This week in the Orlando region, we reflect on the acknowledgement of the newest national holiday, Junteenth, and we celebrate a game-changing donation to one of the nation’s largest universities. Read these stories and more in this week’s Weekly Tech Round Up.

Featured Headlines | Upcoming Events | News from the Orlando Region

Message from the Orlando Tech Council Chair

Happy Friday, all.  

This week, the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act that received overwhelming bi-partisan support in Congress was signed into law. This holiday commemorates the end of slavery of African Americans in the United States and is an important time to reflect on the meaning of our history in this nation. That awareness then enables us to make meaningful change for our future and educates some of our own efforts towards diversity, inclusion and equity.  

In local news – next week we launch our partnership with Orlando Inno and we are very excited about the potential there. This initiative will bring unprecedented visibility to the region’s tech and innovation stories, companies and resources. I would personally like to extend a big thank you to the Orlando Business Journal and Inno team for bringing this opportunity to the Orlando region. You can read more about the partnership in the headlines below.

And speaking of stories, did you hear the incredible news with our very own Knights? This week, UCF announced it has received the largest philanthropic gift in its history. MacKenzie Scott and her husband Dan Jewett announced a $40 million gift that, according to UCF, “will strengthen the university’s focus on fostering social mobility while developing the skilled talent needed to advance industry across our state and beyond.” This is a game-changing donation, and we are thrilled to see the intent of this gift focused on skill development for social mobility. I cannot wait to see the impact of this moment.  

The Orlando Tech Council is gaining strength with new members joining every month and new initiatives being launched. If you are a tech leader or tech community leader and not yet a member, reach out to us. If you are a member, ask about our committees so you can contribute to the impact of this Council. We are making great progress, and new opportunities abound. 

Stay tuned for more news, events, and ways to connect with the Orlando region’s tech and innovation economy. Also, feel free to share this newsletter with friends and colleagues who can get on our mailing list here

Rajiv Menon 
Founder/CEO, Informulate
Orlando Tech Council Chair 

Town Hall: Race and Reform in Central Florida

This Saturday, June 19 at 7 p.m., the Orlando Economic Partnership has partnered with WFTV Channel 9 to host a one-hour special at 7 p.m. on Juneteenth titled “Race and Reform in Central Florida” to further our community’s efforts. Featuring regional leaders from the public and private sector, the special will delve into the racial challenges in our community, reflect on the past and present and outline best practices to advance diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. Click here for more information on how to watch


New ‘Orlando Inno’ media platform showcases the region’s Innovation Economy 

In Partnership with the Orlando Business Journal, the Orlando Tech Council and other Founding Partners announce the launch of Orlando Inno, a new media platform focused on amplifying the stories of the startups, growth, technology and innovation that fuel our region’s innovation economy.  
As part of the national American Inno network, Orlando Inno will serve as a definitive source for the people and businesses driving and shaping the future of the Orlando region’s economy, providing profiles, news, analysis, resources, events, careers, data and more. Subscribers will have access to “The Beat,” a free, twice-a-week comprehensive newsletter focused on local startups, growth, technology and innovation, delivering to readers authoritative editorial, engaging meetup opportunities and pitch events to help them stay abreast of and connect with the ecosystems top entrepreneurs, executives, investors and stakeholders. Read more here.

Thriving tech hubs have these 5 things. Here’s how Orlando compares.

The purpose of this discussion really revolves around the reality that the major tech hubs of the past decade are losing their magnetism, leaving an opportunity for emerging markets like the Orlando region to lure and retain talent, companies and capital. The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation President Robert Atkinson recently spoke with the Business Journal about the key factors that help a tech hub thrive. They include a combination of academic, infrastructure and cultural attributes.  

So how does the Orlando region fair? The article breaks it all down according to research universities, airports, urban living and schools. According to the article we nail it with our airport but all other categories left room for improvement. Is it just that the quality of life here is isolated to pockets like downtown Orlando and Winter Park or is it more a perception issue that, until you live here, you just don’t quite know the half of it?  Read more here.

