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Kissimmee sensor facility partners with school to encourage STEM

By Marco Santana, Orlando Sentinel

Some soon-to-be 11th graders in Osceola County will be part of the first group of students to get an inside look at a sensor research facility in Kissimmee next month.

It will be a test run of what officials at the high-tech building known as BRIDG hope becomes a regular event, one meant to encourage students to enroll in science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses in college.

That would help bolster the region’s STEM workforce, BRIDG Chief Executive Officer Chester Kennedy said.

“It’s part of the sustainable economic transformation we are trying to lead here in Osceola County,” he said. “We need to think about this project in a way that it builds the workforce and starts interest in these careers early on in their lives. We are trying to give kids an inspiration, something that will get them excited.”

The stage for that effort: a 109,000-square-foot building on the former Judge Farms property in Kissimmee.

BRIDG, which only recently opened its doors officially, will host a group of 30 students beginning June 13. Engineers and other tech professionals will explain the jobs and technologies being used at BRIDG to the rising juniors.

The three-day program, which uses a curriculum developed by California-based nonprofit SEMI Foundation, also includes visits to St. Cloud motor manufacturer Mercury Marine and University of Central Florida. Florida High Tech Corridor Council and Osceola County Education Foundation are footing the bill.

Read more:  http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/technology/os-bz-bridg-osceola-school-20170606-story.html 

Florida Trend Spotlight:  High-Tech Corridor

The Florida High-Tech Corridor’s progress toward a significant role in the nation’s high-tech landscape can be charted both objectively and subjectively.  Objectively, jobs and companies can be counted:  A decade ago, the 23 counties that have banded together to market their high-tech assets as the Corridor counted 7,600 companies employing 135,000.  Today, the Corridor encompasses nearly 21,000 tech-related companies and 238,000 technology jobs.

Less precisely measured but just as significant is the collaboration that the non-profit High Tech Corridor Council development initiative and its leaders have engineered into the activities of the high-tech players — the University of Florida, University of Central Florida and University of South Florida, along with 14 community and state colleges, private schools, more than 20 economic development agencies, 12 regional workforce boards and numerous industry groups and private companies.

Read more:  http://www.pageturnpro.com/Florida-Trend/78086-Fl-Trends-High-Tech-Corridor_2017/index.html#1

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stemCONNECT: Cultivating Tomorrow’s Workforce


Since inception, the Florida High Tech Corridor’s mission has been to grow high tech industry and innovation through partnerships that support research, marketing, workforce and entrepreneurship.  Our mission remains unchanged, but the evolution of technology has enabled Corridor programs to transform in ways we could not have imagined more than 20 years ago, specifically stemCONNECT.

We have found that The Corridor’s stemCONNECT program truly does make the connection between academia and private industry by bringing together classrooms and experts in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) for engaging presentations.

With the recent integration of video conferencing tools, we are realizing the potential of stemCONNECT virtual sessions to impact thousands of students across the region.  Moving forward, The Corridor will focus on development of this program and we have established “stemCONNECT” as the new identity for our workforce initiatives and retire techPATH.


Through the years, Jeff Bindell and Vicki Morelli have been instrumental in the success of our workforce programs and they will continue to lead as stemCONNECT director and stemCONNECT manager, respectively.  stemCONNECT has already introduced high tech careers to more than 4,700 students since we started facilitating virtual sessions in 2013.  It has also become a valuable tool for more than 150 teachers and more than 50 experts who have participated thus far. Jeff, Vicki and I appreciate your support as we strive to grow the total reach of stemCONNECT to middle school and high school students and teachers.

On behalf of The Corridor, thank you for being by our side through this journey and for joining us as we continue to boost the workforce pipeline.  To learn more about stemCONNECT, please visit www.flstemconnect.com.


Ed Schons
President, The Corridor

Ambitious high-tech BRIDG project opens doors near Kissimmee

By Paul Brinkmann, Orlando Sentinel

The ambitious high-tech research project near Kissimmee, known as BRIDG, held its official opening Thursday morning.

The hope for the project is that it will eventually attract thousands of high-paying tech jobs to an area known more for budget motels near Disney World. BRIDG is moving into its brand new 109,000-square-foot facility, the Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center, on the former Judge Farms property.

The facility is aimed at developing new advanced semiconductor designs for microelectronics, nano-electronics, sensors, fiber optics and photonics. Its design center will seek new electronics ideas and help make them a reality.

The project was guided by University of Central Florida and other universities, the High Tech Corridor and other private parties. UCF has been helping BRIDG pursue federal contracts that would build sensors and other photonics technology at the facility.

