By Lynn Laurenti
The Research Park at FAU, a well-established engine of economic growth in South Florida, is looking to broaden its horizons in the years ahead.
“The university has begun to be much more active in its efforts to interact worldwide, and we want to support that,” said Andrew Duffell, the park’s president. “We want companies everywhere to understand that it’s not necessary for them to relocate their headquarters facilities here. They could establish small research units that align with the interests of FAU researchers.” Of course, larger organizations are also welcome to join the park’s roster of heavy hitters, which includes five-time Inc. 5000 honoree Modernizing Medicine.
The only university-affiliated facility of its kind in South Florida, the park is moving forward from its already strong position. In 2017, its 33 high-tech tenant companies employed more than 3,000 people at an average annual salary of $88,315. Those employees included nearly 200 FAU interns and graduates. With locations in Boca Raton and Deerfield Beach, the park’s regional economic impact exceeded $535 million in 2017.
“The focus going forward is on deepening the intellectual contributions to the economy,” Duffell said. “We’re always seeking opportunities for private sector companies to collaborate with FAU’s researchers in areas of importance to our regional economy.”
Two very special features of the park are its Technology Business Incubator and FAU Tech Runway. Startup and emerging companies in the incubator receive valuable business and mentoring services, with the goal of helping them become established companies and permanent residents of the park. Fifteen young enterprises are currently benefiting from the incubator’s services.
FAU Tech Runway is a public-private partnership that provides a wide range of services to accelerate the development of innovative startup companies. Since its inception in 2014, it has launched 52 companies, which collectively have raised more than $46 million in capital, created nearly 300 jobs and generated more than $23 million in sales revenue.
One example of the ingenuity being nurtured at FAU Tech Runway is Nesvio, a contract-free, affordable, subscription-based company that connects immigrants with internet, Wi-Fi and live-streaming cable from their home cultures in Central and South America, the Caribbean and Africa. In addition, Nesvio provides these services to members of the U.S. military stationed around the globe. The Lake Worth-based company, also a Florida Small Business Development Center at FAU client, has doubled its revenue in two years.
From helping new entrepreneurs succeed to spurring the growth of established industries, the park continues to transform South Florida’s economy. “Collaborations between FAU researchers and members of the business community give us the opportunity to translate what we do to the marketplace,” said Daniel Flynn, Ph.D., FAU vice president for research and treasurer of the park’s governing board. “We want corporations to know that we want to work shoulder to shoulder with them to solve problems.”
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