This is the first installment of our series with the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce for Women’s History Month. Each week we will highlight a women in our community that is involved with this year’s History Month Theme: Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
Today’s guest post is from Nathalie McCrate of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce – thank you Nathalie for this wonderful piece.
Jane Muir, Florida Innovation Hub Director
Entrepreneurial spirit seems to run in the Muir family. Jane Muir is the director of the Florida Innovation Hub – a business incubator that helps budding technology companies get off the ground by providing reduced rate office space, laboratories, conference rooms and mentorship resources. In October, 2012, the Florida Innovation Hub announced that it had created 85 new jobs and $72 million in private investment in just its first 10 months of existence.
“I think entrepreneurship and innovation has always played a pretty heavy role in our family,” she said.
Her husband invented the technology that was the basis for biotech company AxoGen. Her two sons have both worked for Hub startup companies.
Unlike most professionals who work in the technology transfer industry, Muir does not have a technical background. She contends that her unique perspective is her true value to the Hub – it helps bridge the gap between scientific speak and business talk. Muir says, “I have a marketing and sales background, so when people talk technology I ask a lot of questions and make them explain it in a way that I can understand it. If I can understand it, then the rest of the world can understand it”.
Muir graduated Cum Laude from Southwest Minnesota State University with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and business administration & management. She has more than 30 years of professional experience in marketing, management and leadership for international corporations and academic technology transfer institutions.
Some professional highlights include: consulting for NASA technology transfer center, teaching sales technique courses with Dale Carnegie & Associates Inc. and helping author the $8.2 million dollar construction grant for the Innovation Hub – a 48,000 sq. ft incubator facility.
Her community leadership involvement is just as extensive. Muir has served as president of the Gainesville Area Innovation Network (GAIN) and as vice chair of the Gainesville Technology Enterprise Corporation (GTEC) advisory board. She won the 2012 UF Superior Accomplishment Award for her outstanding contributions to the university’s students and employees.
Through her work with Empowering Women and Encouraging Technology Startups (eWiTS), Muir has encouraged women to pursue leadership roles in STEM professions. The program, which launched at the Hub last fall, breaks down gender barriers by providing confidence-boosting entrepreneurial training, networking opportunities and one-on-one mentorship to female professionals. Programs like eWiTS exemplify Innovation Gainesville’s (iG) mission of nurturing Gainesville innovators and inspiring community leaders to support a thriving a technology community.