With a bold vision for accelerating growth in this region’s innovation economy, the University of Florida College of Engineering will open the first UF Innovation Station in Sarasota County. It will be a physical extension of UF’s Florida Engineering Experiment Station, affording businesses and entrepreneurs unprecedented access to tech workforce talent, applied research, faculty and intellectual property. In recognition of the potential economic development impact of this opportunity, the Sarasota County Commission unanimously approved today an activity-performance-based grant agreement to help launch the Innovation Station.
“Having the UF Innovation Station here in our backyard will be a game-changer for Sarasota County, one that will accelerate our economic diversification by strengthening our ability to compete for and grow innovation economy businesses.” The Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation is the lead philanthropic partner and awarded a five-year, $980,000 grant. Gulf Coast Community Foundation made a one-year grant of $63,000, and an additional $1 million will be provided by the University of Florida. The UF Innovation Station is expected to open within six months in 1,000 to 1,500 square feet of leased office space in Sarasota County. However, UF representatives will be in Sarasota County in the meantime working to strengthen existing industry connections and foster new ones.
One new connection is with the State College of Florida (SCF), who will partner with UF to host engineering students on their Venice campus beginning the fall of 2017 for their first three semesters. These students will transfer to the UF College of Engineering for their fourth semester, reverse transfer credits to be awarded an Associate Degree from SCF, and continue work on their bachelor’s at UF. SCF President, Dr. Carol F. Probstfeld (shown below) said the program will create internship opportunities for students and build relationships that lead to employment upon graduation.
With two accelerators on the Gulf Coast (the private HuB in Sarasota and the public Station 2 in Bradenton), one of the best SCORE chapters in the country, and an entrepreneurship/community development curriculum at State College of Florida, Sarasota-Bradenton is well positioned to become a destination for start-ups businesses.