Read more:  http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/brinkmann-on-business/os-bz-osceola-bridg-opening-20170412-story.html

Cade Museum Awarded $50,000 from Univ. of South Florida, Florida Inventors Hall of Fame, and Florida High Tech Corridor

Museum named after inventor of Gatorade will host an exhibit on USF inventors and Florida Hall of Fame inductees

APRIL 4, 2017, GAINESVILLE, FL – The Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention, the University of South Florida (USF), Florida Inventors Hall of Fame, and Florida High Tech Corridor Council (The Corridor) are partnering to promote Florida’s most creative inventors and researchers. As part of this effort, USF, with The Corridor, has provided $50,000 to sponsor an exhibit on USF inventors and Hall of Fame inductees at the Cade Museum’s new building in Gainesville.

“We are very grateful for the support from USF, the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame and The Corridor” said Phoebe Cade Miles, the Museum’s co-founder and daughter of the late Dr. J. Robert Cade, the lead inventor of Gatorade and one of the first inductees into the Hall of Fame, which is located at USF. “USF is a leader among Florida’s universities as a strong supporter of the state’s inventors and researchers. Our missions are almost perfectly aligned.”

“The Cade name is significant in the history of innovation in the state of Florida,” said Paul Sanberg, senior vice president for research, innovation and economic development at USF and chairman of the Hall of Fame. “We are proud to be part of this new museum celebrating our inventors and inspiring a future of discovery in Florida and our nation.”

The Cade Museum, scheduled to open to the public in January 2018, will teach science and creativity through the experiences of inventors and entrepreneurs. In addition to telling the stories of Gatorade and other notable Florida inventions, the 21,000 sf. facility will host inventors and entrepreneurs for live classes and lectures in its teaching labs. The Museum also runs the annual Cade Prize, a $50,000 award to the best new technology in Florida.

USF and The Corridor join many other donors from around the state in making the Cade Museum a reality. In addition to the Cade family, benefactors include the City of Gainesville, Alachua County, the State of Florida, Gatorade, the Community Foundation of North Central Florida, the Florida Community Loan Fund, J.P. Morgan Chase, the John Templeton Foundation, Santa Fe College, the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, multiple family foundations, and around 800 individual donors.

Stephanie Bailes, Cade Museum Executive Director 352-371-8001 | sbailes@cademuseum.org

Berridge Retiring as Head of Florida High Tech Corridor Council

Orlando Business Journal, By Cindy Barth

Randy Berridge, president of the Florida High Tech Corridor Council, announced plans to retire as head of the organization after 21 years at the helm effective Feb 1, but will serve part-time in a transition role until June 30.

Ed Schons, the University of Central Florida’s assistant vice president of university relations and director of economic development, will take over the role as head of the council.

For the full story, visit

What’s in a Name? Osceola’s Advanced Manufacturing Consortium Now Called BRIDG

ORLANDO, Jan. 17, 2017 – The International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research, known as ICAMR, announced Tuesday that it will officially do business as BRIDG, an acronym that captures the central mission of the innovative technology collective – “Bridging the Innovation Development Gap.”

Leaders say the new name better stands for what they do – connecting researchers and industry to accelerate the development of emerging technologies.

Since it launched in 2014, the consortium has provided a platform for advanced manufacturing development to “bridge the gap” between advanced research at Florida’s universities or industry innovators and cost-competitive manufacturing of new products tied to connected devices and the Internet of Things.

Its partners now range from a Belgium-based leading international hub in nano-electronics and digital technology to a home-grown photonics and smart sensor developer.

“We’re entering a new phase of this project that will transform Osceola County and Florida’s economy, giving us a competitive advantage over advanced, nano-scale manufacturing centers around the globe, and our new identity reflects that,” said Chester Kennedy, CEO for BRIDG.

In addition to a new name for the consortium, Osceola County has renamed the 500-acre, master planned site where the consortium is headquartered from the Osceola Tech Farm to NeoCity.
Osceola County leaders say the name signals a new horizon for the region’s high-tech economy, and the site will be more than a traditional research park with its community connections and surrounding natural landscape.

In March, BRIDG will open its new design center at NeoCity, across from Osceola Heritage Park. The 109,000-square-foot facility will be one of the most advanced fabrication labs in the world and offer partners and others the opportunity to share equipment and conduct research needed to profitably access the next-generation sensor economy.

The design center and consortium are led by Osceola County, the University of Central Florida and the Florida High Tech Corridor Council (known as The Corridor), and are poised to change the region’s technology industry.

