The University of Florida campus (Pic by Random McRandomhead, via Flickr)

In a new report, Florida Tax Watch examines technology transfer from Florida universities to private companies and the new jobs, and startup companies that result. Tax Watch, which describes itself as “a statewide, non-profit, non-partisan taxpayer research institute and government watchdog,” calls on Florida to get more mileage out of technology at universities rather than handing it off to private business.

Though the Scott administration’s attempts at privatization have drawn the ire of some (an attempt to privatize several state parks, for example, was met with disdain on behalf of lawmakers and citizens), the governor might be open to Tax Watch’s ideas. The group’s 2011 budget recommendations, which contained $4.1 billion in cuts, were strikingly similar to the budget Scott eventually proposed.

Scott has openly said that, when it comes to higher education reform, he’d like to take cues from Texas, which has been attempting to create business-like models for state universities by instituting teacher merit pay and increasing class sizes, but he has said nothing of which direction he’d like to take university technology.

Tax Watch’s report cites universities themselves as leaders in technological innovation, and even potential money-makers for the state’s education system. ”Some of the most recognizable inventions in the country are from Florida’s University system,” reads the report. “Of notable mention are; Gatorade®, invented at the University of Florida, and a process to synthesize Taxol® (a chemotherapy drug) developed at Florida State University. These inventions alone have provided millions of dollars for their universities.”

According to the report, having an effective technology transfer office is one of the keys to taking university inventions to market, as is encouraging inventors to turn their products into a startup company.

From the report:

There is no doubt that Florida universities must become more of a focus for potential economic development and job creation. Tech transfer managers have indicated that approximately one‐third of companies who start using technology licensed from Florida universities end up in another state. That means that around two‐thirds of the newly‐created companies stay in Florida. Approximately half of these companies that stay in Florida remain in the area of the university where the license agreement took place. Therefore, state leaders, as well as local leaders, should begin to focus on both the job‐creating and the company‐creating potential of their local universities.

Read the full report here (.pdf).

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