Small Technology, Big Dollars


Bio-medical engineering has been described by some as the new frontier of medical science. Microscopic machines built onto tiny silicon chips are inserted into a body to do things as radical as targeting individual cancer cells.

The idea is to take biological devices and making them very small. The deal would bring researchers from the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory Inc. to USF's Tampa campus. The non-profit company started out as a research arm of MIT.

What's not so small is the cost of attracting the company. Hillsborough Commissioners unanimously approved spending $6 million from the county's capital reserve account as an incentive.

USF's Research Foundation would chip in $4 million, pending approval at a future university board meeting. Next up is a vote expected Tuesday by the Pinellas County commission. That board in April gave preliminary approval to commit $2 million to the company. Draper wants to build a $14 million electronics plant in St. Petersburg, where it would team up with an existing defense contractor to make microscopic circuit boards.

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