UF, UF Health to create new technology innovation incubator

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The University of Florida and the Norman Fixel Institute for Neurological Diseases at UF Health announced today the creation of a new Research and Technology Innovation Incubator. 

Selected for support through UF President Ben Sasse’s strategic funding process, this 20,000-square-foot space will serve as a state-of-the-art hub for interdisciplinary collaborations among the colleges. The $960,000 initiative also will establish the Fixel Institute as an international destination for leading-edge science and collaboration. 

After UF received $130 million in new funding from the Florida Legislature this year, Sasse established that more than half of it must be used for strategic purposes. Thus far, $24 million has been given to college deans directly to support strategic uses of these funds, and another $50 million will be available through a competitive selection process across the university’s colleges and administrative units. In the first round, awarded in October, 19 projects received funding. 

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“A Research and Technology Innovation Incubator hub will be transformative for the University of Florida and for the nation,” said Dr. Michael S. Okun, director of the Fixel Institute. “We must rise to meet the growing challenges of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s, ALS, Alzheimer’s, dystonia, CTE, and many others. The Fixel Institute is the ideal place to do this and do it now.” 

To be located at the Fixel Institute campus on Williston Road, the facility will house researchers from several UF colleges, including the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering, the College of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the College of Health and Human Performance, the College of Public Health & Health Professions, and the College of the Arts. The hub will also support new artificial intelligence and imaging hires across the colleges. 

“Imagine a collaborative research space designed to bring together clinicians, engineers, scientists, industry partners, and patients drawn from every college and every clinic at the University of Florida and UF Health,” said Dr. Kelly D. Foote, co-director of the Fixel Institute. “It will be a tremendous collection of talent that will drive the most innovative solutions to impact this generation and the next.” 

The new innovation incubator was among seven projects funded in the second round. 

“We need solid, strong solutions for treating neurodegenerative diseases, and investing in the Research and Technology Innovation Incubator for the Fixel Institute will help us get there,” Sasse said. “This project has the potential to save lives for years to come.” 

Established in 2019, the Fixel Institute is one of the nation’s most comprehensive and collaborative research centers. In partnership with UF Health, it connects more than 200 faculty members including neurologists, neurosurgeons, researchers, and more — all dedicated to clinical research and patient care for neurological disorders. 

That number will only grow with the incubator. 

“There is an urgency to collect the best minds and to create next-generation solutions,” Okun said. “The Fixel Institute and Gator Nation are poised to lead the way.” 

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