Behind the aeronautical and space giants of Lockheed Martin and Boeing at Florida’s Space Coast are homegrown innovators such as David Nesbitt, whose Matrix Composites manufactures components that help keep flying things in the sky.
Last year, the Space Coast Economic Development Commission named Matrix its Small Manufacturer for the Year, and this year the company is in the running for GrowFL's Companies to Watch, which honors 50 second-stage companies. The Rockledgebased business has quadrupled in size in recent years, and Nesbitt anticipates growth to continue as he diversifies the business.
Nesbitt graduated with a degree in ocean engineering from Florida Institute of Technology and credits his experience there with his success. “Their senior design program is one of the key catalysts that led me to be an entrepreneur,” he says.
He got involved with composite materials engineering with the design and manufacture of the first U.S. Department of Transportation certified all-composite passenger vehicle before founding Matrix in 1993.
Robotic Internet of Things
Whether it’s a military drone strike or a wheelchair assist, robotics are increasingly playing a role in making hazardous tasks safer and everyday tasks easier. A Melbourne company is upping the game in what robotics can do and making them easier to use.
Tomahawk Robotics designs and builds mobile robots and has developed a robotic “internet of things” software, Kinesis, that allows multiple robotic devices to be operated by a single interface that can be operated from a cellphone on the other side of the world.
Founded in 2018 by a team that worked together for more than five years at Harris Corp., Tomahawk has attracted the attention of investors and the defense industry. It was among the winners at the Florida Venture Forum Early Stage Capital Conference in May 2018. In December, it received $2.4 million in seed money from Mosley Ventures.
Tomahawk plans to use the investment to evolve Kinesis and grow its product development and engineering teams.
Brevard County Snapshot
- 596,849 — Population
- 91.7% — Have high school diploma
- 28.4% — Have bachelor’s degree or higher
- $51,536 — Median household income
- $162,400 — Median home value
Volusia County Snapshot
- 537,538 — Population
- 89.6% — Have high school diploma
- 22.7% — Have bachelor’s degree or higher
- $43,838 — Median household income
- $149,900 — Median home value
- Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach
- Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Space Coast/Perimeter
- Florida Institute of Technology
- Eastern Florida State College
- Keiser University
- Webster University