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New report says USF’s Innovation Enterprise contributes hundreds of millions to the local and state economy

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The University of South Florida’s “Innovation Enterprise” contributes close to $395 million to the Tampa Bay area economy, according to a new report issued on Wednesday.

The report by the Coral Gables based Washington Economics Group (WEG), is the first in-depth study on the specific impact and return on investment for the university’s innovation efforts. It shows that approximately 1,550 people are directly employed in the USF Innovation Enterprise. The report says another 1,467 related jobs are sustained among partner organizations and businesses that provide goods and services to USF innovation operations. In all, the report says that those efforts results in $149 million in household income.

The report then says that that economic impact of the USF Innovation Enterprise, “however, ripples across the state of Florida, where it grows to $400 million annually.”

The Innovation Enterprise comprises three groups:

The USF Research Park, which provides an important, centrally located, community environment for companies and organizations interested in partnering with USF.

The Tampa Bay Technology Incubator (TBTI), which supports both university spinout companies, student-founded startups and new community companies through their early stage of commercialization utilizing state-of-the-art facilities, scientific equipment and programming. TBTI is currently home to more than 60 resident and affiliate companies, with 58 percent of these companies directly emerging from the TTO as spinout companies.

The Technology Transfer Office (TTO), which facilitates the commercialization of intellectual property, including patents and copyrights, directly stemming from USF System research.

Some 80 percent of the jobs created by USF innovation statewide are in the Knowledge-Based Services Sector. Major industries under this category are: Life Sciences, IT, Finance Services, Professional and Administrative Services. Knowledge-Based Services also have a significant spillover effect on tourism, services, real estate, transportation and other key sectors in Florida’s economy, the report noted.

Among the companies that have “spunout of USF Research,” include Imogene, which makes bacterial infections transparent. KeriCure Inc., a medical device company focused on topical products for wound care and Trash 2 Cash, which takes landfill gas and makes liquid fuel.

“The USF System is one of Florida’s leading innovation and entrepreneurial centers and this report underscores the important return on investment university innovation provides for the people of the Tampa Bay Region and Florida,” said USF System President Judy Genshaft. “Graduating talented students ready to be competitive in a global marketplace is only half the equation when it comes to advancing our economy.  We are strategically investing in our high-tech, knowledge economy sectors to create the jobs of the future and retain that talent for the benefit of all Floridians.”

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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