Get to know the matchmakers who work behind the scenes to help local researchers cure disease, make money, bring jobs to Gainesville and cultivate an innovation destination.
Licensing revenue brings in more than $50 million a year to the University of Florida, divided roughly a third for central administration, a third to the scientists and a third to the researchers’ labs and their colleges.
But when University of Florida discoveries become business successes, the limelight generally shines on the scientists and entrepreneurs involved—but a key team is often overlooked. That team is composed of those who work at the Office of Technology Licensing (OTL), the Florida Innovation Hub and the Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator, which can be critical to the commercial success of UF discoveries.
David Day—“the lead matchmaker”— heads both OTL and the Sid Martin Incubator. He works closely with Jane Muir, the OTL’s associate director and director of the Hub, and Patti Breedlove, associate director of the Sid Martin Incubator.
The OTL has multiple responsibilities. In addition to helping researchers bring their discoveries to market, it oversees registering patents and securing licensing agreements that provide a split of revenue.
The Hub is located in Innovation Square, midway between the UF campus and downtown Gainesville. It houses OTL’s offices, serves as an incubator for start-ups based on new technologies and provides places for collaboration among people involved in innovation. Resident companies can focus on improving their technology and market development in a supportive environment.
The Sid Martin Incubator, located in Progress Corporate Park in Alachua, features labs, greenhouses, and scientific equipment for biotechnology-based start-ups.
While the three are well known locally, they’ve brought national recognition to town. A key indicator of their success was a 2006 report by international think tank the Milken Institute, which ranked UF fifth in its University Technology Transfer and Commercialization Index. Then, a 2007 Business Week article titled “MIT, Caltech—and the Gators?” explained “how UF moved to the major league of technology startups,” “whizzing past” Johns Hopkins and Harvard. The National Business Incubator Association recognized the Sid Martin Incubator as the No. 2 technology incubator in the world.
Day, Muir and Breedlove have been directly involved in UF’s efforts to commercialize research discoveries by faculty for more than a decade. Day came to UF in 2001, after heading the technology transfer office at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Muir joined OTL in 1999, after working at the NASA Regional Technology Transfer Center in UF’s College of Engineering for seven years. Breedlove, who previously ran community health centers in several states, came to the Sid Martin Biotech in 1998.
We got the chance to talk with the trio that works day-in and day-out to bring to reality OTL’s slogan: “Where science meets business.”