Our Leaders


 
Photo of Karl R. LaPan Karl R. LaPan Director, Accelerate

Karl leads both of UF Innovate’s award-winning incubators, Sid Martin Biotech in Alachua and The Hub, a mixed-use incubator, in Gainesville. Under his leadership, UF Innovate | Accelerate provides a place and a program, coaching, and connections to give emerging companies the best chance for ongoing success.

Before joining UF Innovate in late spring of 2021, Karl served as president and CEO of the NIIC, a non-profit entrepreneurial support organization in Fort Wayne, Indiana, since its inception in 2000. Like UF Innovate’s Incubation Services, the NIIC supports entrepreneurs as they plan, launch, and grow successful business ventures so companies can “move ideas into action.”

Under LaPan’s direction, entrepreneurs through the NIIC have launched 499 products, applied for 196 patents (most have been granted), created 2,351 jobs, and attracted more than $100 million in grants and capital. He also established a Women’s Entrepreneurial Opportunity Center to serve women business owners more effectively, built a portfolio of inclusive support grants to give underrepresented groups greater access to entrepreneurial services, and launched a Kiva Hub in collaboration with the City of Fort Wayne and two other organizations to crowdfund inclusive and diverse entrepreneurs in Northeast Indiana.

LaPan graduated with a master’s degree in human resources from American University after earning a bachelor’s degree in business management from Franklin Pierce University. He has a number of certifications related to entrepreneurship, mentoring, emotional intelligence, leadership and management, and financial management. He is a licensed real estate broker.

Photo of Jennifer Harrell Jennifer Harrell Assistant Director, The Hub

Jennifer manages the day-to-day operations of UF Innovate | Accelerate at The Hub in order to facilitate a supportive and encouraging environment for aspiring entrepreneurs to grow. She works with UF Accelerate leadership to meet occupancy and revenue goals; implement programs, new initiatives, and special projects; monitor client performance; meet social media metrics; and establish operational goals and objectives that align with the overall strategic plan. She oversees facilities, reception, financial and contractual functions, and event management for The Hub.

Jennifer is an experienced manager with a history of working in both the private and public sectors of sales, hospitality, real estate law, finance, and accounting. She has been with The Hub since 2016 and was part of the team when The Hub was awarded the 2018 International Business Innovation Association (InBIA) Global Mixed-Use Incubator of the Year award.

Jennifer obtained her accounting degree from Fisher School of Accounting at UF and is currently the Treasurer of the Florida Incubation Association. She holds an Incubation Management Certificate from the InBIA as well as both Fiscal and HR certificates from UF, and was a Leadership Gainesville Graduate (Go Green!).

Photo of Elliott Welker Elliott Welker Assistant Director, Sid Martin Bio

Elliott works on programs and progress for startup companies in UF Innovate | Accelerate at Sid Martin Biotech in Alachua.

Before joining UF Innovate, Elliott was a business development intern for ReliOx Corporation, a resident startup at Sid Martin Biotech; a legal assistant for Robert S. Griscti, Esq., assisting him in his practice of white-collar criminal law, criminal defense, federal and state litigation, professional licensing and appeals; and volunteered with the North Central Florida Chapter of the Federal Bar Association.

He earned his BA in history with a minor in teaching English as a second language (2013) and MBA focusing on entrepreneurship and marketing (2017) from UF. He was a Bob Graham Center for Public Service Student Fellow and Poe Center for Business Ethics Education and Research MBA Fellow.

 

Accelerate Staff

Photo of Lauren Asmus Lauren Asmus Client Experience Manager

As UF Innovate | Accelerate’s first Client Experience Manager, Lauren Asmus is proud to offer premier service to all The Hub and Sid Martin Biotech clients and affiliates.

When she isn’t problem-solving or finding ways to surprise and delight her 80+ startup portfolio, Lauren fine-tunes the incubators’ innovative programming and offerings. She also serves as the Innovation NaviGator, helping all entrepreneurs land where they belong by partnering with and promoting state and community support organizations. You might also catch her hosting WCJB TV20’s weekly Tech Tuesday episodes, featuring local startups, technologies, and events.

Lauren brings 10 years of experience in communications, community organizing, public outreach strategy, and program development. Her diverse portfolio includes work in the nonprofit, corporate, public affairs, and entrepreneurial space. She previously served as the Director of startGNV, a nonprofit dedicated to growing the innovation ecosystem of Greater Gainesville, and as the Communications Director for CareerSource North Central Florida, the region’s local workforce board.

