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EDC Needs Applicants for Entrepreneurial Excellence Program

By Gina Jordan

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wfsu/local-wfsu-935610.mp3

Tallahassee, FL – A new program launched by the Economic Development Council of Tallahassee/Leon County is seeking applications from would-be entrepreneurs. Gina Jordan sat down with the director, who hopes to turn bright ideas into businesses that produce jobs.

Larry Lynch works at FSU's Office of Research. He goes around campus looking for scientists who have ideas that could become commercial products. Take the cancer drug, Taxol, for example.

"A lot of the buildings we see out here were all built with money that FSU made from royalties on Taxol. It was the number one and still is the number one breast cancer drug in the world. It wasn't invented at Florida State, but they learned how to synthesize it here at Florida State. We made hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue from that."

Lynch works on finding the next big thing, which made him a logical choice to lead the EDC's Entrepreneurial Excellence Program. A $450,000 grant from the U-S Small Business Administration will provide three years of funding to help turn concepts into realities.

"It doesn't just happen by itself. You have to worry about how do you start a company, how do you finance that company, how do you do marketing for that new product?"

The course will be modeled after a successful program at the University of Central Florida, which hosts about three classes a year. Lynch plans to use mentors from the area's universities and the private sector to work one on one with recruits.

"At the end of the class, they actually start building their business plan and start understanding what it is that they need to do next to try and increase the odds of them succeeding. And they find out -- how much money do I need to capitalize this business or this idea, do I protect it with a patent or a copyright?"

Participants in the program will also be exposed to incubators, facilities that enable entrepreneurs or startup companies to divide the cost and the space needed to conduct their business.

"So what you might have is twenty or thirty small companies, individuals usually, sharing this space. And they might have either a cubicle or a very small office in this facility, but have access in sharing the conference room, sharing access to the internet, sharing access to printers and copiers like that."

The course will be tuition based. The amount hasn't been determined, but Lynch says it will be a nominal fee.

"The reason we do that: if you pay something for it, it has value to you; and we want these folks to understand this is something very valuable. We want them to take it very seriously."

Their primary goal is to help build new companies around the magnet and materials sciences, where FSU is very strong, but Lynch says a wide variety of ideas will be included. He hopes to hold the first class around March.

"When you have a down economic cycle like we have right now, everybody is kind of looking to move forward and to have a great idea for a new company or a new product. Now is a great time to do it, and how do we help them be successful; how do we help them maximize their chances of a success; that's kind of what we are all about."

For more information about the Entrepreneurial Excellence Program, contact Director Larry Lynch at (850) 570-0560 or click here.