In Praise of the Research Park

I’m a big fan of the Research Park at FAU and its CEO Andrew Duffell.

The park has become a major economic engine for Palm Beach County and beyond serving as warm and inviting place for talented entrepreneurs and researchers to build and scale their companies.

That’s important, because “economic gardening”–growing your own so to speak is smart policy.

As far as I’m concerned, Northern Virginia can have Amazon and its H2 Headquarters (and that’s where it’s going folks), I’d rather save incentive money and grow our own company’s right here at home. The Research Park is a good example of how that can work.

The Park’s impact has been profound– if somewhat unsung– in a region where it is hard to gain appreciation.

The 2017 numbers—which never tell the whole story—are nonetheless impressive. Consider:

  1. $387 million of investment capital raised
  2. $535.65 million in economic impact
  3. $67 million in annual payroll
  4. 3,088 total jobs sustained, that’s direct and indirect employment with another 250 jobs plus planned.
  5. 33 companies housed.
  6. 16 new patents in 2017.

On October 3, the FAU Research Park will host its annual awards banquet at The Addison in Boca.

It’s the fourth annual awards ceremony and it’s really a terrific idea to celebrate the success of the park and shine a spotlight on some of the standout players making it happen.

This is the power of having a university and a research park in our community. And the best is yet to come because I believe in the leadership of the park and their track record of results.

“The recipients of this year’s Research Park at FAU awards are all hugely impactful to the mission of the Research Park – to foster R&D at FAU and foster economic development in our region,” said Mr. Duffell, president and chief executive officer of the Research Park at FAU. “We are grateful to each for their unique contributions and hope that they inspire our stakeholders.”

The Research Park awards recognize distinguished contributions to the Research Park’s mission to create and sustain the ideal environment for innovation and invention, maximizing the academic and entrepreneurial talent and regional resources in South Florida to accelerate economic development and prosperity.

The award recipients for 2018 are:

Distinguished Researcher: Gregg Fields, Ph.D. is a professor, chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and director of the Center for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. Fields applies chemistry in novel ways to answer important biological questions, many of which assist in the diagnosis and treatment of major diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, arthritis and cancer. He is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is a renowned researcher who holds six U.S. patents and has one application being reviewed. The technology developed by Fields has resulted in three commercial products, currently sold by five different companies. He has authored or coauthored more than 260 scientific publications and has presented more than 190 invited lectures.

 

Distinguished Entrepreneur: Daniel Cane is the chief executive officer and co-founder of South Florida-based Modernizing Medicine, Inc., a healthcare IT company that is revolutionizing the way in which healthcare information is created, consumed and utilized to increase practice efficiency and improve patient outcomes. Joining the Research Park in 2012, Modernizing Medicine has grown to more than 650 employees and has raised more than $332 million in total investment. In 2016, the South Florida Business Journal named Cane as a “South Florida Ultimate CEO.” In 2015, he was named “EY Entrepreneur of the Year®.” Cane earned the Excalibur Award for Palm Beach Small Business Leader of the Year for 2013. Additionally, he also was named “Palm Beach County Ultimate CEO” by the South Florida Business Journal and “CEO of the Year” by CEO World. Recently, he and his wife, Debra, donated $1 million to FAU’s A.D. Henderson University School for STEM education initiatives.

Mr. Cane is a local product hailing from Lake Worth. What makes Dan extra special is that despite the rigors of running a hyper growth company, he has taken the time to be visible and accessible to local entrepreneurs and organizations. It makes a difference, because Mr. Cane serves as an inspiration and a role model for those aspiring to make a dent in business.

 

Distinguished Leader: Steven L. Abrams has been a member of the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners since 2009, winning re-election twice. Abrams has a lengthy record of public service. He is the former mayor of Boca Raton, elected in 2001 and re-elected in 2003 without opposition. In the 2005 election for mayor, Abrams received the most votes in city history and was later named mayor emeritus when he stepped down in 2008 due to term limits. Abrams’ work in regional transportation has been instrumental in the success of the Research Park at FAU’s access to Tri-Rail and the new I-95 interchange at Spanish River Boulevard, making the Research Park at FAU the only research park to have a direct on-ramp to an interstate.

