Florida Economy – Are You Aware of the Florida High Tech Corridor?

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When you say “Central Florida” to many people – even people that live in Florida – they think of theme parks, beaches, and Kennedy Space Center. They might even think of the University of Central Florida (UCF). What they are not thinking of is the fact that this area is a high tech hub in the US.

When you say “research and technology” most people think Silicon Valley, Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, or Dallas. You need to add Orlando and Central Florida to that list.

The area that spans Florida – from just north of Daytona Beach to the area around Sarasota, with Orlando in the middle – is coined the Florida High Tech Corridor (FHTC). This covers 23 counties, within the Central Florida region. It has been in place since 1996.

TECHNOLOGY INCUBATORS

Believe it or not, one of the main economic engines of this area is technology incubators. According to several recent government studies, business incubators are one of the most cost effective investments the government can make in the way of job creation. As proof of this fact, UCF’s business incubation program is responsible for more than 1,600 jobs in the area. The study, in 2009, showed this resulted in a financial benefit to the area in the way of $191,306,000. This also showed that for every $1.00 spent by the local government, the UCF program generated $5.25 in property and sales taxes for the local municipalities. In 2004, UCF’s program was named Technology Incubator of the Year.

UCF is not the only school in the region with a technology incubation program. Both the University of South Florida (in Tampa) and the University of Florida (in Gainesville) also boast notable statistics in relation to their programs. UF’s program has 26 current and graduating companies and USF has 25. The UF program has attracted $300 million in investments and about $150 million in contracts and grants.

To learn more, check out the Virtual Entrepreneur Center  – www.flvec.com. This site receives about 4,000 hits per month.

UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA

This is the nation’s second largest university. It houses 12 colleges, including a College of Medicine, which opened in 2009. There is also a school of Biomedical Sciences. This college is tied to new facilities that are part of a medical city in South Orlando.

There are about 95,000 UCF graduates living and working within the region.

Adjacent to UCF is the Central Florida Research Park. This area employs 10,000 people and they work with UCF researchers and professors on projects related to science, engineering, photonics and optics, modeling and simulation, and medical technology.

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA

During the 2000-2008, USF was ranked as the nation’s fastest growing university for federal funds for Academic Research and Development. For the years of 2008-2009, they received $380 million in research and grants. The scientists and researchers at USF receive 30-40 patents each year for new inventions. The USF Academy of Inventors are notable for innovations in a range of technologies spanning nanotechnology applications to medical devices to bioengineered cells to clean energy technology. Revenue generated from licensing this intellectual property exceeds $2 million.

The economical impact is $3.2 billion to the Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, and Lakeland area.

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

UF is one of the largest research universities in the country. The 2009-2010 school year saw 50,000 students. The university has 16 colleges and over 150 research centers and institutes. In 2008-2009, UF received $574 million in research grants. This research spanned health care, agriculture, energy, natural resources, as well as other areas. The University of Florida contributes about $6 billion annually to the Florida economy. It is also responsible for over 75,000 jobs.

In 2010, UF helped inaugurate the largest telescope in the Canary Islands. As part owner of this telescope, UF is the only US institution participating in the project.

Plans are in place for UF to participate in the medical city in South Orlando. This facility will house a comprehensive drug development center and a biomedical research facility.

THREE KEY PROJECTS

The FHTC houses three impressive projects. Research to enhance the efficiency of LED-based lighting devices, inverters for distributing solar energy to the power grid, and to produce semi-transparent “power foil” that collects solar energy.

These projects are run by Sinmat, Petra Solar, and New Energy Solar Corporation (respectively). These three grants pushed the Matching Grants Research Program over the 1,000 grant mark. This grant program was the brain-child of UCF President, John Hitt. By working with the neighboring universities, he came up with a program to grow the local high tech businesses so they could succeed, create new opportunities for university researches and involve students in ground-breaking research that eventually can lead to fairly lucrative careers.

