The Corridor Highlights Accomplishments in 2022–2023 Annual Report

September 25 | impact reports

Unleashing the Region’s Expotential

I am thrilled to present the Florida High Tech Corridor’s annual report, showcasing another remarkable year of progress and growth.

Since renewing our shared commitment to “unleash the region’s exponential potential,” The Corridor and our esteemed university partners have had much to celebrate. At the University of South Florida (USF), we celebrated acceptance to the prestigious Association of American Universities, a signal of the campuswide commitment to cutting-edge research and academic excellence. At the University of Central Florida (UCF), we celebrated a milestone anniversary, marking UCF’s 60th year as a catalyst for economic development, including growth of the region’s aerospace, defense and modeling, simulation and training industries. Finally, at the University of Florida (UF), we celebrated the appointment of a new president, Dr. Ben Sasse, who we are excited to partner with in building the future of our region.

Dr. Ben Sasse is following in the footsteps of Dr. W. Kent Fuchs, past president at UF and former Corridor Council Co-chair, who is on sabbatical until returning to UF as a professor next year in the department of electrical and computer engineering. From leading UF to rank among the nation’s top-five universities to launching a university-wide artificial intelligence initiative, his contributions created a ripple effect that will be felt for decades. It was truly a pleasure to work with him and I hope our paths will cross again. We also fondly remembered the late UCF President John Hitt, a visionary leader who proudly counted The Corridor among many initiatives in his legacy of partnerships. As a founding member and Council Co-chair for more than two decades, Dr. Hitt had an immense impact on our region. Our thoughts continue to be with his family and the UCF community.

Over the past year, we have leaned into the spirit of partnership with which The Corridor was founded and harnessed the power of our regional ecosystem to secure new resources. The Corridor secured three federal awards this year, increasing our revenue by nearly 20%. Most importantly, these resources have allowed our team to multiply The Corridor’s impact. With an emphasis on uplifting entrepreneurs in underserved and underestimated communities, we are achieving a goal to fill critical gaps in the ecosystem.

The Corridor played an instrumental role in supporting two competitive applications from Florida to the first-ever National Science Foundation’s Regional Innovation Engines program, leading an effort with partners in Central Florida and Miami that addressed innovation in coastal resiliency and environmental sciences, and supporting another large effort with NeoCity’s Semiconductor Technology Accelerator.

Ultimately, with an important national focus on semiconductor reshoring, BRIDG’s Type-2 proposal for a NeoCity Semiconductor Technology Accelerator, was selected among 16 semifinalists in the running to receive up to $160 million. If Central Florida is selected as one of five awardees, it will be transformational for our region, advancing and accelerating our innovation ecosystem. We just wrapped up a three-day site visit to showcase all the incredible work happening in The Corridor, with fingers crossed to bring it home!

As we move ahead, our greatest asset is The Corridor’s tremendously talented team. It was an honor this year to welcome new team members and elevate others:

  • Amy Beaird, Ph.D., became our first chief strategy officer, appointed to the role after serving for two years as founding director of Cenfluence, our industry clustering partnership with Orange County Government. Her wealth of experience providing critical services to small businesses, and advising innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems on strategy and grant submission has been invaluable.
  • Steve “Snak” Nakagawa, USN Captain (ret), joined The Corridor as program director for Cenfluence, where he is applying knowledge and experience as a leader of Central Florida’s defense and modeling, simulating and training industries to lead the team growing emerging industry clusters.
  • Davena Brothers joined Cenfluence as its Energy + Environmental Sciences cluster manager, bringing a wealth of knowledge in federal contracting, entrepreneurship and business development.
  • Amanda Allen was appointed to program coordinator, a new role in which she’ll support contract and grant execution, industry clustering and marketing activities for The Corridor. Allen was previously program manager for stemCONNECT, which ended this year as we prepare to invest in new and ongoing opportunities for STEM talent development.

Reflecting on this year of exceptional achievements, it reminds me of my Navy days … this small and mighty team has taken the ship out of port and we are now a ship at sea, accelerating underway!

I want to express my deepest gratitude to our incredible partners, stakeholders and the entrepreneurs we serve. With you, we are driving continued growth of a high-tech ecosystem where innovation thrives. It’s an honor to be your trusted partner in collaboration.

In your service,
Paul Sohl
Rear Adm. USN (ret)
CEO, Florida High Tech Corridor

To view other impact reports: 2021-22 Annual Report | 2020–21 Annual Report | 2019–20 Annual Report | 2018–19 Annual Report | 2017–18 Annual Report | 2016–17 Annual Report

The Florida High Tech Corridor Posts 2020–2021 Annual Report

This past year, we have continued to persevere together in tremendous fashion. While fueling the growth of legacy programs like our Matching Grants Research Program and stemCONNECT, we sponsored research to combat COVID-19, expanded access to critical entrepreneurial resources, launched economic diversification initiatives, made important technology concepts more accessible to future generations, and more.