POWERDMS Flexes Muscle
Orlando’s tech sector — which Forbes noted is now the city’s second largest industry — continues growing and gaining accolades. As reported earlier in the year, POWERDMS raised $5 million in venture capital and announced plans to expand downtown. More recently, the company’s 133 percent growth landed it on the prestigious Inc. 5000 list.
Its website describes the company as an “idea” built on principles such as “the future of computing should be derived from respecting human biology, physiology, creativity and community.” Team members are described as “story-tellers, rocket scientists, software ninjas, computing hobbits” and a bunch of other half-cool/half-nerdy sounding names. Oh, and the site features an image of a humpback whale flying over a beach. So, what exactly is Dania Beach-based Magic Leap? It is promising to deliver the “next leap in cinematic reality,” but beyond that no one quite knows what to make of the South Florida firm. Two things are clear: 1) Google and several other leading tech investors have kicked in a combined half billion dollars to the company; and 2) Magic Leap has
attracted three UCF researchers plus a former EA Tiburon employee
to work for it, so its Super Region ties are growing. As to where it goes from here: Stay tuned.
In October, Brazilian aviation company Embraer broke ground on its $76 million business jet assembly complex at Melbourne International Airport. Embraer already has assembly operations there, in addition to an engineering and technology center and a global customer center.
Florida citrus growers let out a short collective sigh of relief with this news: The U.S. Department of Agriculture initially projects an increase in citrus production for 2014 to 2015, pegging the orange crop at 108 million boxes, up from last season’s total of 104.4 million. The USDA makes its initial estimate in October of each year and revises it monthly until July. The projection reverses two years of decline and provides a bit of optimism for growers fighting bacterial citrus greening. The USDA also forecasts Florida growers to produce 15 million boxes of grapefruit, 2.8 million boxes of tangerines and 900,000 boxes of tangelos – all production levels relatively consistent with 2013 to 2014.
A prescription for new ventures? Florida Blue has teamed up with Tampa Bay WaVE to establish the Florida Blue Innovation Zone, expanded space at the WaVE’s popular site in downtown Tampa. Among the start-up tenants are Healthbox Florida (Page 28). The Tampa Bay WaVE, which helps entrepreneurs start companies, opened in March 2013 and has a waiting list for tenants. Florida Blue invested $30,000 for the expansion.
The Corridor “Brand” New
Just call it The Corridor. That’s the message the Florida High Tech Corridor Council is delivering with new branding for the 23-county organization. The refreshed brand is a reflection of prominence that continues to increase across the region, cites President Randy Berridge. The Corridor includes more than 25 local and regional economic development organizations and 14 community colleges along with anchors University of Central Florida, University of South Florida and University of Florida. Within The Corridor, the council has worked with 360 companies on nearly 1,350 research projects, generating close to $1 billion in economic impact, according to its 2014 annual report.
USF President Judy Genshaft has long touted the importance of high-impact research and a culture of innovation on campus. Recent numbers offer proof: USF set new records for patents,
licenses and start-up companies during the 2013-2014 fiscal year, with 113 new U.S. patents (up 49 percent from last year), 91 licenses and options for USF-developed technology (up 21
percent), and 11 new start-up companies (up 22 percent). USF is ranked among the top 50 universities nationwide for research expenditures, according to the National Science Foundation, and has been among the top 15 universities worldwide for U.S. patents for the
past four years, according to the Intellectual Property Owners Association/NAI rankings.
Saint Leo University is banking on its new BB&T Center for Innovation & Technology to deliver enhanced business safety and spark new ideas. Highlights of the center are the Cybersecurity Laboratory, which supports the teaching of the university’s new master’s degree in the field, and the Collaboration Zone, where business students work on real-world projects for area companies and nonprofits. Housed at the Donald R. Tapia School of Business, the center opened by virtue of a charitable gift from BB&T Bank.
