Innovate June 2017

UF Celebration of Innovation Showcase

Written By: Chris Eversole

The University of Florida’s commercialization of its inventions has received two major honors recently – ending the tenure of David Day, the longtime leader of this work, on a high note. 

In one recognition, UF’s Sid Martin Biotechnology Institute received the Randall M. Whaley Incubator of the Year award for 2017, the highest award given by the International Business Innovation Association. It also won the award in 2013.

The Sid Martin incubator was chosen among 7,500 incubators worldwide for the award, which is sponsored by the Friends of the University Science Center in Philadelphia.     Over its 21-year history, the Sid Martin incubator has served more than 100 startup companies in biotechnology, biomedicine and bioagriculture. Companies that started there have created more than 2,200 jobs, and they have secured more than $1.6 billion in capital and revenue, UF reports.

In the second recognition, the Milken Institute placed UF third in its 2017 ranking of Best Universities for Technology Transfer.

“Our top-ranked tech transfer operation is driving economic development and cycling royalty dollars back into research,” said David Norton, UF’s vice president for research. “More importantly, it’s moving the research out of the lab and into the world.” In April, Day was honored at UF’s Celebration of Innovation, held at the Hilton UF Conference Center.

After 16 years at UF, Day is retiring in July as UF’s assistant vice president and director in the Office of Technology Licensing.

At the event, Norton noted that Day transformed OTL from a small office intent on protecting the university’s share of profits from faculty discoveries to a full-service operation — one of the best such operations in the country.

 “David has been instrumental in putting us on the map for tech transfer,” Norton said.

Maurice Ferre, co-founder of MAKO Surgical, praised UF’s help under Day’s leadership in bringing to market MAKO’s robotics-assisted knee and hip replacement surgery technology, an invention based on UF research. MAKO has been so successful, that Stryker, a major medical device and equipment company, acquired them in 2013.

“UF is the best in class,” Ferre said. “The can-do attitude is a hallmark here.” Day was self-effacing. “I didn’t do all these things,” he said.           

“It was all the great people around me. This is a family, and it’s been a lot of fun to be part of it.”

Day lauded the many inventors the office has supported over the years. He said, “They’re making the world a better place, and we’ve done things together with them.”

The commercialization of UF research has a broad benefit, Day added. “We’re performing our duty of building better jobs in Florida,” he said. The new assistant vice president for technology transfer and the director of the Office of Technology Licensing is Jim O’Connell.     From June 2013, O’Connell was director of the Office of Technology Transfer at the University of Miami. Before that, he spent over five years at the University of Michigan as director of the Michigan Venture Center.

David Day, who is retiring as the director the University of Florida’s Office of Technology Licensing, chats with the incoming director, Jim O’Connell.

Chris Eversole has been a keen observer of business, government and culture in the Greater Gainesville Area while living here over the past two decades. His experience includes work with the University of Florida and Alachua County Government. He also has been a journalist and public relations professional in the Tampa Bay and Sarasota-Bradenton areas, as well as in Michigan, Ohio and New York.

Photos by Chris Eversole

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