September 18, 2021

Business Florida 2021 - The Regions


Bay • Calhoun • Escambia • Franklin • Gadsen • Gulf • Holmes • Jackson • Jefferson • Leon • Liberty • Okaloosa • Santa Rosa • Wakulla • Walton • Washington

| 10/30/2020

Technology & Innovation

Northwest Florida continues to gain traction as a leader in cybersecurity research, workforce education and professional training. At the forefront is the University of West Florida, offering cybersecurity degree programs and certificates across multiple disciplines. A federally designated National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education, UWF is the official Regional Resource Center for the Southeast, providing guidance on cyber defense education to colleges and universities in four Southeastern states and Puerto Rico. And in the private sector, Randy Ramos, founder of the Pensacola-based IT firm Global Business Solutions, is on a mission to increase Florida’s cybersecurity workforce, one student at a time. His ACCELETRAIN® cybersecurity vocational programs aimed at teens are finding wide acceptance.

Pensacola-based Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition and Gulf Breeze-based Andrews Research & Education Foundation are partnering to conduct research on human performance for the benefit of sports medicine and to improve the capabilities and resilience of astronauts, fighter pilots, divers and other elite members of the military.

FAMU-FSU College of Engineering Dean Murray Gibson has been named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. Gibson holds five U.S. patents in techniques for semiconductor layer growth, including a patent on a technique for electron beam lithography that led to one spinoff company.

Innovations coming out of universities in Florida’s Northwest include:

• Energy absorbing foam: Changchun Zeng, an associate professor and researcher at Florida State University’s High-Performance Material Institute, has developed a foam that he says could have a cushioning effect in football helmets. The foam is “auxetic” — it gets harder when hit, improving its energy absorbing capability and providing better protection for athletes.

• Corneas on demand: Research by Florida A&M University pharmaceutics professor Mandip Sachdeva has led to the creation of a device that allows the 3D printing of human cornea cells for possible transplants and cornea wound treatment.

• Camera-Guided Dogs: Three University of West Florida undergraduate students and a research professor are developing technology designed to help handlers in the field better communicate with their military, search-and-rescue and law enforcement dogs. Their device, a low-light sensitive camera that can be mounted onto a dog sent into hazardous environments, can transmit video and audio data to a handler’s phone or tablet from dozens of feet away.

KEY PLAYERS: AppRiver, Gulf Breeze; Bit-Wizards, Fort Walton Beach; Digital Boardwalk, Pensacola; Global Business Solutions, Pensacola; Inspired Technologies, Tallahassee


Health Care

Ready access to quality health care is more important than ever these days, and in Florida’s Northwest, health care systems are growing in size and capability to better provide it.

In Pensacola, Baptist Health Care, which already has nine locations in the metro area, has announced plans for a 10th to be located at the intersection of Brent Lane and I-110. Not only will the new $550-million hospital provide easy access for patients, it will offer 650,000 square feet of patient care space and the latest technologies for diagnosis and treatment. The new hospital is expected to open in summer 2023 with 250 beds and the potential to add floors as needed.

Pensacola-based Ascension Sacred Heart has opened two new health-care facilities: a $19-million, 58,000-sq.-ft. surgical center featuring six outpatient operating rooms, imaging equipment, a breast health center with mammography and a dermatology center; and a $9.5-million, 17,500-sq.-ft. outpatient rehabilitation center. And at Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, a blood test that helps detect lung cancer early is now available. The test, which is known as EarlyCDT-Lung, increases detection of early-stage lung cancer while decreasing unnecessary invasive procedures, radiation exposure and costs. It is one of only a few such tests offered in North Florida.

In Panama-City, Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center has begun a $62-million expansion that will add 67,000 square feet consisting of a fourth and fifth floor to the facility’s north tower and a third floor to its south tower. Clinical facilities to be added include a 22-bed medical/surgical unit, an 18-bed acute inpatient rehabilitation facility and a 12-bed surgical intensive care unit for a total of 52 new beds. Estimated completion: late 2021-early 2022.

In Tallahassee, Capital Regional Medical Center has opened two more freestanding emergency rooms, one in Southwood, the other in the Lake Jackson area. The identical 10,800-sq.-ft. facilities have 24 beds each and provide pediatric and adult care around the clock.

Tags: Business Florida, Northwest


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