By Rob Panepinto
When people think about how the Incubators are funded, they generally assume we are part of the overall UCF budget and operations. While the University provides valuable access to expertise, administrative, operational, and marketing support, and perhaps most importantly, the power and reputation of the UCF brand in the community, the vast majority of our funding comes from local County and Municipal governments and economic development organizations, like the Florida High Corridor.
Local governments recognize the critical importance entrepreneurs play in creating jobs, scaling innovation, and diversifying our economy, with the UCF Business Incubator and all of you playing a key role in that strategy. More specifically, within our Innovation District Incubators, Orange County and the City of Orlando look to us to drive growth in specific technology clusters leveraging access to university and industry expertise in Research Park, Downtown, and Lake Nona. Within our Regional Business Incubators in Winter Springs, Volusia County, Kissimmee, and Orlando, we are collectively key creators of local job growth and innovation.
Outside of the general operation of the Incubators, these funding sources also help drive the innovative and new programming we need to help our clients scale. For example, when we felt we needed a full-time resource to allow us to scale our First customer and Mentorship programs, the Florida High Tech Corridor provided the additional dollars we needed to add to our team.
Appropriately, our government funders ask us to provide metrics and reporting to show the impact on our community and measure the effectiveness of their spending of taxpayers hard earned dollars. We are proud to say that for every $1 invested by our government partners, we return $12 in value.
However, this is why your participation in and response to our quarterly economic development report and annual surveys are so critical. The quarterly data, which is reported on an aggregate level (we never share client-specific data) is the basis for the reporting we provide to our government funders. The annual survey allows us to measure your satisfaction with the UCF Business Incubation program broadly but also gives us valuable feedback that leads to the development of new programs and potential funding partners, such as the First Customer and Mentorship initiatives.
The UCF Business Incubation program is truly a community collaboration in support of helping innovative entrepreneurs scale throughout Central Florida.
The University of Central Florida Business Incubation Program is a community resource that provides early-stage companies with the tools, training, and infrastructure to become financially stable, high growth/impact enterprises. Since 1999, this award-winning program has provided vital business development resources resulting in over 300 local startup companies reaching their potential faster and graduating into the community where they continue to grow and positively impact the local economy.
With eight facilities throughout the region, the UCF Business Incubation Program is an economic development partnership between the University of Central Florida, the Corridor, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, and Volusia Counties, and the cities of Kissimmee, Orlando, and Winter Springs. For the 2017/2018 fiscal years, the activities of these participating firms have helped to sustain more than 6,725 local jobs and have had a cumulative impact of over $725 million on regional GDP and over $1.3 billion on regional sales. During the same period, the program has returned more than $12.00 in state and local taxes for every $1.00 invested in the program. In addition, for every $1.00 of public investment, the firms also produced $118 of additional regional GDP and $226 of regional sales. For more information, visit www.incubator.ucf.edu.