Rear Adm. Paul Sohl (USN Ret) has been tapped to lead the Florida High Tech Corridor Council (The Corridor Council), an economic development initiative of the University of Central Florida (UCF), the University of South Florida (USF) and the University of Florida (UF) to attract, retain and grow high tech industry and innovation – and the workforce to support it – in a 23-county region spanning the state.
Sohl offers extensive experience in leadership, strategy and innovation. He was the unanimous choice of the presidents of UCF, USF and UF, who serve as co-chairs of The Corridor Council. When Sohl assumes the role of CEO June 1, he will become the organization’s fourth leader since it was founded in 1996.
As CEO, Sohl will play an essential role in facilitating collaboration between the three universities and their partners, including more than 25 local and regional economic development organizations, 14 state colleges and 12 CareerSource boards.
His responsibilities will also include overseeing a portfolio of programs, including:
- Matching Grants Research Program, which since inception in 1996 has matched local companies with university faculty and student researchers to bring new technologies to market in over 1,500 projects that have generated over $1 billion in verified downstream impacts;
- stemCONNECT, a free web-based solution for teachers that inspires K-12 students to pursue high tech, high-wage careers critical to sustained economic growth by partnering with STEM professionals who deliver engaging presentations to connect the dots between textbook and reality;
- Florida Virtual Entrepreneur Center, the preeminent business resource and online community for Florida entrepreneurs, featuring a master calendar of business and entrepreneurial events and a sortable database of over 900 business resource agencies at flvec.com; and,
- Talent Forum, an event that annually brings together representatives from the region’s high tech industry with university career center professionals to discuss talent needs, recruiting strategies and job opportunities in The Corridor.
“After having the honor of serving in the Navy for 33 years, I took some time to identify the next step and kept returning to this middle part of Florida – The Corridor region – and the culture of ‘yes’ that has created an environment here for endless opportunities,” said Sohl. “The Corridor Council is a catalyst for innovation and I’m tremendously excited to work alongside experts from academia, industry and economic development who are already making an impact in the communities we serve. Especially during this time of uncertainty, this collaborative effort has never been more important. We are all in this together and each of our partners has a unique role to play in the resilience of our region, state and country.”
Sohl was founder and president of BackFin Partners, a consultancy established in 2019 to support leadership and innovation at defense firms contracted by the U.S. government. He has guest lectured at UCF on the topics of industrial engineering and engineering innovation.
Previously, Sohl served for 33 years in the U.S. Navy. His last command was leading the Navy’s Operational Test & Evaluation Force in Norfolk, Virginia, where he directed the operational testing and evaluation of Navy warfighting systems and capabilities, and reported directly to the vice chief of naval operations.
Sohl has also commanded the Naval Aviation Fleet Readiness Center enterprise headquartered in Patuxent River, Maryland; the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division and Naval Test Wing Pacific in China Lake and Point Mugu, California; and, the Fleet Readiness Center Southeast in Jacksonville, Florida. He has extensive experience in simulation and training as a program director and test pilot, and has served two tours overseas for Operation Desert Shield and Operation Enduring Freedom.
Sohl holds a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a master’s degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from Stanford University.