The University of Central Florida’s new 10,000-square-foot Lake Nona Life Sciences Incubator, which opened May 10 on the second floor of GuideWell Innovation Center building, already has three office-based and two lab-based companies inside its walls.
In addition, the incubator expects to fill the remaining five open lab spaces within the next year, said Interim Manager Jim Bowie. “This is the place to be if you want to be involved with life sciences.”
The UCF incubation program in Lake Nona is a partnership between UCF, Florida, the city of Orlando, the Tavistock Group, Florida Hospital and the Florida High Tech Corridor Council. The goal is to help health and science entrepreneurs just beginning their businesses in the region.
The Lake Nona facility cost $4 million plus an additional $1 million for equipment that these entrepreneurs otherwise would be unable to afford on their own.
As part of the incubator program, entrepreneurs are given access to the area’s facilities, plus a plethora of resources for research and coaching. “They provide all kinds of resources,” said Donald Wood, CEO of Inspired Performance Institute, one of the new startups in the incubator.“And Jim Bowie is a great mentor and coach who provides connections. If we are looking for something, he will say, ‘Here’s who you need to talk to or here’s a resource you need to bring in.’ There’s so many resources from the university — it’s a great program.”
The goal of the new Life Science Incubator is to keep local entrepreneurs making medical and scientific breakthroughs in town and help them succeed. “It comes down to: Do we want to lose these startups to other cities, or do we want to keep them in Orlando?” Bowie said.
One of the features keeping these startups in town is the fact that it’s the first incubator with wet lab space in Orlando. A wet lab essentially is a laboratory equipped with the appropriate plumbing, ventilation and equipment to allow for hands-on scientific research and experimentation.
The five startups now in the new incubator include:
- Aviana Molecular Technologies LLC: A point of care (POC) diagnostic company developing a miniaturized biosensor capable of attaching to a smartphone/smart device through Bluetooth or other wireless connections. Its diagnostic system is a simple-to-use, potentially highly sensitive diagnostic platform that can accurately, within 10 -20 minutes, detect a target infectious disease, biomarkers or proteins in both clinical (human and animal) and scientific research settings, said the firm.
- Healthy Life America: Helps families save, live well, balance work and life and plan for the unexpected. Its programs are designed to change lives and support families. Inside Daily Dose America, clients have access to research and how to use the research in your daily life. Clients receive inspirational stories, fun facts and affirmations to build a strong foundation to their daily life.
- Inspired Performance Institute: A wellness program whose mission is to provide the most advanced resources and techniques based on neuroscience and integrate them to enhance performance and wellbeing. It was incorporated in 2015 and sprung from the desire to better understand the effects of trauma on the human brain and how to restore optimal brain functioning in the aftermath of trauma, according to the firm’s Facebook page.
- Merging Traffic: A portfolio management company whose equity-based crowdfunding framework is designed to match entrepreneurs with Accredited Investors, primarily in the fintech, data science, health, real estate, and artificial intelligence sectors. It combines the due diligence of traditional investing methods with the flexibility of an online crowdfunding platform to execute targeted fundraising and diversified fund investments. It is a spin-off of the Institute of Simulation & Training at the University of Central Florida.
SynapCyte: A regenerative bio-therapeutic company focused on research, development, regulatory approval and commercialization of therapies for the treatment of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Its patented technologies are designed to treat Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease by stimulating in the patient’s brain the production and proliferation of the pre-existing human stem cells, thus regenerating brain cells lost in patient’s suffering from these neurodegenerative diseases.