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KRISTINA ORREGO/Alachua County Today

The Annual Celebration of Biotechnology brings together the medical and scientific community in one location.

ALACHUA – The city of Alachua continued to demonstrate its status as an emerging leader in biotechnology last Thursday, when RTI Surgical hosted the 13th Annual BioFlorida Celebration of Biotechnology in Progress Park.  

From 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., the showcase brought more than 80 exhibitors and 500 professionals from the state and country to network as well as present their new products.

Some of the key spokespeople included Nancy Bryan, the president and CEO of BioFlorida, David Day, the assistant vice principal and director of UF’s Office of Licensing Technology and Mark Long, the director of the UF Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator.

In an interview, Day praised RTI Surgical for its growth, calling it the largest and most successful university spinoff in the state.

“The fact that this business has been created, that has grown to 5 [500], 600 employees here and has acquired companies from around the United States and from other continents,” he said. “It has over 1,200 employees now. It’s a huge success story for us.”

Day also took the opportunity to recognize AGTC, a local biotech company that is producing cures for degenerative ocular diseases, and AxoGen, which has created products to treat nerve-related ailments.

“Those are some things that are furthest into the market place,” he said. “But we’re having a part of creating dozens of new companies this year with all sorts of interesting stuff.”

Long, who was named the new director of Sid Martin in January, said current research is also focusing on developing a vaccine for salmonella, a bacteria encountered in foodborne illnesses, and hepatitis B, a liver infection which affects a large segment of the population.

He also said Captozyme is making advancements in the treatment of kidney stones.

“Tucker-Davis Technologies makes electronic equipment for the diagnosis and early treatment of epilepsy,” Long said. “All these things are remarkable to be here in central Florida [and] north central Florida, where we have a critical mass of biotechnology companies.”

Long said the scope of the cooperation from different companies has extended internationally, to nations such as Chile, Russia and universities in China and Malaysia.

“We just had a delegation from Chile,” he said. “And we have put into practice memorandum of cooperation of the Chilean university down there to exchange companies that they have of interest to us and want to enter the U.S. market.

“Having those cooperative agreements between incubators and the power of the University of Florida behind us makes it very appealing for them to sign joint agreements with us.”

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