Startup companies ranging from enzyme therapeutics to event booking software were recognized by Gov. Rick Scott for entrepreneurial success Thursday.
The governor visited the Florida Innovation Hub at the University of Florida to award seven young entrepreneurs for “excelling in the workplace” and creating jobs through innovative businesses.
Among those recognized was Aaron Cowley, who started the enzyme therapy company Captozyme in 2009, which works to prevent kidney diseases.
“You have to be willing to go out and take the risk,” Cowley advised to any young person thinking about taking the plunge and starting a business.
He said the state recognition from the governor means a lot. Scott focused his speech on the job creation the companies have made.
“You have so many wonderful individuals here that are going to be leaders in building business and creating a lot of jobs for our children – in my case, grandchildren – so they can live the dreams that they have,” Scott said.
The director of the Innovation Hub, Jane Muir, spoke about upcoming expansion plans, saying the Economic Development Administration has put forward an $8 million grant, and UF pledged another $9 million for the center to double in size.
Muir attributed the center’s growth to the roughly 60 companies creating more than 760 jobs in the last three and a half years. Together, the startups from the Innovation Hub have brought in more than $50 million worth of private investments.
Also in attendance for the awards ceremony was UF President Kent Fuchs. Fuchs acknowledged the university enjoys celebrating the accomplishments of alumni. He said the role of a research-intensive university helps drive the economy.
“You’re educating people and you’re also creating jobs as part of that process which really drives the economy of the city, the state and indeed the nation,” Fuchs said.
Fuchs was happy the governor came to tour the Innovation Hub and acknowledge several successful entrepreneurs that have come out of it so far. He called the governor his friend, and said Scott shares UF’s aspirations of preeminence.
Scott closed the awards ceremony by expressing his confidence that more entrepreneurs will come out of the Innovation Hub.
“I look forward to coming back and doing this again.”