Lauren earned her master’s degree in Communications and Media from Florida State University and an undergraduate degree from the University of West Florida. She is a structure-loving free spirit and uses her weird powers for organizing the world’s dreamers, artists, and innovators.

Lauren’s daily goal: bump our international award-winning reputation to the intergalactic next level of greatness.

Photo of Lissette Garces Lissette Garces Accountant

Lissette is The Hub’s accounting extraordinaire. She prepares monthly invoices for Hub clients and maintains the sub-ledger accounting system. Lissette processes Pcard transactions, expense reports, accounts payable, and monthly reconciliations reports. She assists the incubator manager with financial reports and monthly auditing as well as provides support for all internal and external Hub events.

Before joining The Hub in 2017, Lissette worked in many industries including a law firm in Miami and some of the best food and beverage establishments in Chicago. She has many years of experience in customer service, sales, marketing/social media, billing, and administration.

Lissette graduated from Florida International University in Miami with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She has completed her Fiscal Management Certificate at UF and is bilingual, speaking both English and Spanish.

Photo of Jennifer Harrell Jennifer Harrell Assistant Director, The Hub

Jennifer manages the day-to-day operations of UF Innovate | Accelerate at The Hub in order to facilitate a supportive and encouraging environment for aspiring entrepreneurs to grow. She works with UF Accelerate leadership to meet occupancy and revenue goals; implement programs, new initiatives, and special projects; monitor client performance; meet social media metrics; and establish operational goals and objectives that align with the overall strategic plan. She oversees facilities, reception, financial and contractual functions, and event management for The Hub.

Jennifer is an experienced manager with a history of working in both the private and public sectors of sales, hospitality, real estate law, finance, and accounting. She has been with The Hub since 2016 and was part of the team when The Hub was awarded the 2018 International Business Innovation Association (InBIA) Global Mixed-Use Incubator of the Year award.

Jennifer obtained her accounting degree from Fisher School of Accounting at UF and is currently the Treasurer of the Florida Incubation Association. She holds an Incubation Management Certificate from the InBIA as well as both Fiscal and HR certificates from UF, and was a Leadership Gainesville Graduate (Go Green!).

Photo of Courtney Janka Courtney Janka Facilities Manager

Courtney oversees the maintenance, housekeeping, and general upkeep of the almost 100,000 square-foot technology incubator, UF Innovate | Accelerate at The Hub. She manages the inventory of building assets, space allocation, as well as accounts payable approver. She also serves as the liaison between the resident clients at The Hub and UF departments such as Information Technology, Facilities Services, and Environmental Health and Safety. Courtney interfaces with clients on a daily basis to solve problems, manage space, and create growth opportunities. She also handles event management, including room layouts, catering management, and scheduling. She manages data input and data management for the contact management system for The Hub.

Before joining UF Innovate in 2017, Courtney was the Facilities and Administration Manager at Naylor Association Solutions located in Gainesville. She was responsible for a 60,000 square foot commercial building, served as executive assistant to the CEO, as well as coordinated events. Prior to relocating to Gainesville, Courtney worked for 13 years in the print media industry in a variety of roles including media buying, sales, and production.

Courtney earned her B.S in advertising from the University of Florida.

Photo of Karl R. LaPan Karl R. LaPan Director, Accelerate

Karl leads both of UF Innovate’s award-winning incubators, Sid Martin Biotech in Alachua and The Hub, a mixed-use incubator, in Gainesville. Under his leadership, UF Innovate | Accelerate provides a place and a program, coaching, and connections to give emerging companies the best chance for ongoing success.

Before joining UF Innovate in late spring of 2021, Karl served as president and CEO of the NIIC, a non-profit entrepreneurial support organization in Fort Wayne, Indiana, since its inception in 2000. Like UF Innovate’s Incubation Services, the NIIC supports entrepreneurs as they plan, launch, and grow successful business ventures so companies can “move ideas into action.”

Under LaPan’s direction, entrepreneurs through the NIIC have launched 499 products, applied for 196 patents (most have been granted), created 2,351 jobs, and attracted more than $100 million in grants and capital. He also established a Women’s Entrepreneurial Opportunity Center to serve women business owners more effectively, built a portfolio of inclusive support grants to give underrepresented groups greater access to entrepreneurial services, and launched a Kiva Hub in collaboration with the City of Fort Wayne and two other organizations to crowdfund inclusive and diverse entrepreneurs in Northeast Indiana.

