Scientists, industry leaders, and the general public gathered on May 17 at Progress Corporate Park in Alachua for the 8th annual Celebration of Biotechnology.
The event is held to draw attention to young biotechnology companies located in North Central Florida. Attendees arrive from across the state to facilitate the growth of these companies and the industry through networking, partnerships, and investments.
“It is the second biggest biotech event in the state every year next to BioFlorida’s annual convention,” said Patti Breedlove, Associate Director of the University of Florida (UF) Sid Martin Biotech Incubator. “It’s a way for us to honor all the growth and get excited about everything going on.”
This year’s event had over 400 attendees and 70 vendors. Lunch was provided via several food merchants, and a bus tour allowed riders some time to relax while being shown the Corporate Park.
Sponsors also set up a “Gallery of Biotech” to feature some of the area’s most successful biotech companies, including Axogen, Pasteuria Bioscience, and RTI Biologics. Many, including RTI Biologics, are spin-off companies from the Sid Martin Biotech Incubator.
“Most people don’t realize that there are more research dollars at UF annually than at all other Florida universities combined,” said Breedlove. “80 percent of the employees at the Progress Park work for a UF-sponsored company.”
The past several years have seen so much growth that on May 24, the Alachua County Board of Commissioners declared the month of May as “Innovation Month” for the county.
“This has been a great year for our program. Axogen just announced a merger with a Texas-based company, and Pasteuria signed an option to be purchased by Syngenta,” said Breedlove. “The economy may be challenged, but we are grateful that our companies are finding funding.”
Predicting an even larger celebration next year, Breedlove hopes to shift the event’s time to later in the day. She also hopes to add a dinner reception to be held after the main festivities.