Florida High Tech Corridor - Central Florida (USA)
A key driver in innovation and economic development in the state, the Florida High Tech Corridor includes a range of educational, research and business firms within targeted sectors with high growth potential. The corridor features approximately 21,000 high tech companies and supports an estimated 263,000 jobs. The 23 counties found within the corridor are supported through the Florida High Tech Corridor Council, which was founded in 1986 through state legislation.
About the Florida High Tech Corridor
The Florida High Tech Corridor encompasses three research universities, 14 community and state colleges, over 20 local and regional economic development organizations, 12 regional workforce boards, and several industry groups. Thousands of companies operate within the corridor, making it a major source of employment for Florida. The diverse corridor is engaged in leading innovation across several high tech sectors, including agritechnology, aviation and aerospace, digital media and interactive entertainment, financial services, information technology, life sciences and medical technology, microelectronics and nanotechnology, sustainable energy, optics and photonics, and modelling, simulation and training.
The corridor was launched in 1996 as a partnership between the University of South Florida and the University of Central Florida. Both universities were joined by the University of Florida in 2005. Together they formed the Florida High Tech Corridor Council (FHTCC). The Council is tasked with growing high tech industry and innovation in the region through partnerships between universities and industry to support research, marketing, skills development and entrepreneurship within the Florida High Tech Corridor.
Originally, the FHTCC was established to promote research and education partnerships with the goal of retaining the Cirent Semiconductor facility in Orlando. In 1997, its mandate was expanded to promote technology industries across Central Florida. One of the FHTCC's main initiatives is a matching grants research programme involving universities and industry. Since 1996, the Council has partnered with 350 companies in over 1,200 research projects. These projects have generated $943 million in direct impacts and a broader economic impact of over $1.3 billion, according to the FHTCC. The Council is also active in research, teacher education through the TechPATH initiative, and developing annual industry sector guides to promote the region.
The Florida High Tech Corridor includes 23 counties throughout Central Florida. The corridor spans between the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, from Levy, Alachua, Putnam and Flagler counties in the north to Sarasota, De Soto, Higlands, Osceola and Brevard counties in the south. The corridor includes some of the largest cities in Florida, including Orlando and Tampa. It also incorporates the cities of Gainesville, Melbourne, Daytona and Sarasota.
The corridor is well connected to major U.S. interstates. The I-75 corridor links Gainesville with Sarasota in less than three hours, while the I-4 connects the Tampa area with Orlando and Daytona Beach. The region also includes a section of the I-95. The corridor is linked to cities across the United States and around the world via international airports in Orlando and Tampa. Major airports are also found in Daytona Beach, Sarasota and St. Petersburg-Clearwater.
Some of the corridor's major employers are its three major research universities. The universities of Florida, South Florida and Central Florida support tens of thousands of direct and indirect jobs. Much of the research and development being undertaken in research institutes and centers at each university are spurring entrepreneurship and economic development throughout the corridor. The corridor also supports thousands of companies, from promising start-ups to leading multinationals.
Information technology alone employs over 42,000 people in the corridor. Over 4,700 IT businesses are active in the corridor, including Tech Data Corporation, Honeywell, L-3 and Harris Corporation. Another significant employer is the modelling, simulation and training sector. The sector employs some 32,000 people. The corridor is home to the National Center for Simulation, the University of Central Florida Institute for Simulation and Training, and the Simulation Center of Excellence. It also hosts the annual Inter-service/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference in Orlando.
The state's Space Coast and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are also within the Florida High Tech Corridor. A range of companies and academic institutions leading in aviation and aerospace are based in the region, including Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Aerosonic, Eaton, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon. The Florida Space Institute is also based in the corridor. The research institute is in partnership between the universities of Central Florida, South Florida and Florida, the Florida Institute of Technology, and several other state colleges and universities.
In the microelectronics and nanotechnology sector, the corridor is home to Siemens Westinghouse Power Corp and G.E. Power Systems, and others. It is also the site of the NanoScience Technology Center and Advanced Materials Processing and Analysis Center at the University of Central Florida, the Nanomaterials and Manufacturing Research Center and the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory at the University of South Florida, and the MICROFABRITECH programme at the University of Florida. Within the optics and photonics field, the corridor is well represented by DRS Technologies, the Florida Photonics Cluster, and some 90 companies that employ 3,000 people. It is also the home of the Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers at the University of Central Florida.
An emerging biotechnology hub, the corridor's medical technology sector employs more than 10,000 people. The corridor also sustains over 200 companies in the biotech sector. Sanford-Burham Medical Research Institute, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute and Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator are all found in the corridor, as well as the College of Medicine Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences and the Southwest Regional Centre for Biological Defence at the University of South Florida, and the University of Florida's McKnight Brain Institute.
The region is also emerging as a sustainable energy centre. It is the site of the Institute for Sustainable Energy at the University of Florida, which is leading the study of fuel cell technology and biofuels. The Power Center for Utility Explorations at the University of South Florida and the Florida Solar Energy Center at the University of Central Florida are also present in the corridor. Key employers in the sector include Progress Energy, Dais Analytic, Planar Energy, nSolGel, Siemens Power Generation and Mitsubishi Power Systems.
In the digital media and interactive entertainment sectors, the corridor is home to major firms such as Electronic Arts, Disney and Universal. The Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy at the University of Central Florida is also a leading graduate school in video game design. Largely concentrated in Tampa Bay, financial services in the corridor are represented by MetLife, Citicorp, Chase Manhattan, Saloman Brothers and Raymond James Financial, among others.