Florida’s life sciences industry is on the map

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One measure of Florida’s struggle to stimulate the development of a life sciences industry is the money that went into the state’s Innovation Incentive Program.

Established a decade ago under former Gov. Jeb Bush as he recruited a branch of the Scripps Research Institute to Florida, the fund was set up specifically to attract research organizations and advanced-technology businesses considered likely to catalyze the growth of industry clusters.

The fund ultimately paid out more than $330 million to nine high-profile entities, eight of which fell under the broad umbrella of “life sciences.” Five of those eight have since struggled to meet projections. One, the Vaccine & Gene Therapy Institute in St. Lucie, has shut down; another, the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in Orlando, is looking to leave Florida and hand the keys to its Orlando facility to the University of Florida.