Community members of Tallahassee and Florida State University celebrated the groundbreaking opening of a new high-tech business incubator on Tuesday.
They touted North Florida Innovation Labs as a community-wide partnership that will house startups and growing technology companies that need specialized lab space to continue their work and grow their business.
“North Florida Innovation Labs will provide facilities and resources for a diverse group of high-tech entrepreneurs to bring their research and innovation to market and create their own success stories,” said Bill Lickson, director of the incubator.
The groundbreaking celebration included Leon County R&D Authority Chairman Kevin Graham, FSU President Richard McCullough, Florida A&M University Vice President for Advancement Shawnta Friday-Stroud, Tallahassee Community College Vice President for Workforce Innovation Kimberly Moore, Tallahassee-Leon County Office of Economic Vitality Director Cristina Paredes, Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey and Leon County Commissioner Kristin Dozier.
The 40,000-square-foot building will have 31 labs and 20 offices, as well as coworking spaces, meeting rooms and a machine shop to create product prototypes. The labs and their programs are expected to support up to 100 technology companies and ultimately create more than 600 full-time jobs in Tallahassee and across the region.
The facility will be located in the Innovation Park corridor, which is already home to several high-tech labs and companies, as well as the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering and the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory.
McCullough, himself the founder of two companies, called the new facility a “huge opportunity” for the community and for entrepreneurs seeking space and support to grow their businesses.
“We are very, very proud of Florida State University for being a part of this project, and my personal goal is to foster an entrepreneurial spirit in Tallahassee that will emanate from the university — and I want that with all of you do as partners,” McCullough told the crowd that gathered for the groundbreaking work. “We all agree that this is the right thing to do for this region. And I can tell you it’s possible.”
Providing space for start-ups will help both FSU and FAMU develop technologies that can be brought to market.
McCullough’s vision for the university’s research enterprise involves a major investment in fostering a culture in which both new businesses and incumbents leverage the university’s arsenal of patents, develop new technologies and bring products to market.
The university already has an impressive research portfolio and connections to private industry, but developing NFIL is a critical tool in helping the university strengthen start-up companies.
The nearly $25 million facility is funded by a partnership of local entities, including FSU. The university provided a $2.6 million gift and a $3 million loan to support construction of the facility. The partnership was also able to secure a $12.6 million federal grant from the US Economic Development Administration.