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ATS Central Mar 2021
JB Hyperspectral install an instrument containing an Ocean Insight spectrometer to a tower to monitor vegetation and water runoff from melting snow.
ATS Central Mar 2021
Valencia College selected Kathleen Plinske as its fifth president.

Photo: Valencia College

ATS Central Mar 2021
The Museum of Illusions, a franchise founded in Croatia in 2015, opened its first Florida location in January at Orlandos' Icon Park on International Drive.

Central Florida Roundup

Ocean Insight's technology is used across an array of industries

Amy Keller | 3/1/2021


Shedding Light

Mike Morris, an oceanographer and serial entrepreneur, co-founded Ocean Optics in 1989 after he and a team of researchers from University of South Florida's College of Marine Science and Roy Walters of the University of Central Florida developed a miniature fiber-optic spectrometer he could install on a boat to measure the acidity of the seawater. The sensor provided a reliable method to monitor CO2 levels in the oceans and the impacts of global warming. He and his business partners grew the company to $50 million in sales and sold it in 2004 to the U.K.-based global safety equipment group Halma, which kept Ocean Optics’ headquarters in Central Florida.

After a 2019 rebranding as Ocean Insight, the 30-year-old photonics firm recently moved from Winter Park to a 52,000-sq.-ft. facility near the University of Central Florida. The company has more than 200 employees and plans to add 100 in Orlando over the next three years.

Despite its name, Ocean Insight’s optical sensing technology is used across an array of industries and fields of academic research. Ocean Insight partnered with Lugo Machinery & Innovation in Israel, for instance, to devise an automated system that uses optical sensors and artificial intelligence-enabled algorithms to sort fruit for freshness based on its moisture content. The process can detect abnormalities that are invisible to the naked eye.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the company worked with a major U.S. pediatric hospital to develop a system to monitor the levels of UV light coming from disinfection lamps it uses to irradiate personal protective equipment.


  • Donna Lee will join Rollins College as the vice president for student affairs in July. She previously held the same role at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn.


  • The Montrose Environmental Group in Irvine, Calif., has acquired MSE Group, an Orlando-based environmental engineering firm.


  • The Orlando-based Florida Green Building Coalition has passed the 24,000 mark in Florida Green certifications of single-family homes, commercial buildings, high-rises, land developments and local governments. Bill Kachman of DeLand, a retired Army major, was recently elected president of the non-profit group.


  • Brooks Rehabilitation, based in Jacksonville, will begin construction of a 60-bed hospital in Lake Nona in late 2021.
  • Advent- Health Oviedo ER has agreed to change its name to AdventHealth ER as part of a settlement with Oviedo Medical Center over trademark infringement.
  • Advent- Health named Randy Haffner president and CEO of its Central Florida division, replacing Daryl Tol, who resigned in January. Haffner was senior executive vice president and president/CEO for the system’s multi-state division covering eight states.


  • Orlando-based startup Miventure, a participant in the downtown Orlando UCF Innovation District, has launched an app to help companies raise money from friends, investors and others via micro loans as small as $100. The company recently launched its first fundraising campaign with Boca Code, a Boca Ratonbased coding school looking to raise $200,000.


  • Doctor Phillips Inc. has named Terry Prather, COO at LIFT Orlando, to its board of directors.
  • The Orlando Economic Partnership is collaborating with Skillful, the Markle Foundation’s public-private initiative, to help Orlando employers provide training and development for workers through certificate programs, online training and college courses.


  • Joe Lewis, the billionaire founder of the Tavistock Group, has listed his 17,000-sq.-ft. Windermere estate for sale for $14.95 million. Located on six acres in the golf club community of Isleworth, the house has seven bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a pool with a detached pool house and an annual property tax bill of $118,760. KB Home paid $1.92 million for 20 acres at Legacy Hills in Apopka, where it plans to build four dozen homes starting at $320,000.


  • Sprouts Farmers Market opened a store in Dr. Phillips on Turkey Lake Road, its third location in greater Orlando.


  • Sportzcast, a Winter Springs company that makes sports scoreboard data integration technology, was acquired by Genius Sports Group in New York but will continue to operate out of Winter Springs. Terms were not disclosed.
  • Raydon, a Port Orange company that makes virtual and simulation training programs for the military, was purchased by By Light Professional IT Services in Virginia for an undisclosed amount.


  • Hawaiian Airlines has begun non-stop service (with two weekly flights) between Honolulu and Orlando International Airport, the only airport in Florida offering direct access to the Aloha state.
  • American Airlines has added non-stop flights from Daytona Beach International Airport to Philadelphia and Dallas.


  • To help facilitate social distancing, Orlando International Airport is participating in a pilot program to monitor crowd density using a radar system that measures the number of people in select gate areas and displays the information on multiple digital beacons in boarding areas.
  • AdventHealth opened an outpatient clinic in Orlando offering monoclonal antibody treatments, including Regeneron, to high-risk individuals with COVID-19.
  • The Heart of Florida United Way distributed more than $1 million to community agencies in Central Florida to help support individuals impacted by COVID-19.
  • The NBA Players Association is donating $50,000 to a union-run food bank for laid-off Disney employees in Central Florida.
  • Following a nine-month delay because of COVID shutdowns, Universal’s Dockside Inn and Suites, a 2,050-room hotel, held its grand opening in December. Disney resumed operations of its All-Star Movies Resort this month and will reopen several other resorts over the next few months.


Read more in Florida Trend's March issue.
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