Tech Transfer eNews Blog

U of Florida launches fund to support faculty-led start-ups


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: October 16th, 2019

The University of Florida (UF) has launched a venture fund to support start-ups based on university innovations.

UF will provide $1 million a year to the fund, which could mean $200,000 to $500,000 for 2 to 5 start-ups per fiscal year. The fund is intended to replace the Institute for the Commercialization of Florida Technology fund, which until 2017 bridged early funding gaps for Florida university start-ups by matching investments up to $300,000.

“With the Institute for the Commercialization of Florida Technology shifting focus, neither the state [nor] the university had a seed-stage investment vehicle,” says Jim O’Connell, assistant vice president for commercialization at UF and director of tech licensing at UF Innovate. “We felt the need to fill some of that gap, and this $1 million fund should do just that.”

UF will act as a “following investor,” meaning it will base a decision to fund a start-up on another investor’s due diligence work and commitment to make a significant investment in the company.

“Being a co-investor positions UF as a peer with the investors, which means much greater visibility into the investment process, greater visibility into the other investor’s views on the true long-term prospects for that start-up,” says Randy Scott, partner with HealthQuest Capital, which invests in healthcare start-ups.

David Norton, vice president of research at UF, says the new fund will provide benefits beyond venture capital. “We believe it will highlight the work our faculty do, indicate UF has skin in the game, and attract other, larger investors,” says Norton. “If we prove that this model is successful, other universities in the state could use the same model.”

Source: UF Innovate

Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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