March 2, 2024

Technology in Florida

The High Tech Corridor

A formidable array of higher-ed research, private research institutions and high-tech businesses lines Florida's I-4 corridor.

Jerry Jackson | 7/24/2015

Public Institutions

  • UCF’s College of Medicine, established in 2006, is one of the first U.S. medical schools in decades to be built. In 2014, the program enrolled its sixth class, and its second class at full enrollment of 120 students. The college is an integral part of the growing Medical City at Lake Nona, and in 2014, it won 27 grants totaling $8.03 million.
  • USF Health, which includes the colleges of medicine, nursing, public health and pharmacy, received 87 NIH grants totaling $58.7 million in 2014.
  • The University of Florida has 14 research centers and institutes in the Corridor, including the Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnology Research and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute. In 2010, Orlando Health, and UF Health teamed up to form joint clinical programs in pediatrics, neuroscience, oncology, women’s health, transplantation and cardiovascular medicine. The partnership provides undergraduate and graduate medical residency and fellowship training at Orlando Health, and allows Orlando Health physicians and patients to be part of clinical trials through UF’s clinical research program. UF Health Cancer Center at Orlando Health launched in January 2014. The center focuses on developing individualized molecular-based targeted oncology therapies. The joint oncology program offers clinical trial collaborations and comprehensive cancer services. In 2014, UF received 313 NIH grants totaling $129.7 million.
  • Florida Polytechnic University, established in 2012 in Lakeland, is Florida’s only public university dedicated to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The school features two colleges: The college of innovation and technology and the college of engineering.


  • Kevin Hourigan, CEO, Bayshore Solutions, Tampa: Hourigan led the web design firm through the dot-com shakeout of the early 2000s to solid growth today in digital development and services, recently partnering with the Hillsborough County tax collector to produce software for a new custom mobile service for the county office.
  • Rachid Zahidi, president/COO, Sentinel Background Checks, Brandon (near Tampa): Zahidi has a team of a dozen employees who do advanced level background screening for potential hires in fields ranging from banking to technology.
  • Sean Burke, founder, KiteDesk, Tampa: The serial entrepreneur has attracted more than $4 million in VC for KiteDesk. He says the company has created a platform for sales reps that slashes prospecting time for leads by 70%.
  • Phillip R. Davis, founder, ThunderCloud Resources, Tampa: The startup streamlines the task of collecting, organizing and researching discovery documents and electronic files for law firms.
  • Brenda Prenitzer, CEO, NanoSpective, Orlando: The firm, in the UCF Research Park, includes a number of UCF grads, specializing in analysis of nanoscale materials as small as atoms and microelectronic parts for quality control, patent protection and research.
  • Carlos Carbonell, founder/CEO, Echo Interaction Group, Orlando: The developer of software applications for mobile devices, launched in 2008, has created more than 70 Android and iOS apps for dozens of clients in fields such as education, health, real estate and government.
  • Bryan da Frota, co-founder/CEO, Prioria Robotics, Gainesville: Prioria has built a base of defense, commercial and public safety government clients for the company’s unmanned aerial systems and related engineering services and products, notably the Maveric, a carbon fiber unmanned aerial vehicle.
  • Augi Lye, founder, Trendy Entertainment and ToneRite, Gainesville: The scientist-engineer and UF grad also created HackerHouse, an innovation hub in Gainesville for inventors working on prototypes of products while being mentored.
  • Josh Brown, founder/ CEO, Power DMS, Orlando: The company has more than 60 employees and 1,400-plus customers using its proprietary software for paperless document and procedure management.
  • Kunal Patel, CEO, Phyken Media, Orlando: An independent boutique developer of the mobile Wizard Ops immersive strategy games using 3-D animation software.
  • David Romine, co-founder/CEO, AgileThought, Tampa. The software and mobile application development firm celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2014 by opening an office for 15 new employees in downtown Orlando.
  • Ravindra K. Ahuja, founder/CEO, Optym, Gainesville: Ahuja is a former academician turned entrepreneur. His company develops planning and scheduling software, particularly for the railroad, airline, trucking and mining industries.
  • Sigrid Cottrell, CEO, HyCarb, Orlando: The firm uses graphene nanoparticles to make batteries charge five times faster and hold the charge longer. It recently launched a crowdfunding campaign for commercialization.
  • Daniel J. Scott, executive director, Tampa Bay Technology Forum: The serial entrepreneur and former USF business instructor was hired this year as executive director of the Tampa Bay Technology Forum and is raising the profile of the region as a tech hub.
  • Tim Jones, founder/ CEO, Cybrix Group, Tampa: Cybrix is Jones’ second tech startup. He is a director of the Tampa Bay Defense Alliance networking and support organization.
  • Orrett Davis, executive director, Orlando Tech Association: Davis co-founded a business accelerator program in Orlando, worked as an analyst at an early-stage venture capital firm and holds an MBA in entrepreneurship from Rollins College plus a B.S. in biologybiotechnology from the University of Florida.
  • Gregg Pollack, founder, Envy Labs, Code School and Starter Studio, Orlando: The new business startup program in Orlando just completed its third three-month crash program, which leverages sponsorships and mentors to help entrepreneurs get startups running.

