Monthly Archives: May 2011

Florida Innovation Hub opens this fall

The Florida Innovation Hub at UF recently gave the world a sneak peek during its topping off ceremony (when construction companies typically celebrate completion of the top of a structure).   The Innovation Hub is a 50,000 sq.ft. “super incubator” and the first component of Innovation Square – a 40 acre public-private development project in Gainesville that brings together science and technology, business opportunities, and retail and residential space in one 24/7 live-work-play research environment.

Its first tenants this fall will be UF’s Office of Technology Licensing and UF Tech Connect, the main commercialization offices for the university who are relocating to help anchor the ongoing “Austinization” of Gainesville.  Innovation Square has also been favorably compared to similar projects at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Purdue University in West Lafayette, North Carolina State University in Raleigh and Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

The next two Innovation Square buildings scheduled for construction were announced last month by University of Florida President Bernie Machen at the UF Technology and Innovation Conference in Gainesville:

  • Infusion Technology Center– a 120,000 sq.ft. building that will house existing science and technology companies.  (It will share an atrium with the Innovation Hub.)
  • A “start-up dorm” for entrepreneurial students.  This first-of-its-kind residence hall is designed as an entrepreneurial-based academic community, complete with a penthouse suite for visiting CEOs and venture capitalists to stay and interact with students.

This new urban research park environment will complement UF’s Progress Park in Alachua, home to 30 companies and 1,200 employees.  Businesses so inclined will be able to choose an urban setting for offices while keeping manufacturing and distribution in Alachua.

Does success always starts with failure?

Success may not always start with failure, but the wise man expects a cameo appearance at some point in the movie.  Choppy seas are inevitable in any venture involving risks – and entrepreneurship certainly qualifies – so any adaptgood entrepreneur-investor partnership relies on a shared understanding of how to best navigate them.

We’ve previously written that the trauma of failure is a great teacher, that innovation can emerge in unexpected ways in its wake, and that when it does occur one must strive to fail the right way.

All three of these points are brought together in the newly published Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure, by Tim Harford – columnist for The Financial Times and the author of “The Undercover Economist.” Harford offers three principles for failing productively:

Variation: be willing to fail… alot.

Survivability: fail on a small enough scale to survive.

Selection: seek feedback, spot failures and fix them early, avoid the instinctive reaction of denial.

This review by Geoff Riley describes how the author recounts the “small cluster of heroes” from which he developed the three principles:

All were people prepared to challenge the conventional wisdom, driven to engage in a never-ending mission to seek out and try new ideas, and most of all, to respond flexibly to a changing environment by spending time on the ground, with a worms-eye view rather than seeking to impose strategies from above. Their successes were not overnight or fleeting, and in some cases undoubtedly changed the course of history for many thousands of people. They were committed to trial and error and willing to recognize failures and set-backs as part of a search to find something better.

UPDATE: (5/24/11):  Tim Harford guest blogs at Freakonomics, where Steven Dubner introduces the book as “examin(ing) the incremental, adaptive ways by which success is achieved across a number of fields.”


Southeast advantage in 25 high growth industries

Wells Fargo has released a study entitled “Employment Dynamics and State Competitiveness” which predicts 25 industries will drive employment growth in the next few years, and ranks states according to their likely ability to capitalize on those trends.  As with previous related studies – see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here – our region performs very well.

The team of economists in their Securities Economics Group credit (among other things) the availability of skilled workers in our region – both homegrown and those drawn to the quality of life.

States with a large number of high-growth industries that also have a large skilled workforce will be at a greater competitive advantage. This would tend to favor states, such as Georgia, North Carolina, Arizona, Virginia and Texas, which not only have a large supply of skilled workers but have also been successful at attracting such workers from other parts of the nation. Florida, which has more high-growth industries than any other state, would be in a stronger position if not for the weakened housing market, which has cut into worker mobility. The Sunshine State is making important enhancements to its university system to bring in more cutting-edge research, and this should pay off with an even better mix of high-growth industries in future years.

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