Genshaft Calls for "USF Innovation Zone"

The Innovation Zone would include a “university city” encompassing the Tampa Bay region.


By Peter E. Howard Digital News Editor


Editor's Note: To watch a repeat of USF President Judy Genshaft's Fall Address on UStream, including a 30 minute hosted pre-show, click here for the link.

To view the "first responder" video about the College of Marine Science's reponse to the Gulf oil spill, click here for the link.


TAMPA, Fla. (Oct. 6, 2010) – University of South Florida President Judy Genshaft Wednesday called for the creation of a “USF Innovation Zone” during the next decade that will foster new ideas, place laser focus on the future and heighten community engagement in the Tampa Bay region.


“This innovation zone won’t be just one place,” Genshaft said in her Fall Address. “New technology, cutting edge technology, will remove geographic boundaries. It will bring tomorrow’s ideas to life today.”


Speaking from the Oval Theater in the Marshall Student Center, Genshaft said the “Innovation Zone” will include a “university city” concept in the Tampa Bay region “that gives a new dimension to community engagement.” Incubators will be established at the university’s campuses in St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland.


“Most importantly, it will lead the country, it will help people, it will focus on the future,” Genshaft said. “I invite you to think of ways to speed up these dreams as we create the next decade together. To use the metaphor from sustainability, you too can plug into innovation.”


More than 250 people attended the afternoon event. And for the first time, the president’s Fall Address was streamed live on the USF Facebook page. The Facebook broadcast was preceded by a 30-minute pre-show hosted by USF senior Amy Mariani, who asked attendees about their dreams and vision as the university heads toward 2020.


Genshaft also introduced Kala Vairavamoorthy, the new director of the School of Global Sustainability and an expert in urban water systems, and Les Miller, the new director of Heart Health at USF and an expert in new therapies for a failing heart. Both spoke briefly about their vision for the next decade.


The address took place during an especially active period for the university and in the midst of Homecoming Week celebrations. The university’s ResearchOne event kicks off next week, featuring a look into the ongoing science, research and innovation at the university.


And, since the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling platform exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in April, causing a massive oil spill, scientists and researchers at the College of Marine Science and other USF colleges have been at the forefront of tracking the spill and assessing its potential environmental damage. A documentary about the College of Marine Science and its response to the spill was shown to the audience. Watch the documentary by clicking here.


Genshaft spoke about USF during the past decade and how it has made great strides to improve its depth and energy and is firmly “relevant, engaged and involved.”


“Whether it’s the need for new models of education, or a crisis or a disease, we have been there,” she said. “As a result, this time period was astonishing for the entire University of South Florida System.”


The university, Genshaft recounted, has been “first responders” when our nation is in need, from robots that combed the wreckage of the World Trade Center towers on 9-11 to USF training frontline responders to biological attacks.


“These are powerful stories and a powerful record,” she said. “In the world of universities, you are the first responders.”


With the creation of new schools and centers, and a growing international presence, USF continues to lead and position itself well on the global landscape, Genshaft said.


“I’ve been saying that creating sustainable and healthy communities is the equivalent of the Space Race for the 21st Century. And, in every corner, I see the USF System stepping to the front line. And I applaud all of you.”


Peter E. Howard can be reached at 813-974-9057.