SECTOR STATISTICS

There are many industry sectors that make up the FHTC. Here is a sampling of the sectors. This data is from 2010, so it is probably higher today.

  • Aviation & Aerospace – 121 companies with 16,000 employees. There is an average of 132 employees per company with an average salary of $75,000.
  • Financial Services – 11,636 companies with 103,433 employees. There is an average of 9 employees per company with an average salary of $59,980 per employee.
  • Information Technology – 4,794 companies with 42,506 employees There is an average of 9 employees per company with an average salary of $72,600.
  • Medical Technologies – There are 255 companies with 10,928 employees. There is an average of 43 employees per company with an average salary of $50,780.
  • Microelectronics – There are 244 companies with 29,777 employees. There is an average of 122 employees with an average salary of $82,700.
  • Optics & Photonics – There are 95 companies with 2,938 employees. There is an average of 31 employees per company and and average salary of $57,000.
  • Media/Telcom/Research & Enineering – There are 4,153 companies with 61,850 employees. There is an average of 15 employees per company and an average salary of $64,300.

BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW WE HAD THESE COMPANIES

  • Prioria Robotics – Un-manned Aerial System (UAS). Notably, the Maveric.
  • FINTECH – Electronic funds transfers (EFT), invoice settlement, and eCommerce solutions to buyers and seller of regulated goods and services in the convenience store, grocery, drug, and restaurant/hospitality industry
  • Baxa Corp – Solution-based technologies for medication handling and delivery.
  • Virtual Reality Medical Center (VRMC) – Treating and rehabilitating medical disorders such as traumatic brain injury. They also train military medics in a simulated battlefield environment using life-like wound prosthetics.
  • Voalte – Customizable application that improves communications among clinicians to improve patient care. This application enables critical alarms and notifications, text messaging, and voice override communication all together on the iPhone.
  • Coalter Digital Animation Studio – Produce 3-D, digital animations and renderings for engineering firms, architects, and advertising agencies.
  • METI (Medical Education Technologies, Inc.) – Learning technologies based on human patient simulators that provide true-to-life health care learning opportunities.
  • Accentia Biopharmaceuticals – commercializes health care technologies for treatment of a broad range of chronic, debilitating, and life-threatening diseases.
  • VaxDesign – Biotechnology company that develops a surrogate human immune system for multi-dimensional analysis of blood that makes predictions on how certain populations would respond to a particular drug or vaccine.
  • Optima Neuroscience – Develop advanced technology that analyzes the complex electrical signals of the brain to accurately detect and predict critical changes. This alerts staff and care providers so they can intervene as soon as possible.
  • Dais Analytic – Designs and manufactures new products in ventilation and air quality, water clean-up, energy storage, and high performance fabrics using patented nanotechnology-polymer processes.
  • Solicare – World leader of embedded power solutions. They offer a portfolio of advanced, ultra-thin flexible lithium polymer batteries for power cords, RFID devices, and micro medical devices.
  • Advanced Magnet Lab (AML) – technology for the design and manufacture of advanced coils, magnets, and magnet systems. These are used for a variety of applications, including renewable energy and the medical field.
  • Ocean Optics – World leader in solutions for optical sensing, enabling diverse applications in medical and biological research, environment monitoring, life sciences, science education, and entertainment lighting and displays.
  • AMPAC (Advanced Materials Processing and Analysis Center) – Materials research and education. They provide facility, faculty, and student support to UCF, as well as industry, university, and government organizations.
  • .decimal Inc. – Medical device manufacturer that produces custom-made, patient-specific radiation therapy devices for cancer patients around the country, and oversees in Japan.

This is just a small sampling of the diversity of the industries in the area.

As you can see, there are a lot of unique and interesting companies with opportunities in the Central Florida region. If you are looking to take advantage of an area that most people just view as a tourist location, you need to do a little more research on the Florida High Tech Corridor.

For more information, here is the web site for the FHTC Council.

 

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