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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Eights months after the Florida Innovation Hub at UF opened its doors, the startup center has seen about 100 jobs created and $7 million raised in private investments.

Innovation Hub director Jane Muir credits the center’s early success to entrepreneurs, employees and students who are investing their talents in Gainesville. She said UF and Santa Fe College students are taking full advantage of the 48,000-square-foot business incubator and its resources.

“They’re getting involved in all kinds of ways,” she said. “Some of them are founding companies, some are interning and some are working for us.”

Glenn McGraw, 27-year-old CEO and co-founder of Gamedayr website, said without Innovation Hub, Gamedayr wouldn’t have been able to grow. Due to resources and office space the Innovation Hub provided his business, he has added more employees and interns to his staff.

The website covers college gameday culture, including the SEC, the ACC and the Big 12.

Innovation Hub has space for about 30 businesses, according to Alligator achieves. Each company must be a “technology-based startup that plans to develop and market science- and technology-based products,” according to the center’s website.

Chosen companies are required to have semi-annual reviews.

Melanie Battles, a 21-year-old UF statistics graduate student, is among several UF students who are interning at Innovation Hub. She started an internship with Gamedayr in May.

“There’s just a lot of startup companies here,” she said, “which is cool.”

McGraw, a UF engineering alumnus, said Innovation Hub staff has crucially assisted budding businesses.

“They are here for companies like us,” he said. “They couldn’t be more helpful.”

The Innovation Hub will begin an undergraduate program in Spring called Innovation Academy. The program is an opportunity for students to attend UF on a Spring-through-Summer calendar, and gain work experience at Innovation Hub during the Fall semester.

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It is another aspect of Innovation Hub that will make UF students more marketable, Muir said.

She also said it will help reinforce the Innovation Hub’s theory that entrepreneurs don’t need to be business majors. She said good entrepreneurs can vary from art majors to economics majors.

More important, Muir assured students that the Innovative Academy wouldn’t completely lose Fall semester benefits — especially Gators football tickets.

“They won’t be in class,” she said. “But they will be allowed to buy football tickets.”

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