The most versatile microelectronics manufacturing and research facility in the world is less than twenty minutes from the Orlando International Airport. Located in Osceola County, Fla., BRIDG provides more than 109,000 square feet of lab and office space for researchers to develop the next generation of smart sensors, photonics, and optics that connect the world through the Internet of Things (loT). That connection will change the way we live and will help solve some of the planet’s biggest problems.

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BRIDG Facility in Osceola County, Fla. Photo credit: SEAMUS PAYNE / SKANSKA

To get there, companies must test technology in a specialty controlled environment. BRIDG’s facilities, which will include a vibration and particle free cleanroom even better than Class 1,000, are unique and among just a handful of advanced manufacturing facilities of its kind in the world.

There’s a sophisticated process associated with manufacturing sensors and photonics devices. We’re providing the perfect infrastructure for advanced manufacturing companies to be successful.

Chester Kennedy, CEO of BRIDG

Kennedy says BRIDG will foster collaboration among government, universities and industry and allow researchers to develop tools and processes in an environment where technology can be tested before it goes into mass production. “The key is allowing industry to solve issues together,” he adds.

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BRIDG’s partners include Osceola County Government, the University of Central Florida, the Florida High Tech Corridor Council, Enterprise Florida, the State of Florida and the Orlando Economic Partnership as well as Harris Corporation, Photon-X, PhotonDelta, Argonne National Laboratory, Aurora Semiconductor, BrainPort and imec, the world-leading nanoelectronics research center.

“We’re setting up a design center [co-located with BRIDG], in fact, it’s our first photonics design center in the U.S.,” says Luc Van Den Hove, imec President and CEO. 

The design center will allow experts to work together and synthesize products while breaking down the barriers that often stop innovation in its tracks. It also puts BRIDG in a strong strategic position to pursue federal contracts and attract other major industry players who are among the most well-regarded institutions in the world. A significant contract was awarded in 2016 giving BRIDG, UCF and MIT the ability to work on a multi-million dollar Department of Defense initiative to create smart fiber technology for military and commercial applications.

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Clean room space in the BRIDG facility. Photo credit: SEAMUS PAYNE / SKANSKA

Kennedy stresses BRIDG’s development will continue to evolve over the next several decades and represents a long-term investment in the region’s economic infrastructure. He says BRIDG will serve as a catalyst for transformational economic growth impacting the entire Orlando regional economy. 

“We’re only a few exits down the Florida Turnpike, so Lake County is well positioned to benefit from BRIDG,” says Robert Chandler, director of economic growth for Lake County. “We’re doing a lot to keep up with the demand in technology-based jobs, and with BRIDG, the demand is only going to grow exponentially.”

The impact is already being seen in the region’s four school districts where STEM programs have been incorporated into primary schools, starting as early as kindergarten. The programs are helping to prepare students for higher-level courses such as those now being offered at Valencia College’s Advanced Manufacturing Training Center, Lake Technical College, and at the College of Optics & Photonics at the University of Central Florida.

“BRIDG represents one of the most transformational initiatives this region has ever seen,” says Kennedy. “The positive impacts will be felt for generations to come. It will enhance economic and job growth, and it will solidify this region as a true research and development hub.”