A recently updated study of UCF's Business Incubation Program shows big gains in jobs and economic impact.
By strict definition, incubation means “maintaining something at the most favorable temperature for its development.”
For the University of Central Florida’s Business Incubation Program, add the words “to broaden in physical size, operational scope and economic impact.”
A recently updated study of the Business Incubation Program, conducted by Orlando-based WHOwen Consulting, reveals a total economic output from client and graduate companies that exceeds $360 million annually.
Between 2011 and 2009, the program grew from four to nine facilities across the region, producing nearly 1,500 new jobs in Metro Orlando, with earnings of more than $62 million annually. Meanwhile, the program’s success rates increased substantially—the number of active client companies rose from 70 in 2009 to 118 in 2011, and the aggregate number of employees of those companies rose from 303 to 721. Using an industry standard “multiplier effect,” those 721 new employees generated another 672 jobs within Metro Orlando.
Notably, all of this occurred in the midst of a severe national and statewide economic downturn.
“By helping emerging companies in their early years, we are making a significant impact on the Central Florida economy and creating high-wage jobs that benefit our region,” cites Tom O’Neal, UCF’s associate vice president for Research & Commercialization and executive director of the UCF Business Incubation Program.
Since its inception, the incubation program has serviced and housed more than 200 emerging companies, including 130 clients as of February 2012. More than 69 companies have graduated from the program. The total direct economic output of the graduated companies that have remained in Metro Orlando is estimated at $94 million annually; the total jobs created equal 1,717; and the total earnings are $69.8 million. By comparison, for example, in 2009 the total earnings were $40.6 million.
Also, in terms of return on investment, the numbers are strong. Annual funding from local and county government partners topped $1.8 million in 2011 for the nine existing facilities—with an estimated annual ROI of $9.1 million in the form of property, school and sales taxes from client and graduate companies.
This spring, a 10th incubator site opened, in Apopka.
“The explosive growth of UCF’s Business Incubation Program in just two years has been matched by an equally impressive impact on our regional economy,” says Randy Berridge, president of the Florida High Tech Corridor Council, an economic development initiative of UCF along with the University of South Florida and the University of Florida. “This study reveals the true power of incubation using UCF’s proven formula for success.”
Concludes O'Neal: “We look forward to helping more companies become successful.”
MegaWatt Ventures is an annual clean energy business plan competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy in conjunction with Florida’s universities. The 2012 finale is set for Sept. 20-21 in Orlando.
Last year, St. Petersburg-based Mud Power won the competition by developing a system for long-term renewable power that will allow extended deployments of underwater instrumentation. The microbial fuel cell technology reduces ship costs from repeated deployments and allows enhanced monitoring of the world’s water bodies. Also, a finalist—Mesdi Systems Inc., founded by UCF engineering students—won a $100,000 prize from the U.S. Department of Energy. The company developed a business plan for a start-up that promotes renewable and green energy solutions.
This year, as part of the finale, MegaWatt Ventures is partnering with FL-CAN and the I2 Capital Acceleration Program for the "Cleantech to Spacetech" Showcase.
The competition centers on encouraging the commercialization of innovative energy-related technologies. Students, entrepreneurs and faculty are invited to participate. By entering the competition, they gain access to an array of entrepreneurial resources and educational programs, such as being surrounded by experienced business mentors, investors, technical experts and energy-industry veterans.
Competing teams must include at least one Florida-based engineering student and can be formed at the beginning of the competition. Teams can also be existing Florida-based small technology businesses that generated less than $1 million in revenues in 2011; and they employ Florida-based engineering students in key development positions for the duration of the competition. Technologies or research from any U.S.-based university or national lab can be incorporated into the proposed product concepts. In future years, the competition will expand to include teams from throughout the southeastern United States.
More information: www.megawattventures.com
Did You Know?
GrowFL will live to see another day. Established in 2009, when the Florida Legislature agreed to Gov. Charlie Crist’s request to fund a pilot program that would be based at UCF and run by the Florida Economic Gardening Institute. Last year, Gov. Rick Scott used his line-item veto on GrowFL’s $2 million appropriation, leaving the program in doubt. Recently, though, new funding arrived—good news for second-stage companies. Since 2009, GrowFL has provided its free services to 388 companies statewide. Companies must meet some eligibility requirements, including being second-stage companies with a viable product or service but no more than 100 employees. Revenue must come from both local and non-local sources. Economic gardening is a philosophy that embraces strategies to grow existing businesses in a community, region or state. More information: growfl.com