members the opportunity to work full time at developing an up-and-coming application for conference attendees.
Fracture was started by two UF alumni, including a chemical engineering graduate. The company prints digital images directly onto glass. Their customizable product has been well received, and the company has enjoyed continual growth since it opened its doors in Gainesville in 2009. Fracture just received $500,000, on top of an initial $410,000 from the Tamiami Angel Fund. They intend to use this money to increase their sales and marketing efforts.