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Florida’s hodge-podge of scientists, institutions, and funding
This outstanding article in the Sun Sentinel about the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Florida is written by Jeremy Ring, who represents District 32 in the Florida Senate and has fought tirelessly in Tallahassee for policies that encourage entrepreneurial activity in the State. (We have written on the topic ourselves here, here, here and here.)
Senator Ring argues, convincingly, that Florida has all the necessary pieces for a “21st century innovative economy [that] creates wealth and results in consumer spending and ultimately a strong work-force” and has only to interconnect those pieces and better market them to the rest of the world.
He also offers recommendations to strengthen the entire ecosystem – from primary research through to large public companies – and laments an issue we see all too often: even our state’s (and region’s) attractive overall business climate cannot ensure that our entrepreneurs will get the support they need.
In order for innovative ideas to grow to profitable and sustainable levels, there are many steps that are required — and that Florida must embrace. The initial step is to have an incubator environment. Seed funding is crucial for entrepreneurs to develop business plans, hire attorneys to ensure proper governance, apply for patents and trademarks, secure proof of sales, and to attract executives and additional engineering talent. All this must be in place before a real venture capital commitment could be considered. The next challenge is to ensure that a robust venture capital network exists. Without it, companies that do ultimately attract professional funding are often relocated to other parts of the country, where the investor can monitor or oversee their investment.
We once wrote of America’s hodge-podge of scientists, institutions, and funding; innovative companies are generated not only from the availability of seed capital but the structure of the early-stage investing ecosystem. What is true for the nation is true for Florida, perhaps more so: our widely dispersed urban centers present additional challenges to networking, collaboration, and the ongoing management of ventures. Efforts by leaders in the state government or private actors (such as the Florida Venture Forum) can thicken and strengthen the connections amongst our researchers, investors and entrepreneurs.