The Case for Incubation

Tom O’Neil, Associate Vice President of Research and Commercialization at the University of Central Florida has contributed a passionate article to Forbes supporting business incubators. With the Florida Innovation Hub at UF and Santa Fe’s Gainesville Technology Entrepreneurship Center (GTEC), business incubators are a big deal in Gainesville. There are many proponents of the concept, but also many critics. 

Critics often complain that incubators serve as pressure free environments for under-performing startups to merely exist in, without focusing on growth. Mr. O’Neil has some words for these critics. One issue Mr. O’Neil points out is the over use of the term “incubator.” Recently, the term has been thrown around to describe real estate deals where startups are given a break on rent. Real incubation, as Mr. O’Neil argues, is much more than just a location. It’s a university supported program with a rigorous set of objectives, and a community of supporters available for advice and counseling. Real incubators are eager to bid their startups farewell, and hold the companies accountable for their growth goals. Mr. O’Neil also points to hard data as evidence of success. In a study of 448 startups, half in university supported incubation programs and half not, the incubation companies had an average of approximately six more employees than their non-incubator rivals. While this may not seem significant, the difference of six employees is huge in the startup world. Thus, Mr. O’Neil would advocate the continued support of projects such as the Florida Innovation Hub and the GTEC, and he makes a very compelling case. 

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Virginia MacKoul

Virginia is a graduate from the University of Florida's College of Design Construction and Planning with a degree in Sustainability and the Built Environment, and a minor in Urban Regional Planning. Virginia joined the Front Street team in 2011, as an intern. Upon graduation, Virginia joined the Front Street team full-time as the Director of Client Services. Ms. MacKoul’s addition furthers Front Street’s continued growth and expansion within Gainesville and other North Central Florida markets. She was promoted to Director of Marketing in 2014 and now manages the firm’s team of interns and oversees all marketing and branding activity. Virginia was born in Boston and moved to Lee County, Florida in 1997. Virginia graduated her high school's International Baccalaureate program and started at the University of Florida with a focus on Architecture. Virginia shares Front Street's passion of giving back to the community and those in need. Virginia's hobbies include photography, cooking, football, movies, music, and spending time with her dog, Brinkley.

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