Amenities & Events

Fostering STEM

Since its modest beginnings in the 1980s, the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa has grown to become the largest science center in the Southeast and fifth-largest in the nation. The facility now spans 74 acres. While the non-profit has struggled with finances in recent years, local leaders are committed to its future and exploring ways to ensure long-term success, possibly in a new, higher profile venue downtown.

With more than 450 interactive exhibits on everything from space and astronomy to robotics and gaming, MOSI gives visitors a hands-on feel for the creative side of technology. The center includes a NASA-themed exhibit, a space for budding inventors called Idea Zone and an exhibition called 3D Printing the Future, with demonstrations and hands-on creation of 3-D objects. MOSI’s popular Florida Hospital IMAX Dome Theater is featuring a 45-minute documentary called Journey to Space, an inspirational look at space flight’s past and the potential of future missions to Mars.

Events in the Corridor

The Tampa Bay Technology Forum, which brings together leaders from hundreds of large and small companies, government and civic groups, hosts or participates in 10 to 15 events nearly every month, from meetups to major conferences highlighting the region and its assets.

BarCamps, eclectic meetups of tech geeks and entrepreneurs, have sprung up worldwide in the past decade, and the daylong semi-informal gatherings have devoted followers in the Corridor, including in Orlando and notably in Tampa Bay, where sessions held on the campus of the University of South Florida, with speakers and space for networking, have attracted as many as 1,000 attendees.

The Orlando Electronic Interactive Entertainment Convention, or Otronicon, celebrated its 10th anniversary at the Orlando Science Center this year as a showcase for local digital media. It’s a place where the public can meet and learn about some of the 30,000 professionals working in the 3-D modeling, animation and game design fields in the Orlando area.

Ed-Tech Hack-a-Thon in Gainesville brings together hackers, programmers, graphic designers, tech mentors and investors for a weekend of app development in the education field, with an added twist: It offers a competition with cash prizes.

TIE: The Indus Entrepreneurs — The prominent global support network based in Silicon Valley opened a branch in Tampa in 2012, and last year TIE-Tampa obtained full nonprofit status. Headed by philanthropists, executives and entrepreneurs from India, the organization is ramping up networking meetings and events in Tampa, Orlando and others sites in the Florida High Tech Corridor.


  • 19,914 -- Number of technology companies
  • 247,330 -- Number of technology jobs
  • $79,822 -- Average salary at tech companies

Tampa / St. Petersburg / Clearwater

  • Population: 2.9 million
  • Strengths: Bioscience, Medical Technology, Defense, USF Medical School, Marine Science
  • Notable: Tampa’s defense sector includes MacDill Air Force Base and U.S. Central Command. A cluster of medical device manufacturers has a strong presence in northern Pinellas County.


  • Population: 273,377
  • Strengths: Bioscience, Medical Technology, Aviation, UF Medical School
  • Notable: The Corridor’s three major public universities — UF, UCF and USF — were awarded 239 patents last year and garnered more than $197 million from the National Institute of Health.

Orlando / Kissimmee / Sanford

  • Population: 2.3 million
  • Strengths: Bioscience, Medical Technology, Defense, Optics, Photonics, UCF Medical School, Simulation, Digital Media
  • Notable: Metro Orlando ranks as one of the top four photonics hubs nationwide, along with San Jose, Calif., Rochester, N.Y., and Tucson, Ariz. The region is also a hotbed for modeling and simulation, hosting the National Center for Simulation.

Palm Bay / Melbourne / Titusville

  • Population: 556,885
  • Strengths: Aviation/Aerospace, Bioscience, Medical Technology, Defense, Marine Science
  • Notable: All the leading rocket makers and related launch firms have significant operations in Brevard County, including NASA’s United Launch Alliance, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, XCOR Aerospace and SpaceX.

Tags: Research & Development, Technology/Innovation

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