Using grant money from the Florida Board of Governors, USF has joined UCF and Florida International University in forming the Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities. USF, UCF and FIU produce nearly half of the baccalaureate degrees awarded by Florida’s state universities and serve 70 percent of Florida’s ethnic and racial minority populations. The universities will share best practices, policies and programs to maximize career readiness, particularly among under represented and limited-income students. In addition, UCF is part of the new University Innovation Alliance, a group of 11 top public research universities focused on helping more low-income and first-generation students earn college degrees. UCF is the only Florida school participating.
Any way you do the math, this is big: A $25 million gift from alumnus Les Muma and his wife has created the Muma College of Business at USF. It’s the single largest donation in USF’s history and brings the Muma family tally to more than $41 million. Les Muma, a 1966 mathematics graduate, is the retired chairman and CEO of Fiserv Inc., a financial industry automation products and services company.
The foam clearly rises to the top when it comes to craft beer in Florida. According to the Brewer’s Association, in 2012 (the most recent year measured), Florida consumption was responsible for more than $875 million in impact to the U.S. economy and led to the employment of almost 11,000 related industry workers statewide. That’s a lot of suds at new brew taps — particularly in Tampa Bay at places like Zeke’s Brewing, Three Palms Brewing, Cigar City Brewpub, Pair O’ Dice Brewing, Brewers Tasting Room, Cycle Brewing, Green Bench Brewing and 3 Daughters Brewing. Cheers to new enterprises. In fact, Tampa’s brewing scene is so vibrant, it was named the nation’s No.2 Best Beer Town in a USA Today poll.
When it opened in September 1914 there was no electricity, no lights. Yet, since starting as Ocala High School and now as Ocala’s Eighth Street Elementary, the school has been a community beacon for 100 years, making it the oldest school in continuous use in Florida. The original price tag for construction: slightly more than $46,000. A $2.6 million renovation occurred in 2000, the year it was placed on the National Registry for Historic Buildings. A cornerstone of the brick building remains, as does a century of memories.
Maitland Art Center Gains Distinction
The Maitland Art Center is a reflection of itself — making history by becoming the first National Historic Landmark in Orange County and the 44th statewide. It previously achieved National Historic Register status four decades ago. The center showcases ornate Mayan Revival influences and features gardens, sculptures, paintings and architecture.
CAPA, a 17th-floor rooftop steakhouse and bar that boasts the “best of Spanish-influenced cuisine in a romantic setting like no other,” has opened in the FOUR SEASONS RESORT ORLANDO AT WALT DISNEY WORLD. The menu, createdvby Florida-native Chef Tim Dacey, draws from the Basque culture of Spain andFrance. The restaurant features an open kitchen and wood-burning grill, while the outdoor patio’s diners enjoy views of the nightly fireworks. The Four Seasons opened in August and provides Disney patrons with a luxury hotel choice.
Two Marriott-brand hotels are finally ready to play ball at Flamingo Crossings, a rising project on the edge of Disney property near the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. In mid-October, following several delays, construction began on the TownePlace Suites and SpringHill Suites, which will add 500 “budget” suites to Disney’s hotel inventory by January 2016. Disney officials project that within 10 years Flamingo Crossings will contain some 5,000 hotel rooms and timeshare units plus 500,000 square feet of retail space.
Lake Mary Lands New Manufacturing Jobs
Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Americas is promising big growth in Lake Mary, north of Orlando — roughly 100 mostly professional jobs in a consolidation of its North American headquarters. The company manufactures power plant turbines in a south Orlando factory and has its Mitsubishi Heavy Industries operations in Lake Mary. The company, which merged with Hitachi last February, will move into a larger building there next year.
Lake Nona Medical City has another first: the GuideWell Innovation Center — a three-story, 92,000-square-foot facility that’s the first multitenant building in Central Florida designed specifically for life sciences, health innovation and technology companies. The center, scheduled to open late next year, will offer a mix of lab, clean room and office space.