Mayor Steven has been a terrific friend over the years and has served with distinction wherever he has landed. Many years ago, we went after Scripps together leading our cities joint efforts to bring the institute to Boca. While we fell one vote short, Steven showed his mettle and his commitment to economic development. He’s a very worthy recipient.

 

Distinguished Organization: Small Business Development Center at FAU delivered substantial consulting and training services in 2016 that resulted in a significant return on investment, including delivering more than 13,000 hours of consulting to 1,360 entrepreneurs at no cost. The SBDC’s services resulted in the creation and retention of almost 6,000 jobs in our region, and generated almost $700 million in sales. The SBDC’s role in Florida’s economic development by assisting entrepreneurs in every stage of the business life cycle is invaluable and an important complement to the greater FAU community.

To purchase tickets to attend the event visit www.research-park.org.

 

 

 

 

 

Things that Work Edition

It’s time for some positivity.
Social media and conventional media are full of bad news these days.
It’s time to take a look at what’s working.
Fortunately, this is by no means a complete list. And please send me some suggestions for future posts, we’d love to spotlight the good in our community.

Delray Beach Initiative –think of this group of committed citizens as a SWAT team for good. Essentially they go where they are needed helping local schools and non profits by raising funds and awareness. Over the weekend, they hosted “Delray’s Got Talent” at the Elks Club which in addition to being a lot of fun raised funds for the Miracle League, a non-profit that works too. To get involved or learn more visit http://delraybeachinitiative.com/

The Delray Beach Historical Society–under the leadership of Winnie Edwards, the Historical Society has new energy and life with lots of activities, exhibits and projects. They have a robust social media presence and have activated their home at the historic Cason Cottage. I like how the Historical Society is conducting interviews with residents who have insights into local history. I’ve longed felt we have neglected to capture the stories of our pioneers and key contributors so future generations may learn about their hometown. To learn more and get involved visit http://www.delraybeachhistory.org/

Boca Economic Development–Jessica Del Vecchio is a force of nature promoting job growth and corporate achievement in Boca Raton. Is there are a lot to talk about? Oh yes. But there’s also a whole lot to admire about how the City of Boca is messaging its successes. The Economic Development office fosters pride by spotlighting the contributions and achievements of local companies and touting the city as a great place to invest and run a business. Here’s a link to the office https://www.myboca.us/470/Economic-Development  

FAU Research Park–Park leader Andrew Duffel is an economic development rock star who was recently recognized for his stellar work. The Park has become a job engine for the region and the home of a lot of innovation. Bravo! The Research Park’s website is a cornucopia of great information that will get you informed and excited about the future of tech innovation in our backyard.

https://www.research-park.org/

The Arts Garage–since taking the helm, Marjorie Waldo has steadied the ship, engaged the community and continued the great programming. Yes! If you haven’t been to the Arts Garage, make sure to catch a show, you won’t regret it. The venue is intimate and easily accessible.  There’s a lot of ways to get involved visit http://artsgarage.org/ to learn how.

Old School Square–President Rob Steele and Board Chair Bill Branning have gotten the tour of political dysfunction in Delray but through it all have managed to stay positive and focused on the big picture which is and has always been serving as a cultural catalyst and community gathering spot. Rob’s ability to reach out to key community partners is refreshing. Bill’s strength as a leader is inspiring. http://oldschoolsquare.org/

Anthony’s Cold Fire Pizza–you can always count on Pedro Andrade, Anthony’s manager in Delray to step up to help the community. Aside from serving amazing wings and ridiculously good pizza, Anthony’s is a great corporate citizen.
There’s more. A whole lot more.
So much to be thankful for in your Delray Boca.

Order Those Shades Because the Future is Bright

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Just when you are ready to write off the future—the universe provides you inspiration.

I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to have a visceral reaction to the 2016 election. By visceral, I mean nausea. It’s triggered by TV ads, debates and cable “news”—so am I doing my best to avoid all three and commercial radio too.

Thank goodness for books (I’m reading the superb Bruce Springsteen autobiography “Born to Run”), magazines (a steady dose ranging from Sports Illustrated and Inc., to Fast Company and Entrepreneur) and SiriusXM Radio (E Street Radio, Tom Petty’s Buried Treasures and the 70s on 7).

With a little mercy, I will make it through Nov. 8.

