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January 9, 2004

Jacob Dipietre
(850) 488-5394 or
Susanne Darna
(850) 487-2568

Governor Bush Recommends $20 Million for Additional Centers of Excellence
Funding will expand current Centers of Excellence to five statewide

GAINESVILLE — Governor Jeb Bush today joined business and university leaders to announce that he will recommend $20 million in his fiscal year 2004-05 budget for the state's Centers of Excellence program, which fosters innovative, cutting-edge technology research at Florida's colleges and universities. The Governor made the announcement during a visit to the McKnight Brain Institute at the University of Florida. The University of Florida's Center of Excellence in Regenerative Health Biotechnology is one of the first three Centers established by the 2002 Florida Technology Development Act.

"I am committed to ever-elevating Florida's research and technological base as it is intimately tied to ensuring an economic future we can all be proud of." said Governor Bush. "With this investment, Florida will continue move in the forefront of scientific research and innovation, and further diversify its already vibrant economy."

As part of his ongoing focus to diversify the economy, this budget recommendation is one in a series of efforts the Governor has championed to build Florida's overall research and emerging technology base. Most recently, Governor Bush announced the State's successful effort to attract the world renowned Scripps Research Institute to expand into West Palm Beach.

"The University of Florida is proud to be a part of the Governor's Centers of Excellence initiative. Research and economic diversification are critical factors in making Florida an increasingly prominent technology state. These Centers of Excellence are a clear demonstration of the Governor's commitment to the advancement of technology and innovation in Florida," said UF President J. Bernard Machen.

The aim of the Centers of Excellence program include:

  • Forming collaborative partnerships to foster and promote the research required to develop commercially promising, innovative and advance technologies;

  • Recruiting and retaining world-class scholars, high-performing students, and leading scientist and engineers in technology disciplines;

  • Enhancing and expanding technology curricula and laboratory resources at universities and research centers in Florida; and

  • Stimulating and supporting inception, growth, and diversification of technology-based businesses in Florida and increasing employment opportunities for the workforce needed to support such businesses.

The Centers of Excellence program was established during the 2002 legislative session as part of the Florida Technology Development Act. This Act authorized the use of $30 million to fund up to five Centers of Excellence as recommended by the Emerging Technology Commission. Housed within the Governor's Office of Tourism, Trade, and Economic Development, the statutorily created Commission is responsible for reviewing prospective Center applications and submitting recommendations to the State Board of Education for approval and enactment. To date, Florida has invested $30 million to create three Centers of Excellence: The Center of Excellence in Regenerative Health Biotechnology at the University of Florida; The Florida Photonics Center of Excellence at the University of Central Florida, and; The Florida Center of Excellence in Biomedical and Marine Biotechnology at Florida Atlantic University.

Governor Bush continues with his second term commitment to further diversify Florida's economy, with particular emphasis on three efforts: securing the Permanent Secretariat of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) in Miami; protecting the state's military installations from the proposed 2005 round of federal base realignment and closure (BRAC) process; and fostering the development of emerging technologies, in part through university-based Centers of Excellence aimed to espouse unique, world-class high technology research and development. The Governor has appointed select high-level committees to lead the state's efforts on each front.

The University of Florida's Center of Excellence for Regenerative Health Biotechnology (CERHB) was founded in 2003 with a $10M grant from the State of Florida. The mission of the CERHB is to stimulate promising research and facilitate commercialization of technologies that will provide treatments and cures for human diseases, as well as create new companies and high-wage jobs for Florida. Three initiatives facilitate this mission: expanding clinical biopharmaceutical manufacturing capacity, implementing training programs, and fostering regenerative health research. New high-tech jobs will be created with the opening of the Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing Facility, the maturation of existing start-up companies, and establishment of new companies.

Joining Governor Bush at today's announcement was Jim Horne, commissioner of the Florida Department of Education, Bernie Machen, president of the University of Florida, Joe Lacher, chairman of the Emerging Technologies Commission, Winn Philips, vice president of research at the University of Florida, Representative Larry Cretul, Carolyn Roberts, chairwoman of the Board of Governors, Dr. MJ Soileau, University of Central Florida Center of Excellence, Brent Christensen, Gainesville Economic Alliance and Jack Sullivan, Florida Research Consortium.