The Magnetic Capital of the World
Home Base to High-Powered Magnetics Research
Because of the global significance of the MagLab, the OEV appointed a Magnetic Taskforce of key stakeholders in the community to cultivate interest across industry sectors and continue developing the business ecosystem around magnetic technologies. The taskforce includes leaders from Danfoss Turbocor, the world’s leading manufacturer of oil-free, magnetic bearing compressors. When the company began scouting for a location for U.S. operations, Tallahassee was an obvious choice. Revolutionizing the industry through magnet technology, Danfoss Turbocor needed close proximity to the main source of knowledge for magnetic technologies in North America — the MagLab.
“We are highly dependent on magnetic science to enhance and further develop our technology,” says Ricardo Schneider, president, “and since we’ve been here, Tallahassee has become a critical location globally in the world of magnetics. There is no other place where you can find such a concentration of knowledge, talent, research laboratories, and companies all doing magnetic science. I don’t think people really know or understand what a big deal this is. Just as Palo Alto is the hub for technology, Tallahassee is quickly becoming the largest global magnetic ecosystem in the world.”
Danfoss Turbocor is more than a foundational member of Tallahassee’s applied sciences and advanced manufacturing community; it has become a key player in fostering collaboration among different industries and fields. The company has built relationships between the private sector and researchers, forged research agreements with FSU and FAMU, and is providing Tallahassee Community College with equipment for training tomorrow’s labor force.
“The pool of talent and knowledge, along with the opportunity to collaborate with researchers at Florida State and Florida A&M universities, the MagLab, and the College of Engineering, were signifi- cant factors in our expansion decision,” Schneider says. “Plus, our employees just like Tallahassee. There is really a great balance between the cultural life, natural surroundings, and stimulating mix of people.”
The MagLab may have attracted Danfoss Turbocor to Tallahassee, but the company made a conscious decision to stay because of the area’s quality of life and access to a talented workforce. The company will soon open a new facility in Innovation Park of Tallahassee, making an additional $18 million capital investment and creating over 120 new jobs.
A Hub for Innovation
Access to research is one thing. Having the right facilities in which to operate a company is another. The incubator program at Innovation Park of Tallahassee provides the infrastructure and support needed to utilize the magnetic research taking place at the MagLab.
“Clustering like-minded companies in Tallahassee to exploit the research in high field magnetics makes sense,” says Michael Tentnowski, director of entrepreneurship. “At Innovation Park, we provide the facilities and resources needed to help build this innovative web of support, including a wet lab, office space, meeting rooms, SBIR/ STTR assistance, presentation skills training, and guidance on gaining access to specialized equipment, labs, and researchers.”
As well as housing magnetic-minded companies, Innovation Park is home to other businesses based in science. One such company is QuarryBio, which guides drug companies through the early stages of drug discovery research as well as clinical trials. The company relocated to Tallahassee from Indiana because of the fantastic resources here. “We looked at several locations, but the wet lab space at Innovation Park was just perfect,” says Eric Graban, founder and CEO. “We have formed partnerships with FSU, which gives us access to expertise, libraries, and advisers who understand science-based businesses.”
Like Graban, Tentnowski has been impressed with the research and tech assets that Tallahassee has to offer. “There is a path of collaboration and innovation within the hard science community that is unique to our city,” he says.
The MagLab is not the only technology asset at Innovation Park. With support from the U.S. Navy, Office of Naval Research and the U.S. Department of Energy, the Center for Advanced Power Systems (CAPS) has established a unique test and demonstration facility with one of the largest real-time digital power systems simulators. The Center for Intelligent Systems, Controls, and Robotics (CISCOR) is dedicated to world-class research in robotics and has two focus areas: artificial intelligence and biologically inspired movement. They create robots that walk, crawl, and climb walls. The High-Performance Materials Institute is involved in composites and nanomaterials, advanced manufacturing, and data-driven process modeling. Even the FDOT conducts research at the park. The Structures Research Center provides research, testing, and evaluations of innovative structural components and bridge systems.
“There is great research going on, a strong tech community, and the universities open their doors to commercial licensing opportunities,” Tentnowski says.