Andrew Duffell, President of the Research Park at FAU speaks of the ongoing success of the park.
Palm Beach County has a strategic advantage over many competitor locations because it has a research park. Research parks and technology parks are special places where new ventures are encouraged, researchers interact with entrepreneurs and new technologies are commercialized. Palm Beach County is the home to the only state-university affiliated park south of Orlando because of the vision of the Board of County Commissioners in Palm Beach and Broward counties working with Florida Atlantic University back in 1985.
Through this policy innovation, the Research Park at FAU exists as an integral part of the County’s overall economic development strategy.
Our efforts are closely aligned to those of the University as well. In addition to solid academic education and groundbreaking scientific research, FAU provides early-stage support for student and community entrepreneurs with initiatives such as the FAU Wave, Business Plan Competition and of course FAU TechRunway.
Our efforts form part of the later stages of that ecosystem: Global Ventures is an initiative for second stage companies scales companies from 10 people and $1m in revenue to large, sustainable corporate contributors. Then, graduates of Global Ventures can expand into the Research Park at FAU, a place for ongoing growth, innovation and collaboration for mature companies.
The ongoing pandemic had a dramatic effect on business throughout the United States and the Research Park at FAU was no exception. Despite this, our 20 companies showed resilience and persevered to continue innovating. 2021 saw many more job gains than the previous year and we see that growth continuing in 2022. On average, revenues grew 50% throughout last year and investment flows resumed: for example, Material Bank secured $100M in a Series C round and other companies secured $4.5M in federal research grants.
With early support from Mayor Weinroth as well as the leadership of Palm Beach County and Boca Raton, Global Ventures was launched in 2020 as a complement to FAU TechRunway. The idea was to provide ongoing support for companies that have proven their concept and generated revenues and are ready to scale up. Global Ventures recruits these companies and others like them from around the world to expand in Boca Raton, not necessarily to relocate, but to grow into our market, adding three important contributions:
New intellectual property in the form of their technology and ideas
New capital used to invest in the expansion and revenue generation efforts
Net new jobs for residents of Palm Beach County in high tech and value add fields of expertise.
In 2021 alone we successfully recruited 10 new companies from around the Western Hemisphere – from Canada to Argentina - to expand their tech companies here in Boca Raton.
These companies are hard at work on AI technologies, sensors for smart cities and healthcare technologies to name a few. Some of the CEOs are sitting here with us today and I encourage you to welcome them and get to know them as well as our Global Ventures Program Manager Ryan Lilly who will become a familiar face as he works to integrate these companies to our business community. Whenever any of our companies need a referral, we start with the Chamber membership directory.
When creating this initiative, the governing Authority Chairman Michael Allison and Vice Chair Dan Flynn and all the members of the Authority insisted on collaboration with the community. We were only able to fully develop this successful and important initiative with the support and commitment of the City of Boca Raton and Palm Beach County, and I hope you all agree it is an investment with a good return.
With that initial investment, we have also secured valuable financial support from the private sector as you can see. This support and investment enabled us to provide additional resources to our Global Ventures companies in the form of $130,000 direct rental subsidies in 2021, bringing our 10-year direct investment to $1m as well as over 360 hours of direct consulting and advisory services to our companies, helping them grow and do more business with you.
Between the Research Park at FAU and Global Ventures there are 35 companies working hard to improve our lives, working with researchers at FAU to advance discoveries and enrich student experiences so that our economy here in Boca Raton and throughout Palm Beach County is stronger, more diverse and more resilient. We need your ongoing support and appreciate your confidence in our work.