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How The University Of Miami Lures Biotech Startups To South Florida

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Alex M. Sanchez/Miami Herald Staff
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Many U.S. cities are competing to bring biotech companies and jobs to their communities, places like Phoenix, Buffalo, Gainesville and of course, Miami.

They all want to develop an industry cluster, and while cities like San Diego and Boston have already successfully grown theirs, Miami’s efforts are still somewhat nascent.

Less than a year ago though, the Miami Innovation Center opened its doors for business at the University of Miami Life Science & Technology Park. The center caters to startups and small businesses with a mix of offices, labs and co-working spaces.

UM’s Life Science & Technology Park sits on about 10 acres near Jackson Memorial Hospital and UM’s medical school, between Northwest 17th and 20th streets and between 7th Avenue and Interstate 95 in Miami.

The signage for the Life Sciences building is prominent, visible to most highway drivers, but it doesn’t tell the full story of just who owns what. This is a project very much born out of partnerships.

The university owns the land, but Wexford Science & Technology developed the building. So far, the developer says 75 percent of the office space has been leased, and tenants are mostly from the biotech sector.

One of the most recent companies to locate in the park is DaVita, which focuses on kidney disease and dialysis treatments.

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Karen Rundlet worked as television news producer for a long, long time in cities like Atlanta, New York, and Miami. Not once during that period did she ever say words like "action" or "cut." Seven years ago, she joined The Miami Herald's newsroom as a Multimedia Manager. She built the company a Video Studio, where sports segments, celebrity reports, and interviews with heads of state have been shot and produced. In 2010, she also began producing a business segment for WLRN/Miami Herald News radio and writing business articles for www.MiamiHerald.com. Karen calls herself "a Miami girl with Jamaican roots," (practically a native) having lived in the city long enough to remember when no one went to South Beach. She spends her weekends with an Arsenal Football loving husband and a young daughter who avoids skirts that aren't "twirly enough."