Features October 2018

Resource Rich: UF Innovate | The HUB Offers even more after doubling in size


Written By: Mark S. Long

In January, The Hub opened the doors to an expansion that doubled the building to 100,000 square feet. The mixed-use business incubator has served startup companies in biomedicine, agricultural technology, food sciences, information technology and other areas since October 2011.

The building – including both the old and new sections – is more than 75 percent full, incubating about 50 companies.

“Starting out at The Hub instantly elevates the professionalism of your company by both the available resources and presentation through world-class work spaces and conference rooms,” said Hub resident client Al Fosmoe. Fosmoe is CEO of AuxThera, which markets Trimauxil, a health care product that benefits overweight pets.

Many of the companies are formed directly from University of Florida intellectual property, while others have come to The Hub from all over the world.

“The access to professional service networks and experienced advisors was what first drew us to The Hub,” said Hub graduate Helena Cowley, CEO of Captozyme, a research and development company specializing in oxalate-degrading enzymes — enzymes that remove the most common cause of kidney stones. “The overall environment of encouragement and innovation at The Hub really helped us to take that next step as a company.”

The convenient location of The Hub – just a couple of blocks from the UF campus – provides an ideal spot for startups to take advantage of the research power of UF, a more than $800 million research enterprise.

As part of the UF Research Foundation, the incubator works closely with UF Innovate | Tech Licensing – which is housed in The Hub – to capitalize on the innovations of UF researchers. The Hub has a full program of entrepreneurial training, an 11-member advisory board and a comprehensive network of support for startups.

“The Hub has introduced me to great advisors who have been invaluable to me, helping me and my company grow and succeed,” said Benjamin King, CEO of HealthSteps, a resident client developing an app that facilitates patient-physician communications and compliance.

Previously called the Florida Innovation Hub, UF Innovate | The Hub was named the “Innovation Hub” before the term became popular.

UF Innovate is the umbrella organization covering The Hub, Sid Martin Biotech in Alachua and the Tech Licensing office.

Resident and affiliate clients at The Hub can access the UF library system, and each startup is assigned an advisor who is an experienced entrepreneur and/or a subject matter expert. Companies receive significant exposure to funding sources via networking and matchmaking events as well as introductions to investors. They also have flexible space and surroundings to optimize growth.

Pheronym founder and CEO Fatma Kaplan is developing nematode-focused pest control. She credits her success as the first company of its kind with what she calls “entrepeneurial catalysts” – incubators, accelerators and mentorship programs.

“They speed up technology development by lowering barriers such as the need for funds, infrastructure and more,” Kaplan said. “They help startups focus on developing their technology.”

The Hub provides specialized wet laboratory facilities for bioscience companies, large customized spaces for light manufacturing and engineering and office space of varying sizes for information technology and service companies.

The incubator has nine conference rooms of varying sizes available with advanced audiovisual capabilities, a lobby/reception area, a coffee bar and breakrooms for clients. The many affiliated service organizations of The Hub provide legal, accounting, human resources, insurance and other services at qualified discounts for Hub clients.

Hub sponsors include Gray Robinson (who offers “Business Coach for a Day” at The Hub), James Moore accounting, Ameris Bank, Pepine Realty, Hutchison Law and Wolf Greenfield. The Hub is flexible; as you grow and your space needs change, they can adapt to assist your company toward success.

But more than perks, The Hub offers entrepreneurs inspiration and encouragement.

“The Hub is a wonderful environment in which to be around other highly motivated and supportive entrepreneurs like myself,” King said. “I would encourage anyone with the determination to launch your idea or business to check out The Hub.”

UF Innovate | Sid Martin Biotech, UF’s biotechnology incubator located in the Progress Corporate Park in Alachua, complements the facilities and programs at The Hub.

Some companies get their start in one of UF’s incubators but move to the other one when their needs change. Kaplan’s Pheronym is one such company.

To further its efforts to bring nematode pheromones to market, her company, which started in The Hub, needed the expanded lab equipment offered at Sid Martin and moved there earlier this year.

“The agreement provides us many necessary things such as library access, reduced rate for the core labs at UF, shared equipment, greenhouse access when needed, waste disposals and safety-related training lectures for our employees,” Kaplan said.

“The incubators are not ‘one size fits all’ for small business; they work with each company to find the fit that works best for them,” said Cowley of Captozyme, whose company started in The Hub and then incubated at Sid Martin Biotech before moving into its own space in Gainesville. “As we have grown over the years, the incubators have offered support that aligns with the different stages of our development.”

The motto at UF Innovate | The Hub is “We help build, grow and support the spirit of entrepreneurship in North Central Florida – and the world!” – and the byline of UF Innovate | Sid Martin Biotech is “We help entrepreneurs fuel, feed and heal the world.”

They take these statements as a serious declaration of their mission, making it a priority to get startup companies what they need to succeed. Come and visit the “hub” of entrepreneurial activity in North Central Florida and join in their efforts to make Florida “The Sunshine Startup State!”

Leave a Comment