By Linda Florea, Orlando Sentinel
September 13, 2011
The Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission honored 10 companies on Tuesday with 2011 William C. Schwartz Industry Innovation Awards.
The annual awards, named in honor of the late William C. Schwartz, a local business pioneer and innovator within the field of optics and photonics, recognize companies that have a significant effect on the region through innovative practices, products or ideas.
Two recipients were selected from each of the three counties served by the EDC and from Orlando; in addition, the Florida High Tech Corridor Council has an Award for Innovation. Also, a special award was included this year for Universal Orlando's Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which has generated huge attendance gains for the theme-park resort and helped create nearly 800 jobs.
In Orlando: E.R. Precision Optical, based in the Parramore/Holden Heights area, a designated "historically underutilized business zone," dramatically expanded its downtown facilities and spent more than $2 million creating an in-house system that allows it to grow germanium and silicon crystals used in night-vision equipment. Also, Nemours Children's Hospital in Lake Nona's Medical City created a Family Advisory Council to help it develop the hospital's design and amenities and to assist it in the hiring of hospital executives and physicians.
In Orange County: Lockheed Martin Corp., with a local presence for half a century, for its Prepar3D system and its Human Universal Load Carrier. Also, n-Space Inc., an independent game-development company based locally for almost 17 years, for multiple contracts that will sustain the company and 65 local jobs.
In Seminole County: Seminole County Public Schools, which has developed programs to help prepare high school graduates for careers in EDC-targeted industries such as modeling and simulation, optics and photonics, digital media, life science and clean technology. Also, XOS Digital Inc. of Lake Mary, which sells digitally based coaching systems and services to professional and college sports teams.
In Lake County: The city of Tavares, which bills itself as "America's seaplane city," for the construction of an $8 million marina that has led to the opening of 26 downtown businesses and persuaded Progressive Aerodyne, manufacturer of Sea Rey light-sport seaplane, to relocate to the city's Lake Idamere. Also, WattNext Inc., a company that sprang from the local business incubator, called RubeLab, for development of a solar-array shade structure called Watt Tree.
The high-tech council's award went to Orlando-based VaxDesign for an improved system of predicting people's response to pharmaceuticals or vaccines, which led last year to VaxDesign being acquired by Sanofi Pasteur of Lyon, France.
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