Leon County’s three higher education institutions are looking for ways to turn their research into dollars. The schools say research, and commercialization efforts are a way to bring more jobs to the area.
Not all research becomes a patent. And not all patents can be commercialized. But for those that do get sold, the rewards can be big. And Larry Lynch, Director of the Tallahassee Economic Development Council’s Entrepreneurship program, says it all starts with an idea that may need a little help. For example, the hurricane mapping service H-Wind Scientific, whose founder started at DOMI Station, a business incubator.
“He spent about 18 months at DOMI, it took four to five programmers to define this software, and last month they announced that HWinds was acquired by an international company doing protection and insurance out of London," said Lynch. He’s going to continue to have that company in Tallahassee, they’re going to expand—and he didn’t have that company 18 months ago.”
At DOMI Station inventors and entrepreneurs can find ways to market their ideas and products. It’s also supported by the local higher education institutions. All three schools are heavily invested in bringing research from the classroom to the boardroom and ultimately—the marketplace. At TCC's Wakulla Environmental Institute, that work is focused on protecting the Apalachicola Bay and more specifically, is oyster industry, which is on the verge of collapse. To do that, TCC’s Kim Moore says the school has turned to oyster farming:
“I call it an entrepreneurial initiative, but these individuals are working and doing something they love with the environment while at the same time growing this new opportunity that the community had never seen before," she said.
And at Florida A&M University, agriculture remains big. Outside of Leon County, agriculture is a major industry. And FAMU is well-known for its work in the area and Vice President of Research Tim Moore says the universities have a new project in the work: mapping corn.
“They’ve decided they’re going to do a genomics program, and its a brilliant program because it taps into resources and expertise on both sides of the equation. So the government gets a win-win and we in Tallahassee get a win and the economy and the world get a win if we can come up with innovative products that can improve crop durability under high-heat, and high-stress situations."
FSU’s Vice President of Research Gary Ostrander says there’s more of that coming.
“I’m going to predict that in the next ten years you’re going to hear a lot more about partnering and products coming out between our college of medicine and your college of pharmacy. There are already collaborations happening in drug delivery and new drug platforms. And as we have been interviewing faculty we're hiring on the FSU side, they’re interested in what’s happening at FAMU side and they’re already thinking about research they want to do and how do you translate that into a drug that goes to market.”
On December first that research and more will be on display during the first, jointly-held Discovery on Parade Event featuring FAMU, FSU and TCC.