Spotlight On:
Andrew Duffell, President, Research Park at Florida Atlantic University

Spotlight On:
Andrew Duffell, President, Research Park at Florida Atlantic University

2022-07-13T02:08:19-04:00March 27th, 2020|Economy, Palm Beach, Technology & Innovation|

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read March 2020 — Research Park at Florida Atlantic University is a public-private partnership that serves as a hub for translating new technologies into the marketplace. Over 32 companies are based there, working on discoveries and technology innovation for the medical and healthcare sectors among others, said President Andrew Duffell. Many of the companies at Research Park are growing past the startup stage, while at the same time the park places a keen focus on attracting established international, tech-based companies to the Palm Beach region, Duffell told Invest:. 

What were some major developments for Research Park at Florida Atlantic University in 2019?

In 2019, we had over 800 people working at the Research Park among the 32 companies that are based here. The really important metric that we saw emerge last year was the number of discoveries that were patented and the quality of collaborations that are happening between the various companies and FAU, which continues to improve year over year. A number of our companies are progressing through their life cycles from startups to second stage, benefiting from our economic gardening initiatives. We have seen an uptick in the budgets for research and development over the years that we expect to start yielding results this year and next.

What sectors are set to benefit from the discoveries made at Research Park?

The majority of the discoveries that were made are in the medical and healthcare space. We have companies working on mental health, medical devices, therapeutics and healthcare IT. We are excited to see a real concentration in the healthcare space, with an emphasis on the interface between healthcare technologies and how healthcare is delivered to patients, which synchronizes well with how we see Florida Atlantic University growing, particularly in the southern Palm Beach County and northern Broward County region. The healthcare industry as a whole is really ripe for innovation, and this is where we are starting to see commercial activity developing, which is very gratifying. While we are affiliated with the university, we are a separate organization: our focus is on economic development and the translation of new technologies into the marketplace. 

In what ways is the Palm Beach region advancing workforce development efforts?

In terms of workforce development, I think Florida is ahead of the pack. We have had a strong workforce development system for a number of years. Research Park at FAU companies and their employees can take advantage of continuing education courses at FAU that are flexible in terms of schedule and pricing: some are for credit, some are for certificates. These have been really valuable. Palm Beach State College also has some fantastic courses in degree and non-degree fields. I think we have held our own in that regard and the employers have seen the value in upgrading the skill set of their employees as a way to retain them. Many employers are investing more in their employees, using flexible work schedules, more work from home and more team-building activities.

What is the focus for Research Park heading into the future?

We’ve made a determination to follow FAU’s significant expertise in its strategic pillars. We want to work with technology companies that will complement those areas, which are the life sciences, sensors and embedded networks and A.I. We are looking for companies that are working in those spaces that will be able to add to work already being developed at FAU, or contribute new ideas to their research. We are seeing a lot of this activity and we think there is potential overseas as well, and would like to bring those companies to Palm Beach County and to scale up their business here. We are looking for companies that are in the second stage, beyond the startup phase, in their home countries and have their concepts developed, are seeing revenues and have investors. We want to find those really promising companies and bring them to Palm Beach County. That is what we are embarking on this year and we are seeing a lot of activity in the sensor and A.I. space in places like Brazil, Canada and Israel.

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