Why startups are moving into Research Park at FAU

It’s gotten a little more crowded at Research Park at Florida Atlantic University.

More than twice as many people work on the park’s Boca Raton and Deerfield Beach campuses now compared to three years ago, said President and CEO Andrew Duffell.

Research Park is independent from FAU, but helps link its educational and research efforts with the private sector. It hosts 20 high-tech companies who employ more than 1,700 people as of December, up from 750 people in 2011, Duffell said.

“They range industry and revenue as well [as size],” he said. “It’s a big, diverse population.”

This week, 10-person LED lighting manufacturer Green Lumens moved to Research Park from its previous headquarters at Plumtree Centre in Boca Raton.

“The Park’s high-tech focus puts us right in the middle of a hotbed of talented companies and resources not available anywhere else in the area,” Green Lumens founder and chairman Neil Glachman said.

Nineteen of those 20 companies are in Boca Raton, with People’s Trust Insurance Company on the Deerfield Beach campus.

The firms range from a three-person startup to the rapidly growing electronic medical records firm Modernizing Medicine, which has more than 250 employees.

Other occupants include MobileHelp, an emergency response tech firm that is one of the 200 fastest-growing companies in the country, according to the Inc. 5000.

“We’ve got a company that does compliance testing for electronics equipment,” Duffell said. “We’ve got an aerospace company. We’ve got a pretty good concentration of healthcare IT, a lot of healthcare imaging and a publishing company.”

Companies tend to move to the park to be near talented FAU students, he said. For instance, Green Lumens is establishing a formal internship program designed to help the firm hire FAU students.

“One of the top reasons is always proximity and access to students — getting to know them, hiring them as interns, getting the cream of the crop before they even graduate,” Duffell said.

Research Park also encourages companies to work with FAU faculty researchers.

“The most important thing is an ability and a willingness to develop a very substantial relationship with the university,” he said. “They need to have that desire to continuously innovate and develop new products, not only with students but also for the faculty.”

Duffell hopes the park will continue to grow as its 15-year-old Technology Business Incubator creates a pipeline of growing startups who need more space.

Research Park is about 90 percent occupied, Duffell said. But there’s space available for lease and land to build on, both in Boca Raton and Deerfield Beach — so the park certainly isn’t done adding companies.

“We’re always looking for new ones,” he said.