This week’s Orlando Profiles in Tech features Andrea Wesser-Brawner, Chief Innovation & Emerging Technologies Officer with Orange County Government.

The Orlando innovation ecosystem is rich with high-caliber tech talent and boundary-pushing entrepreneurs. In an effort to foster a more connected community, the Orlando Tech Council presents “Profiles in Tech,” a new series highlighting the region’s top executives, innovators and movers and shakers whose ideas and companies are changing the world right from our own backyard.

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This week’s Orlando Profiles in Tech features Andrea Wesser-Brawner, Chief Innovation & Emerging Technologies Officer with Orange County Government. Learn about how her dream of becoming an Imagineer brought her to Orlando and all of the unique assets that make our region unique.

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Have you experienced an “only in Orlando” moment? If so, what was it?    

All the time, but my favorite is probably this picture of my daughter – Princess Anna and Star Wars droids.

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What brought you to the Orlando region? What’s kept you here?  

I wanted to be an Imagineer for Disney so I enrolled in Mechanical Engineering at UCF to get me there quick. The combination of great jobs/good pay/making a difference, the perks of paradise and a terrific “after-hours” lifestyle and the village of lifelong friends we have made is definitely what has kept us here for 21 years and counting.

What makes Orlando the right place for your business? How does being in Orlando contribute to your business success or personal growth?  

The region has a lot of ingredients to help businesses. I think a lot of smart, awesome, coach/mentor-first folks are here and, when coordinated, have led to many businesses thriving, especially in hard tech arenas. Our region birthed the space program, so we have an incredible amount of innovation, inspiration and motivation in one relatively small geographic area.

What makes the Orlando tech ecosystem unique?  

We have SUCH unique features compared to other global regions: UCF is extraordinary and has outstanding, commerciable faculty researchers; the region is indisputably the world’s best hub for experiential technologies; we have space exploration; we are 3D printing in novel materials; we’re home to the development of industry-leading photonic devices; we are the epicenter of DOD-led human performance expertise; we’re leaders in trauma recovery; we have ‘platinum-platter’ service and hospitality; people flock here for ecotourism and coastal conservation; we develop advanced turbines and other combined heat and power systems, just to name a few. All of this exists here while 75 million people come to visit our spot on Earth – there’s so many powerful qualities and assets to feature!

What’s one thing you wish Orlando had? What will it take to make that a reality?  

I wish our culture was to get out in the community, be more willing to share expertise/successes/failures – especially our accomplished business owners and professionals – acting as coaches and mentors as volunteers, etc. Our start-up entrepreneurs need it, our community’s youth need it, and new or further investments of money, time, and other resources would really help our community thrive!

If you had to describe to an out-of-town friend what it’s like to live, work, learn and play in Orlando, what would you say?  

Our natural wonders – bioluminescent lagoons, tube-rideable rivers, crystal clear springs, gorgeous beaches, incredible hikes – intermingled with affordable housing amongst these wonders – and truly unique assets resulting in remarkable career opportunities. Orlando is a wonderful place to live, work, learn and play in!.

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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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