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UF Would Need Some State Money To Take Over Sanford-Burnham

UCF is moving into Sanford Burnham's Medical City location.
UCF is moving into Sanford Burnham's Medical City location.

The University of Florida hopes to have a deal outlined in the coming weeks to negotiate the takeover of Sanford Burnham Prebys Institute in Orlando.

UF President Kent Fuchs told the school's board of trustees that they will come back to the board when they have a term sheet on the deal. He said the school has worked hard to answer the governor's questions about the return on investment for state money and the new business model.

“We remain very optimistic we’ll be given the opportunity to negotiate with all the stakeholders going forward," Fuchs said. "But I believe in the next week or two that decision will be made.”

The University of Florida's business model calls for no state money for the first two years, but after that UF would need $3.7 million dollars per year in state money to take over Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in Orlando.

UF Vice President of Research David Norton said the money will be used for operations and maintenance of the 300,000-square-foot research center in Medical City.

“If the state says no, we have an issue," Norton said. "Because our current business plan projects that we’re going to have to provide $4.5 million in non-state recurring (dollars) in order to make this run. We know we can do that. That’s how we do things. But if we add another $3.7 million, it doesn’t work.”

UF is currently working with the governor’s office and local governments to take over for Sanford Burnham, which has seen cuts in federal research funding. Norton said they will also need $30 million dollars in leftover tax incentive money from the original Sanford Burnham deal.

Norton acknowledged that the workers at the institute are reading about their future in newspapers, which could easily lead the best to be recruited away. He said the school plans to work with local partners and keep a majority of the staff.

“UF’s plan is to recruit and retain the majority of the faculty and the staff currently there at the Sanford Burnham Prebys facility," Norton said. "What we need to do that is the residual funds that were provided to Sanford Burnham Prebys.”

Former Governor Jeb Bush put together a $360 million tax incentive package to get Sanford Burnham to locate in Orlando.