I attended yesterday’s launch of InnovationSquare and applaud the cooperation between the university and the city to get this launched. UF President Bernie Machen and Brian Beach definitely “get it”, but buildings are only a piece of the puzzle for our best entrepreneurs. InnovationSquare’s success will depend upon everyone in Gainesville’s innovation community including GAIN, the Chamber of Commerce, local entrepreneurs and local investors, but this visionary piece of a 21st century town square is a good one for our companies and our kids. As Gainesville’s only resident VC, I’m pumped — but I’m biased. What do you think? Any thoughts or questions I can answer from attending the announcement?
Here’s some coverage from UF, the GainesvilleSun and Alligator. Full press release below some eye candy to get your mind spinning:
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida officials today unveiled plans for Innovation Square, a large-scale development capitalizing on university research to be built on Southwest Second Avenue between the UF campus and downtown Gainesville.
The 10-plus-year project is described as “a game-changer” for the entire community.
During a luncheon at Emerson Alumni Hall for more than 150 community leaders, including city and county elected officials, businesspeople and representatives from UF and Santa Fe College, UF President Bernie Machen and Brian Beach, senior vice president for administration and business ventures, laid out a plan for what they described as “a 24/7 live/work/play urban research park environment.”
When it’s finished, Innovation Square will consist of more than 1 million square feet of space on 40 acres. The project is expected to provide 3,000 creative-class jobs.
“I think Innovation Square will redefine Gainesville and its future,” Machen said.
UF’s Office of Technology Licensing will relocate to Innovation Square, joining Florida Innovation Hub, a business “super-incubator” designed to promote the development of new high-tech companies based on UF research. Construction began in June, and the hub is slated to open next fall.
Companies will be recruited from around the country to locate at Innovation Square, venture capitalists will want to be part of the project and startup companies will blossom, Beach said. Innovation Square also will include retail space, restaurants and local businesses, as well as residential space for people to live.
The heart of the project, Beach said, will be Southwest Second Avenue, which will serve as a vital link between campus and downtown. The Ayers Building, he said, will be reconfigured to provide accelerator space – that is, space for emerging companies that have grown beyond incubator space but aren’t quite ready for the bigger spaces that will occupy Innovation Square.
Machen and Beach stressed that Innovation Square is, above all, a project that will require the efforts of the entire community, not just the university.
“This is not a UF development; it is not the UF campus; and it is not UF buildings,” Beach said. “It will be predominately on the tax rolls. Innovation Square will represent the very best in public-private partnerships.”
Beach compared Innovation Square to similar projects at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Purdue University in West Lafayette, North Carolina State University in Raleigh and Georgia Tech, as well as UF’s Progress Park in Alachua, launched 20 years ago and now home to 1,200 employees and 30 companies.
“However, I think that it is fair to say that none of those locations compares to the unique, special location of Innovation Square,” Beach said.
Thanks for stopping by. In case we haven't met before, I'm Dan Rua, Managing Partner of Inflexion Partners, an early-stage venture capital fund based in Florida and focused on the Southeast US. Prior to Inflexion I was a partner with Draper Atlantic, DFJ's first east coast fund based in Northern Virginia. Prior to that I co-founded an email software company and was an engineer with IBM's Networking Software Labs in RTP, NC.
This blog is for sharing stories and discussing entrepreneurs, venture capital, technology, and Florida -- particularly when I can provide perspective unique from the typical Boston (B) or Silicon Valley (S) view. Inflexion is my third fund and all my funds have focused on building world-changing companies in regions outside the BS...