Keeping Florida’s Innovated College Graduates in State

Florida’s secondary education system is focusing on driving innovation through small business and entrepreneurship. Universities such as the University of Florida, the University of Miami and Florida Atlantic University are involved in this drive through a statewide economic development called the Institute for Commercialization of Public Research.

This development was launched at FAU’s Research Park after the program was originally created at UF. The research these universities are creating is being fueled into small businesses that are changing healthcare and environmental sustainability.  An example of this development comes from a University of Miami student Matthew Kim who was fueled to innovate after his mother was diagnosed with oral cancer. Kim was able to create a company called Vigilant Biosciences, which is now focusing its research on ways to detect oral cancer earlier.

Small businesses are now accounting for four out of five new jobs in Florida, according to the Florida Chamber of Commerce. The Institute for Commercialization of Public Research is able to generate enough private capital that some of the jobs being created are supporting an average salary of $74,000 per year. There are numerous other states that also have programs similar that support innovation, so creating an incentive for these Florida graduates to stay in state is the priority. 


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Nick Banks

Nick created Front Street Commercial Real Estate Group in 2002 and spent the first eight years developing and acquiring office and retail projects in South Florida as well as North Central Florida. In 2010 the focus of the firm was shifted to primarily serve third party clients and perform brokerage, property management and mortgage banking functions. Nick has personally developed and acquired nearly 200,000 square feet of office and retail properties in markets throughout Florida. Prior to founding Front Street, Nick was the Director of Finance and Dispositions for Stiles Corporation in Fort Lauderdale where he financed and sold over $500 million in commercial real estate. Before joining Stiles, Nick was an Associate Director at GE Capital Real Estate where he sourced over $200 million in financing throughout Florida. Nick is a graduate of the University of Florida with a degree in Finance and a concentration in Real Estate. He serves as a board member and current vice-chair for the United Way of North Central Florida where he also chairs the Development Committee. Nick is actively involved with the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce where he serves as a board member and committee member for the Council for Economic Outreach. He is also a recent graduate of Leadership Gainesville which is a year long leadership program hosted by the Chamber. He is a member of Grace United Methodist Church where he has served as finance chair and as a member of the leadership council. Nick serves as an advisory board member of the University of Florida Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies. Nick was recently named chair of the Gainesville committee for the North Florida chapter of Urban Land Institute (ULI). He is a licensed real estate broker in the State of Florida and is a long time member of the International Council of Shopping Centers.

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