President and CEO, Research Park at FAU
Background: As a European Studies graduate, with a special focus on political science, from Scotland’s University of Aberdeen, the last place Duffell thought he would wind up was a university research park in Boca Raton. His post-graduate work began with North of England Inward Investment Agency, where he helped U.S. companies expand their footprints in the European market. He brought this experience to his next position, at the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County, where he helped bring the Max Planck Florida Institute to Jupiter. Since January 2011, he’s focused his ambitious lasers on making Research Park the top research-and-development institution in the state.
How he is making a difference: Duffell has revamped the awareness of the Research Park, a segmented area of FAU just off the main campus. “There were a good number of companies that were engaged in very sophisticated technology development, but I think that there had been a drift in their outreach to the university, and the university’s outreach to them,” Duffell recalls. “Everyone had gotten involved in their own world and forgotten what a research park really should be. That’s something I’ve worked on over the last two years, trying to reinvigorate those relationships and build new ones.” As a result, the 20-some tenants working to shape the future in the Research Park have increased their regional profiles; press coverage has expanded, and the Park is now a more attractive destination for companies in fields as diverse as aerospace and defense, software development, health care IT and consumer behavior analysis.
What the future holds: Research Park is the technological frontier of FAU’s signature themes of biotechnology, coastal and marine research, and contemporary societal challenges. The possibilities for future innovation are endless, from Lockheed Martin robots refashioned for use in port security to revolutionary advances in health care practices. “The amount of data that our companies have is mind-blowing, and the implications that [this] data could have for business applications is vast,” Duffell says.