The job-generating program now has three Orlando facilities at the UCF campus, in Central Florida Research Park and on SR 50 near downtown, and seven more in St. Cloud, Kissimmee, Sanford, Winter Springs, Leesburg, Daytona Beach and Apopka.
Dr. Tom O’Neal, who founded the program and has guided it to prominence as one of the most active university-based business incubation programs in the U.S., said each incubation facility is a partnership that pairs the university with counties and local municipalities to support local startup businesses that demonstrate strong potential for success.
Dr. O’Neal said a series of city-county partnerships as rank as the most critical elements of the UCF Business Incubation Program. Other partnerships with organizations such as the Florida High Tech Corridor and local professional service providers make the program a model other regions try to emulate.
“City and county governments have a vested interest in generating local economic growth and business incubation programs have shown to be one of the most cost-effective economic development efforts a city or county can undertake,” Dr. O’Neal said.
Since its launch in 1999, the UCF Business Incubation Program has generated more than 3,000 home-grown jobs.
Recently, Dr. O’Neal has been working on an Angel Investor Network to provide early stage funding for promising startup companies.
“Talent and capital are the two biggest needs in the economic development arena,” Dr. O’Neal said. “We have talent. Our Angel Investor Network was created to link talented entrepreneurs with investors who can help turn good ideas into successful ventures that in turn create good jobs locally,” O’Neal said.
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