UF Innovation District is under new leadership and is working to create a more inclusive environment.
This expansion includes the university working in partnership with Gainesville and the chamber of commerce to bring in new businesses to the innovation district, said David Norton, vice president for UF research.
Jim O’Connell, the assistant vice president for UF Innovate, and Mark Long, director of incubation services at UF Innovate’s business incubator, The Hub, will both be responsible for the management of Innovation Square, Norton said.
“This is being done in order to grow startup businesses from UF technologies and have them blossom into larger companies in that space,” Norton said.
The innovation district will develop by hosting new businesses, Norton said. UF graduates may also attract high-tech companies to be located in the area.
Jim O'Connell and his group at UF Innovate take UF technologies, development and intellectual property patents from the university and look to create new companies and businesses. The businesses start within the incubator space, the Innovation Hub, located at 747 SW Second Ave., Norton said.
Norton said this change will impact Innovation students, by providing jobs for graduate students, especially engineering graduate students, and allowing students the opportunity to see what it takes to be an entrepreneur.
“We're making a very positive impact on our community and what we're supposed to do because our primary business is educating students,” Norton said.
O’Connell said he is good at creating inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystems while UF Development Corporation is good at managing real estate. The innovation district is now shifting the focus from real estate to inclusive ecosystem development.
“I'm not going to sign real estate leases,” O’Connell said, “but I’m going to manage the tactical and strategic development of the land around us that we have put input into and figure out what kind of direction it needs to go in and do that in a much more inclusive way.”