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High Tech Business Booming in the Bradenton Area

Region Poised for Growth in Information Technology Sector

Situated along the Gulf Coast of Florida just south of Tampa Bay, the Bradenton Area is a small-city community that is quickly becoming a desirable location for high tech companies.

Experiencing growth in industries such as advanced manufacturing, information technology and life sciences, the Bradenton Area has attracted a number of small businesses and corporations in the high tech sector, thanks to the work of the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corporation, which was recently recognized as one of Florida’s top economic development agencies by Southern Business & Development magazine.

To learn more about the region and its high tech growth, we spoke with Sharon Hillstrom, president and CEO of the Bradenton Area EDC.

Sharon Hillstrom Headshot

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Optym-izing Operations

Gainesville-Based Tech Innovator Develops Software to Improve Transportation Efficiency

Transportation—it’s a multitrillion-dollar industry and a priceless necessity that keeps life moving.  Whether it’s a train that hauls lumber, a plane ride to visit family or a truck that delivers produce to a local grocery store, we count on planes, trains and automobiles to transport everything from people to valuable resources.  And it’s Dr. Ravi Ahuja’s vision to make all of it run more efficiently.

FoT Ahuja

Ahuja is the president and CEO of Optym, a Gainesville-based firm that develops planning, scheduling and data analytics software for leading companies in the railroad, mining, trucking and airline industries.  Started in 2000 by Ahuja, Optym, which is derived from “optimization,” helps companies do just that—optimize transportation processes using innovative technology platforms.

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Florida: The Next High Tech Hub

Report Says New Advanced Manufacturing Center Could Transform Florida’s Economy

There’s something new coming to Central Florida—and it’s going to be big.  It’s going to be impressive.  And it’s going to ignite economic growth throughout the region.

Forty years ago, that “something new” was Walt Disney World.  But today, it’s the new Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center (FAMRC)—and it’s set to change the landscape of Central Florida.

Opening in Osceola County in 2017, FAMRC will be a high tech manufacturing hub and incubator focused on the research and development of advanced manufacturing techniques for emerging technologies.

Advanced Manufacturing 23

Specifically, the center will place particular emphasis on smart sensors, a burgeoning $80 billion industry that is expected to be worth $154 billion by 2020.  As the industry continues to blossom, smart sensors are being integrated into much of the technology we use today, including smartphones, home appliances, cars and medical devices.  But beyond developing the next generation of smart sensors, FAMRC will also help position the Florida High Tech Corridor as a recognized leader in the advanced manufacturing industry.

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Coming in for a Landing

Unmanned Aircraft Systems Research Soars in Gainesville

It takes a highly skilled pilot to land a plane on a shortened runway.  This is true with unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) as well, where highly skilled operators or a sophisticated autopilot is needed to land an aircraft in a field with less than 1,000 feet of clearance.  If conditions aren’t perfect, the best options could be to deploy a parachute or deep stall the aircraft resulting in a controlled crash that often damages the aircraft.

UF - Coming in for Landing 1 - PHOTO CREDIT- Altavian

Landing with a crash may be a last resort; however, the fact that it is an acceptable option in the industry led Gainesville’s Altavian to find a better solution.  The UAS company partnered with the University of Florida through The Corridor’s Matching Grants Research Program to modify aircraft wings in a way that could make a crucial difference.

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Prosperous Pasco County PART 2

Small Business and High Tech Growth

This is the second post of a two-part series on Pasco County and its growing high tech industries.

We continue our conversation with John Walsh, vice president of the Pasco Economic Development Council, on local small businesses and Pasco County’s work to help them expand.

Can you briefly discuss a high-tech company based in Pasco County and some of the notable projects they are working on?

One company that has been most active with us lately is TwinStar Optics, which focuses on the manufacturing of precision optics, crystals and thin-film coatings. And they’re going through a huge expansion right now, not only in their domestic presence but in their international presence as well. So, they’re looking forward to some pretty aggressive growth over the next couple of years, and they’re really capturing a larger portion of the high-end market that exists for lasers and thin-film coatings and optics.

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Prosperous Pasco County PART 1

Modeling, Simulation & Training + Unmanned Aerial Systems On The Rise

Located just 30 miles north of Tampa, Pasco County is quickly growing its high tech industry presence. Once a small, bedroom community  for professionals who worked in Tampa, the area is now recognized as one of the top 40 fastest-growing counties in the United States—and not just in terms of population.

Pasco County was recently named a “hot bed” for small businesses and entrepreneurial growth. Playing a major role in the economic vitality of the region is the Pasco Economic Development Council, an organization dedicated to growing and promoting business opportunities.

We recently had the chance to speak with John Walsh, vice president of the Pasco EDC, about the county’s impressive growth and recent high-tech developments.

What are some of the new or exciting things happening in your region related to high-tech industry?

Over the past few years, we’ve been developing an interesting niche in the simulation industry. We previously had a simulation and training company here by the name of Opinicus, but just recently, they were acquired by Textron, which is a major corporation. So, Textron is now located in Pasco County, and they’re looking to do an expansion here, along with increased training in simulation development.

Another notable company is Aeronautical Systems Engineering, which does simulation development as well. They actually just completed an expansion into a 16,000-square-foot facility, so we have a few simulation companies here that have had tremendous growth recently.

What’s also interesting is that we have two pretty aggressive companies that are growing in the unmanned aerial systems industry. We’ve got Micro Drone Vision—which is a member of our Dade City Business Incubator—and then we have Turin Aviation Group in Zephyrhills. Both companies are pretty heavily involved in commercial applications for unmanned aerial systems, and both are doing very well.

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Funding Florida’s High-Tech Innovators

Florida Venture Forum Early Stage Conference Enters its Eighth Year

Across the Florida High Tech Corridor, there are countless startup companies innovating the next great technological advancement for every industry from life sciences to microelectronics.  This month, the Florida Venture Forum will give several of those emerging companies the chance to grow their business during its 8th Annual Early Stage Conference.

Hosted in St. Petersburg, the conference will feature expert panel discussions, networking opportunities, keynote speakers and some of Florida’s top early-stage companies, which will have the opportunity to pitch and meet with potential investors.  To date, the Early Stage Conference has helped early- to mid-stage companies obtain more than $34 million in funding.

This week, we had the chance to chat with Kevin Burgoyne, president of the Florida Venture Forum, about his organization and the upcoming Early Stage Conference:

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Media Contacts:

If you are seeking information about The Corridor or the initiatives of the Council, please contact:

Kacie Escobar
Curley & Pynn Public Relations
(407) 423-8006

We would be happy to put you in contact with industry experts who can speak to a variety of technology topics in their area of expertise. For a preview of the leaders who can share their experience in growing tech-based businesses in the Corridor, explore the videos of our Faces of Technology.