UCF charges on with big announcements

This week, UCF announced it received the largest philanthropic gift in its history. MacKenzie Scott announced a $40 million gift that, according to UCF, “will strengthen the university’s focus on fostering social mobility while developing the skilled talent needed to advance industry across our state and beyond.” Previously, Scott announced a total of $2.7 billion that would be donated to 286 “high-impact organizations in… communities that have been historically underfunded and overlooked.” Read more about the gift here

More big news for UCF comes by way of a statistic: the university was ranked No. 25 among public universities in the nation and 60 in the world for producing patents, with 46 patents secured in 2020. Elizabeth Klonoff, vice president for Research at UCF states, “Patents is one measure of our growth and impact… Doing our part means we benefit the local community and the society at large by contributing to technological advancements that improve people’s lives and drive the economy.” Read more here

Sure to assist in securing additional patents is UCF’s new Dean of the College of Optics and Photonics, David Hagan. He has been with UCF since 1987, is a Pegasus Professor, and previously served as the college’s interim dean and associate dean for academic programs. Hagan “will direct efforts to advance the college’s world-class excellence in optics, lasers and photonics, particularly in research, education and industry partnerships.” Read more here.  

Orlando region receives top rankings for video game jobs and gaming environment 

In a new study from WalletHub, the Orlando region received high marks across a number of rankings related to overall gaming environment. Taking into account a number of different factors, the Orlando region was named the No. 5 best city overall for gamers out of 100 cities. Irvine, Austin, San Francisco and Seattle round out the top five. Additional accolades received include the No. 3 spot for overall gaming environment and No. 6 ranking for gamer and developer opportunities. Read more here

AVT Simulation’s new offices support MS&T collaboration

Homegrown tech company AVT Simulation recently announced its expansion into a new ‘Collaboration’ building located in the Central Florida Research Park. The firm’s vision for the new facility is to act as a bridge between government and industry, where Team Orlando, private industry and government contractors can come together to deliver innovative training systems. Its proximity to UCF’s School of Modeling, Simulation and Training allows the firm to collaborate with the university and other regional organizations to offer specialized programs to prepare the future pipeline of Orlando’s MS&T workforce. Founded in Orlando in 1998, AVT Simulation’s steady growth and success can be directly attributed to the region’s robust and collaborative modelling, simulation and training ecosystem as well as the deep pool of 38,000+ high-skilled tech workers who call Orlando home. Please join me in congratulating AVT on its new offices and you can read more about why Orlando is the secret to AVT’s success here.

Save the Date | Upcoming Events

Events for the Weeks of June 21

Monday, June 21
5 p.m. – Reach – Next-Level Your Website
7 p.m. – ODevs – June Virtual Meetup
7 p.m. – General Assembly – Marketing Week | Building Brands People Love

Tuesday, June 22
5 a.m. – General Assembly – Roadmap to Scaling Your Business
10 a.m. – SBDC at UCF – Being a Better Leader: Developing Yourself and Your Team for Success
1 p.m. – General Assembly – Marketing Week | The Medium is The Message
4:30 p.m. – Synapse – Successful DEI Initiatives in Action: A Community Conversation

Wednesday, June 23
9 a.m. – 2021 Serious Play Conference
9 a.m. – 1 Million Cups
11 p.m. – General Assembly – Better Business for a Better World

Thursday, June 24
9 a.m. – 2021 Serious Play Conference
1 p.m. – Legion Capital – Webinar with J. Bradley Hilton to discuss the future of Technology & Investing

Friday, June 25
9 a.m. – 2021 Serious Play Conference

Events on the Horizon

June 26 – Black Orlando Tech – BOT Tech Startup Series Begins
June 30 – Upsurge Florida – Inside the Investor’s Mind
June 30 – VRARA – The Future of the Digital Immersive Enterprise
June 30 – Tradewind Regional Summit- Orlando MS&T Industry Day
June 30 – SBDC at UCF – Government Contracting Proposals: Pricing to Win
July 13 – SBDC at UCF – Embracing Change: How to Pivot Your Business in Changing Times
August 4-25 – Foundation for Orlando’s Future – SKILLFUL® Talent Series presented by JPMorgan Chase
August 17 – GrowFL – East Central Florida Finalist Celebration
August 19 – Orlando Regional Chamber – All Women Empowered (AWE) Impact Forum | SAVE THE DATE
September 16 – GrowFL – East Central Florida Chapter Membership Mixer
October 15 – Synapse Orlando
October 15-17 – Creative City Project – Immerse
October 22 – GrowFL – Statewide Membership Meeting

ICYMI | News from the Orlando Region

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The Orlando Tech Council is composed of private industry, resource organizations and public partners that work to develop new programs with the core objectives: strengthen the Orlando region’s innovation resources, create new opportunities for companies to scale, and to amplify the region’s success stories, raising the global profile of Orlando as a leading community for entrepreneurship and innovation.

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Special thanks to our Orlando Tech Council Members