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Sunday, June 23, 2024

UF research projects were given more than $3 million in grants from the Florida Legislature, the Board of Governors announced on Wednesday.

The grant program, established during the 2007 legislative session, intends to help move ideas from campuses to the marketplace, said Bill Edmonds, spokesman for the board, which is the highest governing body for Florida's university system.

Seven other state universities received grants. UF claimed the most money, with seven of 19 awards from the Legislature.

Six "Phase I" grants, worth about $500,000 each, intend to help UF market projects in early stages of developing business plans. The "Phase II" grant worth $250,000 is to help finalize project plans.

Fueling university research will benefit the state economy, which is moving toward being more knowledge-based and technology-driven, Edmonds said.

"Go back 10 years ago - the legislation wasn't funding anything like this," Edmonds said.

He said Florida could no longer depend on agriculture and tourism to sustain itself, especially when less tax revenue has been collected than the previous year for the second time in the state's modern history.

"This knowledge-based economy appears to be where the real action is," he said.

Edmonds said the award amounts aren't huge, but they are big enough to make a "huge difference" and aid those whose expertise is to find ways to market their research.

"You almost develop a sense of tragedy because there are so many great ideas that never get anywhere," Edmonds said. "You can never take luck and personality out of the equation, but we're trying to add another element."

David Day, office of technology licensing director in UF's Office of the Vice President of Research, said research from universities makes them the "engines of the new economy."

Day said UF's awards would fund cancer, autism and Parkinson's disease research. These projects would've gotten by without the grants, but not as quickly or successfully, he said.

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"The rest of the world is always going to be able to offer lower cost goods than us," Day said. "So it is through complexity and technology that we will be able to compete in the world."

Day said the research being funded by the grant program could begin stimulating the sluggish state economy in the next two years.

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