By Caitlyn Finnegan
The University of Florida’s Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator has been recognized as the top business incubator in the world for 2013 by the National Business Incubation Association.
The incubator took home two awards at the 27th International Conference on Business Incubation in Boston on Tuesday; one of two Dinah Adkins Incubator of the Year awards for incubators with a technology focus, and the Randall M. Whaley Incubator of the Year Award. The Sid Martin Incubator beat out two other finalists, the Hong Kong Science Incubator and the Technology Parks Corporation Incubator, for the top award.
Merrie Shaw, the manager of the incubator, accepted the awards on behalf on the incubator.
The win comes after eight months filled with company “graduations” from the incubator, millions of dollars awarded in financing and multi-million dollar deals with some of the resident companies, said Patti Lovebreed, the associate director for the incubator.
“We’ve had our best year ever,” Breedlove said.
One of its residents, Pasteuria Bioscience, an agriculture technology company, was acquired by Swiss agri-business Syngenta for $113 million in late 2012. Another resident, AxoGen, received $20.8 million in financing from PDL BioPharma, Inc. to help market its work developing regenerative biomedical technology.
Other recent accomplishments include incubator graduate Applied Genetic Technologies Corp. receiving a $37.5 million round of venture funding in November 2012 and Nanotherapeutics Inc. landing a major Department of Defense contract that will allow them to build a drug development and drug manufacturing facility in Alachua.
“For the past 17 years, we have been building an outstanding program that is customized just for bioscience companies,” Breedlove said. “We have a lot of special resources for them and recognize they are the hardest companies to grow because they take an average of 10 years to get on market.”
The Sid Martin Incubator program is a nest for young companies to have access to facilities, business support and investors and entrepreneurial advisors, Breedlove said.
Since opening in 1995, the incubator has hosted 48 companies and acquired more than $1 billion in funding. The resident and affiliated companies generate an average of $100 million to the county’s economy each year and currently employ more than 1,000 people.
“The city of Alachua is unusual because it has a concentration of bioscience companies that are located very close together,” Breedlove said. “You don’t find that anywhere else in Florida. Much of our success is thanks to the University of Florida’s ability to research new discoveries, spin-off companies and come knocking right at our door.”
The facility is now looking forward to the upcoming “graduations” of now acquired Pasteuria Bioscience, the fast-growing and now publically traded AxoGen and biomarker diagnostic company Banyan Biomarkers.