But occasionally reality slips through my carefully constructed cocoon and I will accidentally see CNN or another Randy Perkins/Brian Mast ad. So I was grateful when I read Time magazine’s “Millennials” issue and Fortune magazine’s list of 40 under 40 standouts last week.

There is hope, my friends. There are good people out there working on big challenges and getting results.

Time’s list had an international flavor with social entrepreneurs in Rwanda, jazz musicians from Indonesia and a visionary architect from Finland.

It is well worth the read to see what’s coming down the pike.

Fortune’s list was decidedly more business oriented but no less exciting. There are incredible minds at work in areas ranging from artificial intelligence and virtual reality to curing hearing loss through medications versus costly and sometimes uncomfortable hearing aids.

But this is a hyperlocal blog and as such I started to think about what we have to look forward to right here at home.

It’s a good exercise because—believe it or not—there’s a world beyond endless arguments over festivals and budget concerns real or imagined.

Such as:

FAU’s Research Park—I had a chance to have lunch with Park President Andrew Duffel recently and it was enlightening. The park is 90 percent full and there’s interest in the rest of the developable property. The Park is packed with great companies that are creating jobs and influencing industries.

Boca’s Office of Economic Development—If you want to feel good, follow their Facebook feed and learn about all the companies coming to Boca. Jobs too.

Team Delray—It’s a simple idea but oh it can be so very elusive. We are referring to collaboration and team work of course. Team Delray, which consists of a variety of agencies and organizations, has come together to communicate and cooperate. Refreshing.

Impact 100 for Men—Spearheaded by Chuck Halberg, Impact 100 plans to raise at least $100,000 to benefit local non-profits dedicated to children. If you haven’t joined, please consider it. Another great effort by Chuck.

I can go on, but you get the picture.

There is much to be thankful for in Boca and Delray these days. If we look.

There’s Something Happening Here

Ready for lift off.

Ready for lift off.

It feels good to be in on the ground floor of an opportunity.

I’m one of those types who prefer building to maintaining or worse yet protecting a lead.

I was fortunate to move to Delray in the 80s, when the city felt like a start-up and to serve on the City Commission from 2000-07, when the Decade of Excellence had been completed and we had a blank canvas to pursue a continuation of the vision—one that built on and complemented the excellent work that had been done before our group got elected.

So I was intrigued when I was asked to serve on the advisory board for Tech Runway, a new initiative at Florida Atlantic University that is seeking to build something special.

Tech Runway is nestled next to the runway at Boca Airport on FAU’s campus. The space—vast and teeming with possibility—houses start-up companies and events. It seeks to be a leading part of a growing ecosystem for entrepreneurship and technology taking root in South Florida.

When it comes to the entrepreneurial space you can feel the ground shifting in our region. Miami is on fire, with maker space, co-working, tech companies, VC’s and innovation in everything from augmented reality and finance to food and the arts.

Fort Lauderdale is also experiencing somewhat of a renaissance downtown, with condo projects, office space and a wonderful entrepreneurial hub named Thesis (http://www.thes.is/).

In Palm Beach County, downtown Boca Raton seems on the verge and the Arvida Park of Commerce has new energy and new policies to drive investment. FAU and Lynn are gaining momentum and the county’s chief economic development office, The Business Development Board of Palm Beach County is focusing efforts and energy on entrepreneurship and retention. FAU’s Research Park, under the very capable leadership of Andrew Duffel, is also a player to be watched as it celebrates its 30th anniversary.

The county’ public school system also has bright spots including Boca High’s STEM program, Atlantic’s vaunted IB program and Spanish River High School’s entrepreneurship academy.

Hopefully, we can find a way to keep our young talent home, even if many might go away for college.

As Scooter Willis of FAU’s Tech Garage (also an amazing asset) puts it “find a way to get as many smart people here as possible and good things will happen.”

Amen.

Headwinds? We have a few.

A lack of VC’s. A lack of angels. A lack of seed funders. The Gold Coast Venture Capital Association is making amazing strides and should be applauded, but we need more capital willing to get in the game. Talented engineers and entrepreneurs will follow the money which historically has been in places like Austin, Boulder, Boston, the Valley and NY. We are going to need to get in the game soon and in a big way…a way that makes a splash, hits all the blogs and is covered in Inc., and Fast Company.

The dollars are here, what’s missing is the monomaniac on a mission who either can write the check or find the check and build the funding mechanism around it.

