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Know Your Neighbor: Karl R. LaPan 

Know Your Neighbor: Karl R. LaPan 

By Deborah Holmén, M.Ed., NBCT 

Many remarkable individuals in Greater Gainesville are making a significant impact in the area. Karl R. LaPan, director of UF Innovate | Accelerate, is one such person who exemplifies the spirit of innovation, entrepreneurship, and community engagement. 


With his extensive business incubation and entrepreneurial support background, LaPan has played a pivotal role in transforming aspiring entrepreneurs into successful business leaders. 


Before taking on his current role, LaPan served as the president and CEO of the NIIP/NIIC in Fort Wayne, Indiana, for over two decades. Supporting thousands of entrepreneurs in launching their products, LaPan led the organization during his tenure, creating jobs and securing funding.

LaPan assumed the position of director at UF Innovate | Accelerate in 2021 and currently leads the award-winning, world-class program with two top-notch facilities, an 11.3 billion dollar client investment record and over 90 active client companies.  




  • Comprised of two best-in-class facilities, encompassing nearly 130,000 sq feet  
  • Has a resident client portfolio of over 90 active companies  
  • Produces an average client wage rate 34% higher than the state of Florida average  
  • Has assisted in securing nearly $11.3 billion in client invested capital  
  • Has provided support to over 250 client companies since its inception  


LaPan’s expertise and passion for entrepreneurship extend beyond his professional roles. He is an active advisory board member of the College of Business at his alma mater, Franklin Pierce University. Additionally, his dedication to education is evident through his commitment as an adjunct instructor in entrepreneurship at the university. By sharing his knowledge and experiences, LaPan inspires the next generation of business leaders to create their own paths to success. 


One of LaPan’s critical contributions to the entrepreneurial ecosystem has been his thought leadership and active involvement in various advisory boards. Through his valuable insights and recommendations, LaPan has helped shape the direction and growth of these institutions, further solidifying his status as a trusted expert in the field. 


Education has played a crucial role in LaPan’s journey. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Management, Summa Cum Laude from Franklin Pierce University and his Master of Science in Human Resource Development from American University. He has also completed executive education programs at Harvard University, Stanford University, University of Notre Dame, Babson College, and the Disney Institute.  This foundation in business principles has undoubtedly contributed to his success as a leader and entrepreneur. 


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LaPan’s commitment to lifelong learning can also be seen in his co-authorship of the publication “Best Practices in Action” by InBIA. His most recent book, “Entrepreneurial Hacks: Practical Insights for Business Builders,” published in 2021, provides valuable guidance and inspiration to budding entrepreneurs.

With his diverse range of experiences and accomplishments, Karl is an influential figure in innovation, entrepreneurship and community engagement. His optimistic outlook and passion for making a difference inspire those around him to dream big and create positive change. 


In his spare time, LaPan and his family enjoy the beaches, theme parks, food venues and incredible Florida sunshine. Karl is motivated by a strong desire to give back, helping others advance towards their dreams, and inspiring an entrepreneurial mindset in others. 


As a neighbor and community member, Greater Gainesville is fortunate to have LaPan leading the way in cultivating a culture of innovation, supporting the growth of local businesses and advancing UF Innovate| Accelerate’s commitment to entrepreneurial excellence. 


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