“Tonight was a glimpse of things to come. It’s here, and it’s real. It is the future of nano-technology research and development. The global high-tech spotlight is shining on us as we change the face of Florida’s economy – putting us at the forefront of the next generation of nano-scale, micro-electronics,” said Osceola Commission Chairman Brandon Arrington. “None of this would have been possible without unanimous support of this Osceola County Commission, which has had the vision and foresight to make the commitment to fund this journey.”

The project has garnered widespread support.

State lawmakers approved $15 million toward the project last spring, and, in a major announcement in July, Belgian nanotechnology firm imec announced its partnership and plans to build its research and development design center at NeoCity, in collaboration with BRIDG. The company’s new U.S. headquarters will focus on photonics and high-speed electronics integrated circuits.

“With our local and global partners, we will create new solutions and economies of scale to transform the smart sensor industry, while diversifying the economy to lift our community,” said Dale Whittaker, UCF Provost and Executive Vice President. “That’s what happens when you bring together the best minds from the research labs and manufacturing centers with future-focused government leaders.”

Other major partners include Harris Corporation, Argonne National Laboratories, Kissimmee-based Photon-X, Florida International University, University of South Florida and University of Florida among others.

“This project is another demonstration of the power of partnerships, as almost from the start people and organizations have raised their hands and opened their wallets – even before being asked – to join the founders in a venture we all know will create jobs and amazing new technology,” said Randy Berridge, president of The Corridor.

To access new logos for BRIDG and NeoCity, along with photos, please visit: https://goo.gl/ub52Bf

BRIDG is an industry-led consortium for advanced sensors, optics and photonics and other advanced manufacturing devices, focusing on the development of innovative manufacturable processes, materials and equipment for next-generation smart sensors and other future high-tech products. Supported by Osceola County, the University of Central Florida and the Florida High Tech Corridor Council, BRIDG facilitates the connection between innovation and industry and “bridges” the innovation development gap that makes commercialization possible. BRIDG is initially targeting the mega-growth technologies that will lead to over 50 billion smart sensors and imagers predicted by 2020, transforming the way humans interact with the world every day. Learn more at http://GoBRIDG.com.

About Osceola County
Osceola County is a fast-growing, dynamic and innovative community. While we honor the history and traditions passed down from our pioneer ranching families, we are focused on a vision to be the center of research and manufacturing innovation for “smart sensors” that will supercharge the regional economy as the leader in what will be a $154 billion industry by 2020. As part of the Orlando Metropolitan Area, we proudly host approximately 7 million annual overnight guests who enjoy easy access to Central Florida’s world-famous theme parks and Osceola County’s unique sights and unmatched hospitality.

About UCF
The University of Central Florida, one of the largest universities in the nation with more than 64,000 students, uses the power of scale and the pursuit of excellence to make a better future for our students and society. Described by The Washington Post as demolishing “the popular belief that exclusivity is a virtue in higher education” and credited by Politico with creating a “seamless pipeline of social mobility,” UCF is recognized as one of the best values in higher education. UCF aligns its teaching, research and service with the needs of the community and beyond, offering more than 200 degree programs at more than a dozen locations, including its main campus in Orlando. Faculty and students are creating innovations in areas as diverse as simulation and training, optics and lasers, hospitality management, video game design, business, education and health care to solve local and global problems. For more information, visit www.ucf.edu.

About The Florida High Tech Corridor Council
The Florida High Tech Corridor Council is an economic development initiative of the University of Central Florida (UCF), the University of South Florida (USF) and the University of Florida (UF). The mission of The Corridor is to grow high tech industry and innovation through partnerships that support research, marketing, workforce and entrepreneurship. A partnership involving more than 25 local and regional economic development organizations (EDOs), 14 state colleges and 12 CareerSource boards, The Corridor is co-chaired by the presidents of UCF, USF and UF. The Corridor includes the presidents of two state colleges, the president of the Florida Institute of Technology and representatives of high tech industry. The unique partnership has resulted in a strategic approach to high tech economic development that supports matching funds research, marketing, workforce development and entrepreneurship leveraging governmental, EDO and corporate budgets on a regional rather than local basis. For more information, visit www.floridahightech.com.

Media Contacts:

Gloria LeQuang, Marketing and Community Relations Director, BRIDG

Mark Pino, Public Relations Officer, Osceola County

Zenaida Kotala, Associate Director for News & Information, UCF

Vianka McConville, Curley & Pynn, The Corridor

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Media Contacts:

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

Vianka McConville
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.