UF: An Entrepreneurial University

"We want to deepen our commitment to entrepreneurship because we …. understand that university ideas and discoveries help to solve the most serious problems facing humanity, from poverty to disease to lack of education."

UF: An Entrepreneurial University

Let me begin by thanking the UF Alumni Association and UF Entrepreneurship & Innovation Center for hosting this third-annual Gator100.

I would like to congratulate all the entrepreneurs whose companies made this year’s Gator100. We applaud your leadership, creativity, persistence and vision. These are surely Gator traits.  We are especially pleased to have you with us, and to recognize your achievement, because you personify our world view here at the University of Florida.

Rather than an ivory tower, we’re fundamentally an entrepreneurial university, focused on innovation both within and beyond the business sphere.

We are proud to be home to a technology commercialization program that consistently ranks among the best at any public or private university in the nation.

Let me pause here to thank David Day for his remarkable leadership in helping UF reach this pinnacle.  Mr. Day is retiring from his position as assistant vice president and director of the UF Office of Technology Licensing. We wish him the best.

UF continues to grow its efforts in technology commercialization, including through an ongoing project to expand our technology incubator, the Florida Innovation Hub.

When Phase II is complete by January, it will double our space for new and growing UF technology startups. We’ll also add a Collaboratory for Women Innovators aimed at reducing the gender gap in the male-dominated technology industry.

Our embrace of innovation and entrepreneurship goes beyond patenting discoveries, licensing technologies and launching startup companies. We have entrepreneurial efforts across UF.

Our College of Journalism and Communications has the Agency, a marketing agency led by professionals and staffed by students with clients throughout the world. The law school operates the UF Entrepreneur Law Clinic that handles corporate and transactional work for student entrepreneurs and others.  Meanwhile young entrepreneurs from many different colleges grow startups in our student incubator, the Gator Hatchery, operated by the Warrington College of Business. We have similar programs in many of our colleges.

Speaking of the Warrington College, I’d like to give an admiring shout-out to John Kraft, who is stepping down as Dean after leading the business college for more than 25 years.  On behalf of all Gators, Thank you John.

As a university, we’re actively engaged in assisting and promoting innovation and entrepreneurship statewide.  Last spring, we launched Innovation Station Sarasota County, the university’s first-ever engineering extension office.

These and other efforts cultivate a spirit of entrepreneurship that spans our institution.  It is a testament to this spirit that this year’s Gator100 executives represent alumni from 12 of UF’s 16 colleges.

What’s more, some of the most successful of UF’s youngest alumni are entrepreneurs, such as Joseph Hernandez, the namesake for our soon-to-be-completed new chemistry building, Joseph Hernandez Hall.

Mr. Hernandez, the son of Cuban immigrants, earned three degrees from UF in the late 1990s, then went on to launch several health- and pharmaceutical-related companies.  Last year, at age 43, he committed $10 million to UF – the youngest donor in our history to make such a large gift.

We want to deepen our commitment to entrepreneurship because we know that our innovations become useful technologies, products or services.  We also understand that university ideas and discoveries help to solve the most serious problems facing humanity, from poverty to disease to lack of education.

Leaders of the Gator100, you are our brightest shining stars in this important endeavor.  As we celebrate your success, we look forward to drawing on your experience and expertise to educate and shape the next generation of Gator100 leaders – and the next steps for our entrepreneurial university. Congratulations, thank you, and Go Gators!