By Nikki Cabus

FAU’s Research Park celebrates recipients of the Annual Awards & Celebration of Entrepreneurship

Read Time 6 Minutes

On October 18th at the Boca West Country Club, the Research Park at Florida Atlantic University® celebrated the recipients of its Annual Awards & Celebration of Entrepreneurship.

Since its thirtieth anniversary in 2015, the Research Park at FAU has been celebrating distinguished contributors to its mission of promoting scientific research and development in affiliation with Florida Atlantic University and fostering economic development in Palm Beach and Broward counties. Each year, impactful contributions and greater potential for the future can be seen: South Florida has a vibrant, diverse economy ahead, driven by the work of all these distinguished recipients, partner organizations in the Research Park, and others.

The Research Park at Florida Atlantic University® is home to technology companies and research-based organizations working to support the research and development activities of Florida Atlantic University and to foster economic development and broaden the economic base of Broward and Palm Beach counties. The Research Park at FAU hosts Global Ventures, an international soft-landing center for second-stage technology companies and FAU Tech Runway, a South Florida public-private partnership that serves as a hub to accelerate technology development and incubate startup companies.

The Research Park at FAU is a 70-acre destination for R&D companies to thrive, established in 1985, it is widely regarded as South Florida’s laboratory for new entrepreneurial ideas and technologies. The Research Park at FAU is governed by the Florida Atlantic Research and Development Authority, an independent special district created by Palm Beach and Broward counties in partnership with Florida Atlantic University.

This year’s awards are made as the South Florida region experiences record-setting growth, facing new challenges, and benefiting from stronger regional institutions. Florida Atlantic University has emerged as a regional healthcare leader, addressing the need for better, more accessible healthcare. Technologies developed at the Research Park at FAU help provide more predictable, positive outcomes and they are made as more people recognize the virtue and strength of diversity in our society and economy.

Each year, friends and stakeholders – business, government and academic leaders – of the Research Park at FAU gather to celebrate the achievements of the entrepreneurs and innovators who make the Park community stronger. Approximately 200 leaders from the business, academic and governmental fields strengthen relationships and share ideas for the future.

This year’s honorees are:

Bob Swindell | Chair’s Distinguished Service Award

Mr. Swindell was appointed to the Florida Atlantic Research and Development Authority, which governs the Research Park at FAU, in 2005 by the Broward County Commission; he went on to serve with distinction for eighteen years, including twice as chairman. Swindell was appointed president & CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance in 2009 where he has led the strengthening of Broward County’s economy and become a universally respected servant leader and authority across industries and sectors.

A lifelong Broward resident, Swindell has served in several business and community leadership roles, including leading the American Red Cross during and after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Since that time, he has been appointed to statewide roles by governors Martinez, Chiles, Bush and Scott. Bob’s knowledge and guidance have been indispensable to the development of the Research Park at FAU.


Michael Allison | Distinguished Leader

Mr. Allison distinguished himself as a leader in every role he took on. From leading student government at Ohio State University where he earned his law degree, to coaching young football and baseball players, to leading at both Office Depot as Executive Vice President of Human Resources, and at Burlington as Executive Vice President & Chief Administrative Officer, to leading the Florida Atlantic Research and Development Authority. Allison’s leadership style was to empower those around him to achieve their full potential, having done so with his own life.

Allison joined the Authority in retirement, as a commitment to his community. Later, when he came out of retirement and consulting at Allison Consulting, which he created in 2018, to join Burlington, he maintained his commitment and he led the development of the Research Park at FAU’s current strategic plan through extensive collaboration during his unprecedented three years as chairman of the Authority. He helped so many see, pursue, and achieve their own potential, including himself. Sadly, Michael untimely passed away on August 11, 2023, and this award is made in memoriam.


Robert Colton, M.D. | Distinguished Entrepreneur 

Dr. Colton is the co-founder and Chairman of Thema Brain Health (Thema), a Research Park at FAU-based company. Thema is revolutionizing how the world approaches cognitive brain health. Over the last five decades, tremendous progress has been made in the prevention and treatment of all major diseases of aging except for Alzheimer’s Disease. While aging is inevitable, Thema Brain Health is on a mission to ensure that cognitive decline is not.

Before founding Thema, Colton was the co-founder and chairman of ClearlyDerm, a multi-location easy access dermatology company. ClearlyDerm currently has five locations in South Florida with twelve dermatologists, nine nurse practitioners and physician assistants and 100 employees. Prior to founding ClearlyDerm, Colton conceptualized and co-founded MDVIP, the largest concierge medicine company in the United States; he sold MDVIP to Procter and Gamble in 2009. Today MDVIP’s more than 1,100 affiliated physicians serve more than 385,000 patients nationwide. Colton’s contribution to South Florida’s innovation and knowledge economy has already been distinguised, and his entrepreneurial energies continue with Thema.


Siri Terjesen, M.D. | Distinguished Researcher

Dr. Terjesen is Associate Dean, Research & External Relations, founding Executive Director of the Madden Center for Value Creation, and Phil Smith Professor of Entrepreneurship at Florida Atlantic’s College of Business. She is a nationally recognized expert in higher education, strategic management, entrepreneurship, and philanthropy. She was nominated by the president of the United States to serve as one of 15 voting directors to the National Board for Education Sciences (NBES) which advises the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute for Education Sciences. Terjesen serves as a reviewer for the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 project and the Swedish and Norwegian governments’ higher education agencies, and as advisor to the World Bank, Kauffman Foundation, and a variety of think tanks.

Terjesen’s research on entrepreneurship, corporate governance, and strategy includes over 80 articles, 2 books, many white papers, and manuscripts (Kauffman Foundation, World Bank, and U.S. Small Business Administration, for example). She is amongst the world’s top 2% most cited scholars (Clarviate) and has over 13,000 citations in Google Scholar. Terjesen’s distinguished work has inspired several Research Park and Global Ventures companies to get further involved with Florida Atlantic’s work and her research has helped innovate companies’ strategies.

Read more about Dr. Terjesen here.


Canada-Florida Chamber of Commerce | Distinguished Organization 

The Canada-Florida Chamber has partnered with the Research Park at FAU since before the creation of Global Ventures, the second-stage entrepreneur support initiative to attract and grow innovative technologies in South Florida. Through its innovative programming, relationships, engaged membership and trade missions, the Canada-Florida Chamber has contributed to the growth and success of Global Ventures. Several entrepreneurs have learned about Global Ventures through the chamber’s events and programming, resulting in two Canadian companies expanding their offerings with Global Ventures, and a robust pipeline of prospects.


The Awards & Celebration of Entrepreneurship is made possible by the investments of Palm Beach County and the City of Boca Raton in the Research Park at FAU’s programs and by the support of Gold Partner Florida Power & Light and 35 Mules and Silver Partner Kaufman Rossin. Innovation Partners include: 2TON, Baptist Health, Banyan Development, Boca Raton Airport, CBIZ, CohnResznick, Comcast, FAU College of Engineering & Computer Science, FAU Executive Education, HGreg, Invest: Palm Beach, Lorium Law, PEBB Enterprises, People’s Trust Insurance Company, Neptunya Ocean Power, Seascoast Bank and the BV Group at UBS.

To learn more about the FAU Research Park, visit