A “clustering” initiative launched just eight months ago by the Florida High Tech Corridor (The Corridor) and Orange County Government to strengthen Central Florida’s economy and spur job creation beyond hospitality and tourism, has already signed nearly 50 companies in four technology industry clusters and will move forward under a new brand: Cenfluence.
Combining “confluence” and “Central Florida,” the Cenfluence name and associated brand embodies a mission to unite cluster members and propel them beyond local borders to energize national and international partnerships and commerce.
Formerly the Orange County Cluster Initiative, Cenfluence was established in February 2021 as one element of the County’s $2 million effort to stimulate and diversify the local economy amid COVID-19 impacts. Additional funding approved by the Board of County Commissioners, Oct. 26, will enable Cenfluence to transition from the initial stages of cluster formation and information gathering to an increased focus on growth and delivery of member services through 2022 and beyond. It also allows the team to expand outreach, leaning on The Corridor’s regional perspective to incorporate members from other counties, including Seminole, Brevard, Volusia, Lake, Polk and Osceola.
“Partnering with Orange County has granted us a tremendous opportunity to harness the energy of four emerging clusters and build an unparalleled ecosystem where industry, academia and support organizations converge,” said Corridor CEO Paul Sohl. “Cenfluence represents a spirit of collaboration that has driven The Corridor’s work for 25 years and we can’t wait to experience how the ripple effects of its growth will impact our region, including Central Florida and beyond.”
According to a study of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Regional Innovation Cluster Initiative, members of a formal cluster structure benefit from revenue gains, increased integration with industry supply chains, support for technology development and commercialization, and collaboration activities with other members and stakeholders. Cenfluence joins only 20 other cluster-like organizations applying this proven method in the U.S. and Canada, positioning the region as an innovator internationally.
“I am extremely proud of the Cenfluence team and their hard work to put Orange County on the map as a premier destination for technology research and innovation,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings. “This initiative addresses a critical need to complement our robust tourism industry and further diversify the region’s economy so we can better serve our business community and residents.”
The initiative is spearheaded by Jack Henkel, The Corridor’s program director for industry and regional diversification, and Dr. Amy Beaird, senior cluster manager, in partnership with Orange County’s economic development team. Cenfluence also benefits from the guidance of Mark Spinoglio, a world‐renowned consultant with expertise in competitive industry cluster formation, and PRISMATIC, an Orlando-area branding and marketing agency, and visionary, behind the Cenfluence brand.
“The launch of Cenfluence signifies an awakening moment for our tech business community,” said Henkel. “We have the assets innovative companies need to be successful and now we have a formal cluster structure in place to help them better navigate and take full advantage of all this region has to offer. As a Florida native and member of the innovation community for 20 years, it’s amazing to witness the synergy and passion of our local businesses and stakeholders culminate in this meaningful step toward a stronger regional economy.”
Nearly 50 businesses have joined and more than 160 have been identified as prospective members of the four Cenfluence clusters:
- Energy & Environmental Sciences
- Gaming, Entertainment & eSports
- Life Sciences
- Learning Sciences & Human Performance
Businesses can learn more and sign up for cluster membership at Cenfluence.com. For an initial period, there is no membership fee required thanks to generous funding provided by Orange County Government.
For the latest updates and information about industry diversification and innovation in Central Florida, follow Cenfluence on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.