February 2014 economic news, notes and commentary from North Florida.
Greater Prominence In Cancer Care
The University of Florida Health Cancer Center appears on a path to prominence.
In late September, Gov. Rick Scott proposed $80 million for statewide cancer research, with most of it earmarked for creating National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers. While becoming such a center is a long and expensive process, the potential new funding bodes well for UF Health, as well as the University of Miami’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. Both are vying for NCI recognition by 2019, a move that would lead to improved quality of care and research, according to UF officials.
At present, Florida has one NCI-designated cancer center, Tampa’s Moffitt Cancer Center. Notably, Scott hopes the three hospitals will complement one another, given their geographic reach.
Additionally, last December UF Health announced a partnership with Orlando Health, further strengthening its position. Also, in January UF Health Cancer Center at Orlando Health and the Cancer Support Community launched an initiative to ensure that patients with cancer and their families receive needed support in Orange, Seminole, Osceola and Lake counties.
“As UF Health strengthens its commitment to patient care and cancer research through a dedicated cancer hospital and a new partnership with Orlando Health, Gov. Scott’s proposal provides welcome support for the battle against cancer in Florida,” comments UF President Bernie Machen.
Sports Medicine Research
Banyan Biomarkers Inc. in Alachua has received a $300,000 award from the National Football League and General Electric to improve detection of concussions through research led by a University of Florida football team physician. The goal is to create a test that can diagnose brain injuries within 30 minutes by detecting specific proteins in blood, much the way a glucose meter gives instant warnings to diabetics. Getting fast results could be critical to informing decisions about whether a soldier is fit to fight, a construction worker can go back on a beam or a player can safely return to the field. There are an estimated 1.6 million to 3.8 million sports-related traumatic brain injuries reported in the U.S. annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including concussions that can cause long-term damage.
Florida Power & Light
Kudos to Florida Power & Light for making the list of “Top 10 Utilities in Economic Development” for 2013, as published in Site Selection magazine. The annual honor is based on criteria such as job creation and capital investment in a utility’s service area, a utility’s website tools and data, innovative program offerings for businesses, and input from site location decision-makers throughout the U.S. The utility, serving nearly half of Florida, launched an economic development program in 2011 that offers rate discounts tied to job creation.
Energizing news for the Cade Museum in Gainesville: The Martin Andersen-Gracia Andersen Foundation Inc. has pledged to match 50 percent of the donations made to the museum’s capital campaign up to $300,000 for the next two years. Founded by the family of the late Dr. James Robert Cade, lead scientist behind Gatorade, the Cade Museum is an interactive museum designed to foster creativity in future inventors and early entrepreneurs. The facility is scheduled to open in late 2015.
Applied Genetic Technologies
Keep an eye on Applied Genetic Technologies, an Alachua-based clinical-stage biotech firm that uses gene therapy to develop treatments for eye and lung diseases. It has filed with the SEC to raise up to $70 million in an initial public offering. The company, founded in 1999 and a graduate of the UF Sid Martin Biotech Incubator, plans to list on the NASDAQ under the symbol AGTC. In the 12 months ended Sept. 30, 2013, the company booked $1 million in grant and collaboration revenue.
Florida Farm Bureau
For the second year in a row, the Florida Farm Bureau in Gainesville has received a coveted national award for its programs and operations. The organization received the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 2013 Pinnacle Award, the highest recognition conferred to a state farm bureau. The award denotes the Florida Farm Bureau as the best in the nation within its membership class. The Florida Farm Bureau is the state’s largest general agricultural organization, with more than 147,000 member-families representing farm bureaus in 60 counties.