by Ed Duggan --

Jacksonville Business Journal, April 8, 2009 - A pilot program to match up entrepreneurs with new research from universities is gaining traction.

The program, run by the nonprofit Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research, is designed to fast-track business development and job-creation plans to turn university discoveries into viable companies and jobs.

The Boca Raton-based institute has signed four cooperation agreements with state universities, according to Executive Director Gary Keller.

“It sets up a formal infrastructure to confidentially and more effectively commercialize the universities’ technology discoveries,” he said.

A result of 2007 legislation, the statewide program now includes the University of Florida, University of Central Florida, Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University and Florida Atlantic University.

The institute matches Florida’s publicly funded research institutions with seasoned entrepreneurs and investors seeking their next opportunity to create spinoffs centered on technology developed at the state institutions.

Entrepreneurs and the universities hammer out their own deals after the institute brings them together.

But, the process doesn’t end there. The institute also assists the new companies in raising money, attracting talent and finding offices. At this point, it doesn’t charge for its services or take a piece of the action, although that may change over time.

Keller is heading to the Washington, D.C., area to seek federal grant money for the institute, then to Tallahassee to tap what state trickle-down funds may be available from the stimulus bill.

“There is a terrific need and opportunity in what we are doing – and I’m looking forward to dealing with all the participants,” he said.