LaPan graduated with a master’s degree in human resources from American University after earning a bachelor’s degree in business management from Franklin Pierce University. He has a number of certifications related to entrepreneurship, mentoring, emotional intelligence, leadership and management, and financial management. He is a licensed real estate broker.

Photo of Allen Morgan Allen Morgan Maintenance Specialist II

Allen provides maintenance services for both UF Innovate | Accelerate facilities, The Hub and Sid Martin Biotech. He maintains and repairs each building in order to support our innovation ecosystem. Allen obtains proposals from private vendors and coordinates with UF Facilities Services, PD&C, contractors, and program clients on a wide range of building projects. He prepares offices and labs for new startups, manages bio-hazard waste activities, performs water and autoclave testing, and resolves various building issues.

Before joining UF Innovate | Accelerate, Allen worked at the UF Warrington College of Business. He has also been a business owner and was the facilities maintenance engineer for Le Triomphe Golf Club, a private golf club that hosts the PGA Tour’s Louisiana Open each year.

Photo of Brittany Mosher Brittany Mosher Administrative Support Assistant

Brittany provides general administrative functions for UF Innovate | Accelerate at Sid Martin Biotech, including handling reception, scheduling meetings, coordinating calendars, preparing correspondence, and providing routine office support.

Before joining the team at Sid Martin, Brittany worked in customer service and multiple medical environments.

Brittany has earned two A.S. degrees from Santa Fe College, one in health information technology and the other in cardiovascular technology.

Photo of Kat Scott Kat Scott Administrative Assistant

Kat Scott is a full-time Administrative Assistant for UF Innovate | Accelerate at The Hub. Her primary duties include greeting clients (current and prospective), scheduling conference room bookings, and assisting with the particulars of community management within the incubator. She also provides fresh coffee and refreshments for residents to enjoy throughout the day while they are hard at work developing their technologies.

Before accepting her position as Administrative Assistant in 2021, she worked providing customer service and hospitality in the food industry. Kat studies various disciplines within the realm of visual arts and storytelling and can be often seen jotting down notes and sketches of her own.

Photo of Alexandria Warwick Alexandria Warwick Administrative Support Assistant

Alexandria provides administrative support for the UF Innovate | Accelerate director, The Hub assistant director, and the reception desk. Daily tasks include scheduling meetings and events, coordinating calendars, and financial backup, creative projects, and collating research, among other things. Before accepting her position at UF Innovate, Alexandria spent six years working at the University of Florida Libraries.

Alexandria studied violin performance and wildlife ecology at the University of Florida. She is an orchestral violinist with over 25 years in the field and maintains a full performance schedule throughout the year.

Photo of Elliott Welker Elliott Welker Assistant Director, Sid Martin Bio

Elliott works on programs and progress for startup companies in UF Innovate | Accelerate at Sid Martin Biotech in Alachua.

Before joining UF Innovate, Elliott was a business development intern for ReliOx Corporation, a resident startup at Sid Martin Biotech; a legal assistant for Robert S. Griscti, Esq., assisting him in his practice of white-collar criminal law, criminal defense, federal and state litigation, professional licensing and appeals; and volunteered with the North Central Florida Chapter of the Federal Bar Association.

He earned his BA in history with a minor in teaching English as a second language (2013) and MBA focusing on entrepreneurship and marketing (2017) from UF. He was a Bob Graham Center for Public Service Student Fellow and Poe Center for Business Ethics Education and Research MBA Fellow.

Photo of Chris Wiley Chris Wiley Technical Services Manager

Chris is the UF Innovate | Accelerate at Sid Martin Biotech technical services manager. He provides facilities management, laboratory equipment supervision and training, and coordination of laboratory management.

He is a Marine Corps Veteran and holds a bachelor’s of science degree in chemistry from UF. He is a trained analytical chemist and also operates as an independent consultant for analytical testing, drug development projects, and regulatory strategy. In the past, he has worked as a contract researcher and a math/chemistry tutor.

Chris has attended several professional continued education short courses on subjects such as scientific instrument qualification/calibration/maintenance, gas chromatography (GC) and liquid chromatography (HPLC and Prep-LC), quality assurance (QA) and internal auditing procedures, mass spectrometry and cell culture.

Outside of his career, he is a proud husband and father as well as an active performer in the UF Classical Guitar Ensemble. He also repairs/modifies/upgrades electric guitars and related musical equipment, and enjoys camping and hiking.

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