Moving from an economy that relies heavily on tourism to one that has a large stake in biotech is a big leap. And it calls for a long-term, well developed strategy. That’s what Governor Jeb Bush was after back in 2003. He began by using federal stimulus dollars as bait, luring the Scripps Research Institute to Florida. He next urged the state legislature in 2006 to create an Innovation Investment Fund to attract world-class research and development. His efforts worked, eventually allowing state universities and their research partners to leverage public and private dollars to commercialization of emerging technologies.
All of this success has translated into financial gains for cities across the state, and Gainesville is one city that has seen its biotech economy grow by leaps and bounds.
“Greater Gainesville has evolved into a region fueled by research, business and a smart, young and creative workforce that both thrives on, and is a catalyst for innovation,” said Susan Davenport, CEO of Gainesville Chamber of Commerce.
Amend Surgical, Inc. (Amend), a medical device company focused on enhancing the regenerative capacity of bone replacement products, signed an exclusive agreement with The University of Florida Research Foundation (UFRF) to license patents for the development of Biomimetic Bone, a novel artificial bone substitute.
UF researchers have developed a process for mineralizing collagen substrates using a polymer-induced, liquid-precursor process, which generates an artificial bone substitute that closely mimics the composition and structure of natural bone. This revolutionary process will allow Amend to fabricate a highly mineralized, load-bearing, bioresorbable, collagen hydroxyapatite composite that will serve as a pioneering technology in the area of artificial bone.
Marine Lance Cpl. Jeffrey Cole was shot twice in the arm during a 2010 firefight in Marjah, Afghanistan, after his patrol came under fire from enemy insurgents. Despite being injured, Cole continued to hold back the enemy by returning fire as five wounded squad mates were moved to safety. Eight days later, he was one of the first patients in the world to receive one of the longest available nerve grafts — 70 millimeters, or nearly 3 inches, grown from cadaver tissue — to repair his arm.
The Avance graft, made by UF startup Axogen, used in Cole’s arm acted as a conduit for the injured nerve, repairing the severed nerves and eventually becoming a part of the patient’s own tissue. Aside from some loss of dexterity strength, Cole now has full use and feeling in his arm.
UF startup SharpSpring, Inc., a global provider of cloud-based marketing technologies that help marketers drive more leads, convert leads to sales and optimize their spend, announced the launch of its integration with Enthusem by Prospect Smarter, Inc., an offline-to-online marketing tool that automates direct mail, personalized at scale.
The new integration allows customers to leverage information SharpSpring captures about prospects — such as site visits, emails opened, or lead score — to dynamically deliver hyper-personalized mailers from Enthusem. The printed mailer could then incorporate personalized elements such as the contact’s own social media images or company branding.
UF startup Optym announced its collaboration with Greyhound Lines to develop DriverMAX, an algorithm-based system for driver route planning. Driver route planning at Greyhound is currently done manually by planners with decades of experience. DriverMAX will encapsulate this human experience and insight into a software solution that will generate the routes of more than 1,000 drivers within an hour. This software is expected to generate higher wages for each driver, improve their quality of life, and at the same time reduce the total cost of operations for Greyhound.
Optym’s proposed software solution will create millions of options of driver assignments, evaluate those options with respect to multiple objectives, and recommend the best option. Optym expects to reduce the driving related costs by several million dollars per year, all the while meeting drivers’ lifestyle preferences and improving the quality of their lives.
UF startup Banyan Biomarkers, Inc., a pioneer in developing biomarkers for traumatic brain injury (TBI), announced that Herb Boyer, PhD, co-founder of Genentech, will serve on the Banyan Biomarkers’ Board of Directors. Dr. Boyer co-founded Genentech in 1976 and served as a director of the company until its 2008 acquisition by Roche. Dr. Boyer also served on the board of Allergan for 19 years.
The company also announced that Frédéric Sweeney, PhD, will be joining the Banyan Biomarkers’ Board of Directors. Dr. Sweeney currently serves as Vice President, Business Development & Strategic Alliances at bioMérieux S.A., has held senior executive positions at T2 Biosystems, Inc., Tornado Spectral Systems Inc. and started his career as part for Canada’s largest life science venture capital and private equity firm.
Shutterstock, Inc., a provider of imagery and music, and UF startup SharpSpring, a global provider of cloud-based marketing technologies, have partnered together to allow SharpSpring customers access Shutterstock’s full collection of more than 125 million high-quality images directly within its marketing automation platform.
The integration further facilitates the creation of impactful, image-rich marketing emails, landing pages, and blog posts to improve engagement and drive sales.
“We’ve always known that there is a direct relationship between the use of imagery and increased levels of engagement in marketing materials,” said Janet Giesen, Shutterstock’s VP of Business Development. “Our partnership with SharpSpring makes it easier for marketing professionals to access our vast collection of over 125 million images, helping them leverage the power of imagery to increase engagement with their marketing materials.”
Chris Raanes, CEO of UF startup ViewRay, discusses next-generation MRI technology and its role in oncology in this TV interview. The company’s MRIdian Linac, the world’s first commercially available MRI-guided Linac system, can image and treat cancer patients simultaneously. It just earned FDA clearance.
UF startup Exactech Inc., a Gainesville-based developer and producer of bone and joint restoration products and biologic solutions for extremities, knee and hip, announced that revenue for 2016 increased 7 percent to $257.6 million from the year before.
Domestic revenue increased 5 percent to $176.8 million and international revenue increased 10 percent to $80.8 million in 2016, according to the company.