USF partnership - turning the region into the 'next Silicon Valley'

By Lauren Coffey - TBBJ & Inno Reporter
August 31, 2021

A Tampa startup is once again teaming up with the University of South Florida in an effort to boost research — and elevate the region overall.


"The whole thing with Silicon Valley started at Stanford," Edgility CEO Balaji Ramadoss said. "For us to develop that in Tampa, we have to first start with USF. We want to declare to the world it's not just creating a startup, but it's who’s making the next scientific investment, which is what we’re doing."


Edgility, which provides a health care system to improve gaps and delays in information flow, previously announced a partnership with the USF College of Nursing. The school and company launched the "Health Re-Imagined: The Digital Incubator” program, which provides training modules to teach nursing students and faculty how to incorporate technology into finding solutions for the industry's challenges.


Now, the company is doubling down on a commitment with the school's College of Engineering — a relationship that began with professor Wilfrido Moreno when Ramadoss himself attended the school.


"I always thought about how to take problems, remove the traditional business limitations, and create a solution," Ramadoss said. "We sat at a few breakfasts and said, 'What does this look like?'"


The partnership allows students to work on Edgility projects, giving them the real-world experience often lacking in academia, while giving Edgility access to new, young talent. There's also the upside, Ramadoss said, of providing students a safe space to fail.


"What is unique about Edgility's contribution is when you see the ideas, not everything will turn into a viable project for us," he said. "But it creates an ecosystem where it's okay to fail and go through multiple cycles. Without a forum like ours, that opportunity doesn’t exist."


Despite the upsides, it might seem to be a bit of an unusual partnership: Edgility is a not-yet 25-person startup, while USF is a giant in its own right with research and patent production. But Tim Murphy, senior director of development at USF's College of Engineering, believes it's less about the size of the company and more to expand offerings in any way it can.


"This touches on all three aspects of a perfect relationship," he said. "They're engaged in the academic side of it, they're engaged by being proactive and getting others involved and then with them giving us financial resources to make any of this work ... those are all the aspects of what we look for with any partnership."

Both Ramadoss and Murphy are hopeful this will help boost available high-quality talent for businesses, with Ramadoss expecting to continue building out the relationship — and with it, his company overall.


"The big ultimate goal is we want to Edgility Labs to be what the Bell Labs (a New York City research company) was in its glory days," he said. "Which is creating scientific research in the region and beyond."


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