Each year, millions of people experience the excitement and adventure of being immersed in a new, technologically created alternative reality when they enter Orlando’s world-renowned theme parks. The highly-skilled creative thinking that wows visitors is also transforming other cutting-edge industries that are diversifying and redefining Orlando’s economy. If you stop to think about it, the same type of technology that powers a Harry Potter ride, for example, trains our military men and women, our doctors and nurses, and our first responders.
So while people know Orlando as one of the world’s top tourism and convention destinations, the region is also a hotspot for tech with strongholds in modeling, simulation and training; film and digital media; optics and photonics and more.
The region’s ever-growing class of creative technologists are bringing Orlando global recognition as a place to build, a place to play; a vibrant, inclusive community to call home, and an inspiring place to work.
This diversity is represented by an explosion of growth in the local startup community, with a range of skillful experts finding new ways to use technology. “We have startup incubators, we have venture capitalists, and we have angel investors. We’re investing back into the community, backing entrepreneurs, making this a fantastic place to build a company,” says Ted Murphy, founder of local company IZEA.
Some of these startups have received national attention on the show Shark Tank, including TROBO, a talking plush robot with a mobile app component that reads stories to young children. TROBO, like many other small businesses in Orlando, has its roots in interactive entertainment. Its creators, Jeremy Scheinberg and Chris Harden, started as engineers at Universal Orlando and EA Sports.
Innovation in experiential technology using digital and physical elements is present in one of the world’s largest clusters of modeling and simulation, centered in Orlando’s Research Park. These modeling and simulation companies are leading advancements in medical and military research using cutting-edge technology.
This specialization is supported by the talent being developed at local educational institutions. As Dan Baker, Topps Director of Product Development, says, “Orlando has been growing in recent years as a technology center, and we’ve been able to find great talent here to develop the latest versions of our apps.”
Two of the region’s educational institutions are on the forefront of game development and ranked among the top in the country for video game, software, and application design - Full Sail University and the University of Central Florida with its FIEA master’s degree program.
Companies will have even better access to talent with the arrival of the UCF downtown campus, set to open in the urban core of downtown Orlando in 2019. The campus will serve as an anchor of the planned Creative Village, a 68acre mixed-use, transit oriented, urban infill neighborhood with high-tech, digital media and creative companies and a diverse mix of students, employees and residents.
The 15-acre campus will serve approximately 7,500 students from UCF as well as Valencia College. “We’re pleased to be a part of this exciting new project in downtown Orlando, not just for our students and the future of the city, but for the people who live and work there,” says Valencia College President Sandy Shugart.
Designed using principles of New Urbanism, Creative Village is expected to have a strong impact on the culture of the region with its walkable neighborhoods, shopping, recreation and other accessible amenities.
Orlando is a region of strong partnerships, scientific exploration and discovery, and creative development. It is a city known around the world. A city where people can build their dreams on a solid foundation of resources and community support.