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Business Observer Friday, Sep. 28, 2012 9 years ago

Corporate Report: September 28

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A roundup of the top corporate news of the week.

USF, partners creating Tampa business incubator
A regional partnership led by the University of South Florida has been awarded $1 million by the U.S. Commerce Department to support new Web and mobile app ventures.

The federal grant is one of just seven i6 Challenge grants awarded nationwide this year and the only one of its kind awarded this year in the Southeast. The proposal, which is projected to create 245 high-wage jobs, pairs selected new business ventures with dedicated mentors and supports the fledgling businesses with an array of resources and services.

The grant will be used to create and operate The FirstWaVE Venture Center, an innovation and incubation center to be headquartered in downtown Tampa. The center will initially serve the eight Florida counties that make up the greater Tampa Bay area.

“This grant will help support tech entrepreneurs in those fragile first years as they take their new ideas to market,” USF President Judy Genshaft says in a press release.

The i6 Challenge grant — working through Tampa Bay WaVE — will help at least 50 Florida-based startup companies secure early-stage funding.

In addition to the $1 million grant, another $1 million in cash and in-kind contributions is provided from members of the partnership.

The project is led by Tracey Swartz, assistant director of USF's innovation and incubation program; Sudeep Sarkar, USF's associate vice president for research and innovation and professor of computer science and engineering; and Linda Olson, founder and executive director of Tampa Bay WaVE.

Evolucia hires former Green Jets executive as CFO
Sarasota-based Evolucia Inc. has appointed Charles Rockwood as the company's executive vice president and chief financial officer. Rockwood has more than 25 years of financial and operational experience with a focus on public and regulated business environments. Most recently, Rockwood was the chief financial officer for West Palm Beach-based private aircraft sharing company Green Jets Inc.

Rockwood has held a number of positions responsible for financial management, mergers and acquisitions, business development, fulfillment and legal and compliance.

Rockwood will be responsible for all aspects of financial management of Evolucia and will oversee the company's reporting, strategic financial planning and budgeting activities. In addition, Rockwood will evaluate potential mergers and acquisitions and oversee treasury and risk management.

“Charles' first responsibility is to design the financial roadmap for the next 24 months of growth, and to implement any needed processes and controls that coincide with the execution of that roadmap,” Evolucia CEO Mel Interiano says in a press release.

Innovaro sells divisions to IP Technology Exchange
Tampa-based Innovaro Inc. and Innovaro Europe Ltd. have sold their pharmaceutical licensing, global licensing, pharma transfer and knowledge express operating divisions to IP Technology Exchange Inc.

The companies agreed to the $2 million purchase price to be paid out in phases. A lump sum of $600,000 has already been paid, and another $70,000 will go to the divisions' existing debit. IP Technology Exchange Inc. also agreed to make quarterly payments of $100,000 through August 2014, and to pay any of the remaining balance by Sept. 1, 2014.

The divisions provide consulting and licensing services to assist with business development tools, intellectual property research and licensing capabilities, and technology acquisition advice.

IP Technology says it will focus on expanding the divisions and extending the business model for licensing partnerships and new market opportunities.

A separate partnering agreement provides a commission for sharing client leads.

“We expect the sale will strengthen our balance sheet and provide us with the ability to extend our software capabilities to deliver additional solutions for our clients' big data problems,” Asa Lanum, Innovaro's CEO, says in a press release.

Tech Data Corp. issuing new debit for acquisitions
Clearwater-based Tech Data Corp. plans to issue $350 million worth of 3.75% senior notes loans due in 2017.

Tech Data expects the offering will generate $346 million, after deducting underwriting discounts and estimated offering expenses. It will use most of the money to acquire the shares of several distribution companies belonging to Specialist Distribution Group, the distribution arm of Specialist Computer Holdings PLC. Tech Data also plans to use any remaining money from the offering for general corporate purposes.

Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, J.P. Morgan and Citigroup are acting as joint book-running managers for the offering of the notes.

WUSF Public Media buys Health News Florida
WUSF Public Media purchased Health News Florida, an online, non-profit daily news service that covers health issues in the state. WUSF also hired Health News Florida's founder and editor Carol Gentry.

“Health News Florida will position us as a leader across the state when it comes to reporting on health care,” JoAnn Urofsky, WUSF general manager, says in a press release. “Carol Gentry's expertise will add significantly to our current newsroom capacity.”

Gentry founded Health News Florida in December 2006 to fill the gap in serious news coverage of state health issues, including health insurance, Medicare and Medicaid, and the cost and quality of health care.

Becoming a part of WUSF Public Media provides Health News Florida a number of benefits, Gentry says, including expertise in financial management, fundraising, information technology and much more. In addition, she said, the online news service now can expand into audio and video platforms.

Gentry has three decades of experience covering health finance and policy issues with an emphasis on consumer education and protection. She covered health and medicine for both the St. Petersburg Times (now known as the Tampa Bay Times) and the Tampa Tribune, as well as for the Wall Street Journal.

The Beck Group hires Reid, Encore, Creative Village owner rep
The Beck Group has named Randall Reid senior director. Reid will oversee the business development efforts for the Tampa Bay office and Florida region.

Reid comes to Beck with more than 30 years' experience in the real estate and construction industries. Most recently, Reid acted as owner's representative on two large mixed-use development projects for Bank of America's Community Development Corp., the Encore project in Tampa and Creative Village in Orlando.

“Randall's background as an owner's representative gives him unique perspective into the core needs of our clients,” Mark House, Beck's Tampa Bay managing director, says in a press release.

Dallas-based The Beck Group offers commercial real estate services including development, planning, architecture, interior design, construction and sustainability consulting.

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