During his 2010 campaign, Rick Scott said he wanted universities to partner with private industry "to pursue advanced applications, production and research in sustainable energy endeavor." As part of that promise, he said he wanted to pursue additional programs such as the Florida High Tech Corridor Council throughout the state.
We found that the state has sent some money to university-private partnerships under Scott's watch. But he hasn't done anything significant to create new programs like the the corridor council.
The corridor council, launched in the 1990s, is an economic development initiative of the University of Central Florida, the University of South Florida and the University of Florida to grow high-tech industry and innovation through research, workforce and marketing partnerships.
A similar effort effort is underway in South Florida called Life Sciences South Florida, which aims to recruit workers for life sciences and IT and improve workforce development. In March as part of that collaboration, FIU hosted a BioFlorida Latin America & Caribbean Life Sciences Conference, which brought together industry professionals and universities. But we couldn't find evidence that Scott should get any credit for Life Sciences South Florida, because it launched while he was campaigning in 2010 and has not sought any state money.
A spokesman for Scott pointed to a few line items in the state budget in 2014 that gave money to universities for various projects that included partners in the fields of science and technology.
One in particular included renewable energy research, so we will focus on that project. (The other ones cited by a Scott spokesman were money given for projects such as a Heart Health Institute at the University of South Florida and Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute.)
In 2009, Florida Gulf Coast University announced a $1 million gift from John D. Backe, president of the Backe Foundation Inc., to establish a fund to attract a nationally renowned scholar dedicated to the study of renewable energy. The university and Backe also announced they would collaborate to develop a 1.2 million square-foot Emergent Technologies Institute for studying renewable energy, solar energy, alternative energy sources, biotechnology, green technology and other programs.
The state gave $11.7 million between 2012 and 2014 for the facility. The university plans to complete construction in 2015.
The institute "will offer students STEM degrees and research opportunities leading to employment in existing and emerging technology fields – while supporting the diversification of Southwest Florida's and Florida's economy," said Susan Evans, university vice president and chief of staff.
Scott said he wanted universities to partner with private industry "to pursue advanced applications, production and research in sustainable energy endeavor." Florida Gulf Coast University, which has received considerable state funding, is a good example of that partnership. We haven't seen much movement on the second part of his promise to pursue programs such as the Florida High Tech Corridor Council throughout the state.
We rate this promise Compromise.