Dr. Thomas O'Neal
Small Start Up Businesses are Leading the Nation’s Economic Recovery
"America’s greatness lies in our ability to adapt to new conditions with innovation and enthusiasm. That spirit of innovation, enthusiasm combined with perseverance and an entrepreneurial culture is what made America so prosperous for so long. It continues to be played out daily in small, young startup companies all across the country."
Dr. Tom O'Neal
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Florida Busines Incubation Association
N ationally recognized as an "entrepreneur in the business of helping entrepreneurs," Dr. Tom O'Neal is dedicated to creating and supporting successful and sustainable innovation ecosystems in Florida. Tom's efforts focus on building strong research programs at UCF and the transfer and commercialization of research results into the marketplace. This work helps to build an innovation based economy for Central Florida.
I’ve been long impressed with...the growing felicity of mankind, from the improvements in philosophy, morals, politics and even the conveniences of common living; by the invention and acquisition of new and useful instruments, and that I have sometimes almost wish it had been my destiny to be born two or three centuries hence. For invention and improvement are prolific, and beget more of the kind.
The answer is innovation applying science in unique ways that solves the problems we have in this world.
Chairman & CEO Dupont
Currently, Tom is the Associate Vice President of Research & Commercialization at the University of Central Florida (UCF). He also serves as the Executive Director of the UCF Business Incubation Program (UCFBIP) and the Florida Economic Gardening Institute (FEGI). Some of his areas of responsibility include the sponsored programs office, technology transfer, compliance, the venture lab, the UCF Business Incubation Program and the Florida's Economic Gardening Institute. Tom has been part of UCF's Office of Research & Commercialization team working to help UCF become a leading metropolitan research university since 2000. He also serves as a core member of the Florida High Tech Corridor Council.
Tom has assisted in the formation of numerous companies and the commercialization of technologies developed at UCF. In 1999, Tom established the UCF Technology Incubator of which he serves as the Founding Director. Under Tom's leadership, The UCF Business Incubation Program (UCFBIP) has expanded to 10 locations. The UCF Business Incubator earned "Incubator of the Year" by the National Business Incubator Association (NBIA) where he currently serves as a board member and has "helped more than 170 emerging companies that create more than $500 million in annual revenue and accounted for more than 1,650 new jobs in the local area in 2009, with an average salary of $59,000." firstMONDAY magazine. (December 3, 2010).
Tom joined the UCF staff as the Associate Director for the Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers (CREOL) in 1991. In this capacity, he was responsible for the business and administrative functions of the Center. The Center has become one of the nation's top centers for education and research in optical sciences and engineering.
Since 1975, he has been an active member of the business community in Florida. He founded his first start-up company at age 18, which he successfully operated until pursuing a full-time college career. Tom then entered the high-tech business arena as a project engineer for a computer manufacturing company. Prior to joining UCF, he served as a Technology Specialist and Financial Director for a $40 million project with the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency for Florida's state university system.
Tom's research interests include the subjects of business incubation, entrepreneurship, and economic development; his dissertation was on effective incubation practices. He has secured funding from the Kauffman Foundation, the NSF, the NCIIA, the DOE, and many state and government agencies and others to support entrepreneurship and innovation initiatives. He is the current president of the Florida Business Incubation Association (FBIA) and serves on the board of the National Business Incubator Association. The latest initiative under his direction is serving as the Director of Florida's Economic Gardening Institute, a program designed to assist second stage growth companies.
Tom earned a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering, a Master of Science in Engineering Management and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Central Florida. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of South Florida.