Manny Medina and others are doing it in Miami. A visionary developer is doing it in Wynwood and another in Miami’s design district.

While it definitely takes a village to build an ecosystem it doesn’t hurt to have a leader.

Think about companies: Amazon is Bezos. Virgin is Branson. Tesla is Musk. Facebook is Zuckerberg.

Same with local areas that make the leap: Fred Wilson in NYC, Brad Feld in Boulder are but two examples.

In South Florida, the Knight Foundation is playing a catalytic role but there is room in Palm Beach County—room in Boca Raton and Delray Beach for leadership, vision and drive.

The talent is here, if we can keep it home. The lifestyle is here. The moment is here, if we seize it.

Tech Runway will be a major driver, but the beauty of building an ecosystem is it’s not a zero sum game. The rising tide does lift all boats. There’s room for many to take the ride.

 

 

FAU & Lynn: Driving Local Innovation

President John Kelly has energized not only FAU but the broader community.

President John Kelly has energized not only FAU but the broader community as well.

We pride ourselves on being local trend spotters here at YourDelrayBoca.com.

So we are proud to announce that we are seeing a positive trend taking shape in Boca Raton, which will impact the entire region.

Our two local universities FAU and Lynn are making major strides to deepen their excellence, expand their influence and increase their relevance to our local economy.

This is important because both FAU and Lynn are major drivers of intellectual capital and leaders in how our region is viewed by the world. If the Boca area is seen as an intellectual hub and a magnet for young talent, it virtually guarantees economic sustainability and quality of life for the entire community.

FAU has clearly been invigorated by the leadership of President John Kelly. Great leaders engage with the world and bring energy to institutions.  In his first year, Dr. Kelly’s drive and ambition for FAU has clearly penetrated not only the university community but the outside world as well.

A recent agreement to partner with Scripps Florida and the Max Planck Institute is just one of many partnerships fostered as a result of his energetic leadership. It seems that wherever we travel these days, the topic of FAU comes up in conversation and usually in terms of collaboration and external outreach. In Delray alone, the university is working with Delray Students First, Dare 2 Be Great and the Achievement Centers for Children and Families.

VP of Public Service Jorge Calzadilla and his team have been making the rounds and turning heads in the community with their zeal to make an impact and to turn FAU into a university of national significance.

Calzadilla came with President Kelly from Clemson where he served 27 years and did remarkable work impacting children in South Carolina. If you meet Jorge, you can’t help but be swept up by his enthusiasm and vision for FAU.

On the research front, we recently had a chance to hear new VP of Research Dan Flynn discuss his plans to turn FAU into a major research institution complete with patents, start-ups, commercialization efforts, student research opportunities, faculty initiatives and major grants. Flynn has done it before at other institutions and sees no barriers to FAU becoming a world class research center utilizing the amazing natural resources provided by the ocean and the Everglades.

All of this is good news for students, our region, Boca and Delray, alumni and the general community.  Not only will a reinvigorated FAU attract talent, it will help our region retain its young minds. Already in some of our work with young students in Delray and Boca we are beginning to hear a desire to stay home and attend FAU or come back home for graduate work. And keep an eye on FAU’s Tech Runway and Research Park because within a decade or even sooner you will see the first superstar company launched right here in our backyard. All of the elements are in place.

This is great news for those of us who value economic development and it provides our region with an opportunity to go beyond food, beverage, services, construction, tourism and retirees to fuel our economy.

At Lynn University, President Kevin Ross and his leadership team are innovating on multiple fronts.

From a curriculum that is high on relevance and providing hands on experience in an increasingly global society to a very impactful partnership with a little company in Cupertino called Apple, Lynn’s campus crackles with excitement.

Dr. Ross has attracted a top-notch faculty attracted by the opportunity to innovate and a diverse student body that is placing a premium on making an impact on the world.

Whenever I visit with President Ross I’m reminded of a saying: “Normal” is what the majority does, which is why “different” is so much more interesting.

Indeed.

And Lynn has transformed its model to be both different and compelling.

To have both Boca universities performing at high levels at the same time is a unique and happy circumstance.

Switched on cities, progressive non-profits, schools and businesses will find ways to tap into the innovation and excellence happening at Lynn and FAU.

And that’s good news for Boca Raton and Delray Beach.