By PL Jeter
Central Florida's Medical City is taking another bold step in technological development with the Lake Nona Life Sciences Incubator coming online in early spring. A partnership consisting of the University of Central Florida, Florida Hospital, the Tavistock Group, the City of Orlando, the state of Florida and the Florida High Tech corridor has brought the first life sciences incubator in Central Florida to fruition in the GuideWell Innovation Center.
The 10,000 sq. ft. facility, operated by the UCF Business Incubation Program, is equipped with 7 high-demand wet lab spaces, robust infrastructure, unparalleled business support and state-of-the-art shared equipment, all available to the region's most promising life science and biotech startups.
The incubator will be a hub of entrepreneurial activity, from university spin-outs commercializing UCF technologies to local startups filling critical needs in the local healthcare community. The incubator will create an environment of innovation, collaboration and comprehensive support programs for promising life sciences and biotech startups in Central Florida.
Other amenities include private offices, conference rooms and a large fully equipped communal laboratory with shared research instrumentation and autoclave facilities.
UCF Business Incubation Program
The UCF Business Incubation Program is an economic development partnership designed to help create & sustain jobs in the community and spur economic growth throughout the region. This goal is accomplished by helping new and struggling early-stage businesses grow to the point where they need to hire employees in order to continue operating and growing. Since 1999, the program has assisted more than 350 early-stage companies, who've sustained nearly 3,700 jobs throughout Central Florida. These companies have also had a total impact on regional economic output (GDP) in the amount of $2.48 billion.
Access to additional specialized equipment and expertise is available through the UCF core facilities on a fee for use basis.
Through the incubator network, university relationships and community partnerships, the UCF Life Sciences incubator will connect tenants with all the resources needed to innovate and flourish.
Facility features include:
Suite of support services including grant development, equipment training, business coaching and mentorship,
Biosafety Level II facility,
Secure entry to facility, private labs and offices,
Mail & package reception,
Lake Nona 'Medical City' business address,
Backup power for critical equipment,
Fee-based access to UCF core facilities
Orlando Medical News asked Dr. Tom O'Neal, Associate Vice President of Research & Commercialization at the University of Central Florida for more information on the development and operation of the incubator.
OMN: What's the genesis of the idea for the incubator?
O'Neal: Wet-lab space is in high demand, but until now, budding life science and biotech startups had few options for access to state-of-the-art equipment and business support in one place. The 10,000-square-foot UCF Life Sciences Incubator is the first of its kind in Central Florida, and helps to fill that need.
OMN: Is this the same project that was envisioned nearly 10 years ago? What brought it together now?
O'Neal: The idea for a life sciences incubator in Central Florida has been discussed for several years. A combination of available funding, a location in the heart of Lake Nona's Medical City, and increased demand for a fully equipped wet-lab facility made this the perfect time and place to open the UCF Life Sciences Incubator.
OMN: What will be the cost to tenants for the use of the facility?
O'Neal: Companies can expect flexible lease terms and varying cost options depending on the space and services needed in this turnkey incubator. Move-in ready, fully equipped office and lab space is $35 per square foot and $47 per square foot, respectively, and grants access to collaboration space, shared equipment and support services.
OMN: Will there be a component of the research facilities at UCF to assist the companies that use the incubator? If so, how will that work?
O'Neal: Yes, incubator clients have access to a suite of support services, plus additional specialized equipment and expertise from UCF core facilities ranging from imaging to advanced microfabrication.
OMN: How will the incubator benefit the UCF/Florida Hospital partnership and the Central Florida area?
O'Neal: Central Florida's growing life sciences community is increasingly in need of a turnkey life sciences incubator as more biotech and life sciences companies emerge and flourish. There isn't a better location for it than Lake Nona Medical City, at the heart of promising life sciences research and innovation. UCF believes in the power of partnerships and this exemplifies how they make things possible that would just not happen without them. The incubator has many partners that will benefit from the Life Sciences Incubator. We appreciate that Florida Hospital assisted in getting grant dollars directed to the project from the state and city of Orlando and believe that is just the beginning.
OMN: Are there plans to expand the facility in the future?
O'Neal: We are excited to be opening the doors soon to help fill a need for wet-lab space in the area. There are no current plans for expanding the space at this time but hopefully that will change in the future.
OMN: What does this program mean for life sciences development in Central Florida?
O'Neal: We're looking forward to contributing to the exciting work in Lake Nona by helping our clients fill critical needs in life sciences, health care, biotechnology and more. I often hear 'no one has access to turnkey space,' so the UCF Life Sciences Incubator is a game-changer. We need a robust set of tools and infrastructure to build a thriving life sciences industry sector and believe this is a critical addition to this industry sector.
Individual Lab Resources
The incubator will provide each lab with the essentials for life science product development. Each lab is plug and play, so tenants can quickly set up and begin operations
Baker SterilGARD Class II Bio Safety Cabinet
Baker Chemgard Fume Hood and Acid Storage Cabinet
Flammable Storage Cabinet
Backup Generator Power for Critical Equipment
Incubator Shared Equipment Resources
The incubator will allow tenants to focus on research and building the latest innovations, instead of fretting over expensive purchases or jumping through hoops for access to equipment. The shared lab workroom is fully outfitted with the best in life sciences instrumentation.
Thermo Fisher Scientific NanoDrop 8000 Spectrophotometer UV/VIS
Fisher Scientific Accuspin 8C Benchtop Centrifuge
Thermo Scientific Sorvall MTX Ultra Centrifuge
Thermo Fisher Scientific Forma Steri Cult 3310 CO2 Air Jacketed Incubator
Thermo Fisher Scientific Forma Environmental Chamber (Incubator)
Shel Labs SSI10 Large Capacity Shaking Incubator
Thermo Fisher Thermolyne Furnace
Thermo Fisher Orion Star A111 pH Meter
Labconco FlaskScrubber Glassware Washer
Primus PSS500 Steam Sterilizer
Mettler-Toledo Analytical Balance
Fisher Scientific Isotemp Dual Chamber Water Bath
Branson Ultrasonic Bath
Vacuubrand ME 1C Oil-less Vacuum Pumps
Thermo Revco Lab Refrigerator
Thermo Fisher TSX -20oC Freezer
Thermo Fisher Scientific Revco UxF -86oC Ultralow Freezer
Follett Nugget Icemaker
Thermo Scientific Barnstead Pacific TII 40 RO/DI water purification