ALACHUA – Companies associated with the Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator in the City of Alachua have had an impact of $753 million on Alachua County from 2004 through 2010, according to a study released last week. In terms of employment, the incubator is being credited with 1,467 direct and indirect jobs in Alachua County according to a report prepared by economic development consultant Rhonda Phillips.
David L. Day, director of the Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator and UF’s Office of Technology Licensing, said, “The Sid Martin Biotech Incubator opened 16 years ago this month and it’s exciting to see it mature with an annual local economic impact of more than $100 million.”
Patti Breedlove, associate director for the Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator, said the study was commissioned last year and sought to determine the scale and depth of the incubator’s impact.
“The program has matured, and I thought it was about time we did this type of a study since we had not done so before,” she said.
The $753 million figure is the result of total output, which includes value added to the local economy, labor income and all output factors. Those numbers, the report concludes, represent the total economic impact of the incubator companies’ economic activities.
Breedlove said the study was compiled after surveying some 17 companies that were part of the incubator during the seven-year slice of time. The survey data was augmented with additional information supplied by her office.
Noting that the impact numbers were conservative, Breedlove explained that the analysis excluded companies that relocated outside of Alachua County during the study period. It also omitted certain funding for companies with additional locations outside of Alachua County. According to the report, only employment, investments and revenues directly attributable to the companies’ Alachua County operations were counted.
The study did not consider the impact of numerous other bioscience companies located in Progress Corporate Park.
“Bioscience companies are the most complex of all startups,” Breedlove said. “They require many years and millions of dollars to grow to maturity.”
The expertise, laboratory space and equipment needed by bioscience companies make them different than software and other small startups, she added.
The bioscience industry is made up mostly of small bioscience companies developing their first products, and they are heavily reliant on investor capital, grants, contracts and partnerships with larger biotech or pharmaceutical companies, Breedlove pointed out.
She suggested having many small bioscience companies stabilizes the local economy, saying, “While there may be some moving away or closing, there are others being formed and it really makes this a boutique community.”
Although the small companies tend to have fewer employees, Breedlove touts that those jobs come with high salaries and that the industry is clean, netting a positive impact on the community.
The Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator in Alachua is home to one of the most experienced and fully equipped bioscience incubation programs in the United States, Breedlove claims. That’s due in large part to the business development support services and assistance with access to seed stage venture capital, combined with specialized infrastructure including wet labs, greenhouses, fermentation facilities, and common use scientific equipment.
The incubator graduates just over one company per year. It is currently incubating six companies and only has space available for one more company.
Evaluated annually, companies are held accountable for making progress with their product and approved to stay in the program one year at a time.
“We’ve never turned away a promising company we’ve wanted to have in our space,” she said.
“The good news continues into 2011,” the associate director added. “So far this year, AxoGen Inc. has signed a merger agreement that will make it a public company. Pasteuria Bioscience has signed a partnership with Syngenta, the largest agri-business in the world, to commercialize its products. And our graduate EraGen BioSciences, which is now in Wisconsin, was acquired for $34 million. It’s been an unprecedented year for us.”Add a comment