MAJOR BUSINESS HAPPENINGS, DEVELOPMENTS AND ECONOMIC TRENDS IN ORLANDO
Orlando has become a hub for corporate division, association and U.S. operations headquarters. Science
Applications International Corporation (SAIC), Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Siemens Energy Inc.,
Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Americas, AAA, Darden Restaurants, HD Supply, L-3 Communications’ Advanced
Laser Systems Technology, Electronic Arts’ EA Tiburon, Ruth's Chris Steak House, the Amateur Athletic Union,
international simulation companies Adacel and Indra Systems’ U.S. operations all call Orlando home and praise
the region for everything from its strategic geographic location to established industry clusters to a young
Entrepreneur and tech start-ups are mounting. Much of this is thanks to the growing resources
at the University of Central Florida (UCF). Funding for research at this young, 50-year-old university has
already surpassed $100 million, and more than 200 patents have been issued in the past seven years. In 2009,
UCF moved up from seventh place to third in the nation for the strength and impact of its patents as ranked by
IEEE, the world's leading association for the advancement of technology.
Since its founding in 1999, the UCF Business Incubation Program (UCFBIP) has helped more than 300 emerging
companies (including over 130 current clients) create over $500 million in annual revenue and more than 3,200
new jobs with an average salary of $59,000. With eight opened current locations across 4 counties in Central
Florida, the Business Incubation Program is a collaboration in economic development between UCF; Orange,
Seminole, Lake, Osceola and Volusia counties; the cities of Orlando, Apopka, Sanford, St. Cloud, Winter
Springs; and the Florida High Tech Corridor Council. Orlando has been recognized as a top location for
entrepreneurs and is home to one of only two National Entrepreneur Centers located in the United States.
There is a strong international presence in Orlando. Mitsubishi and Siemens are recognizable
companies with a division located in Orlando. In addition, over 120 other foreign based companies are also here
from countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Germany and more. Among the leading, targeted trade
industries: aviation, biotech and telecom. The top countries Florida is exporting to: Brazil, Canada,
Venezuela, Mexico and Colombia.
Orlando is a recognized leader in simulation, laser and information technology industries.
Orlando is widely recognized as the largest cluster of modeling, simulation and training companies in the world
and the nation's military simulation training centers are based here.
Life science, biotech and medical technology industries are emerging. Orlando has made a $2
billion investment in life sciences in the region thanks to Lake Nona Medical City which consists of: the
University of Central Florida Health Sciences Campus, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, VA Medical
Center (2015) – future home to VHA National Simulation Center - SimLEARN, Nemours Children’s Hospital and the
University of Florida Research and Academic Center. By year 10, the life science cluster could create 30,000
jobs with $7.6 billion in economic impact.
In addition, also in Orlando is Florida Hospital’s Nicholson Center (training facility on minimally invasive
surgical techniques for surgeons from across the globe), as well as the Global Robotics Institute and the
Florida Hospital - Sanford-Burnham Translational Research Institute for Metabolism and Diabetes, a partnership
that serves as a bridge between basic discovery research and patient-oriented research.
Leading research and development work is coming out of UCF which includes an anthrax vaccine generated through
the genetic engineering of tobacco plants, stem cells used from bone marrow to help treat Alzheimer’s and a
protein to stop tumor cells from spreading. The area is also home to the headquarters of several national
pharmaceutical distributors and has a healthy number of medical technology companies that manufacture products
that deal with tendon repair, spinal implants, bladder control and more, as well as a company using cord blood
to help save lives.
Orlando is becoming a center for digital media. The breadth of the software, simulation and
entertainment industries here is fueling the growth of the digital media sector. Over 400 companies involved in
digital media call Orlando home, including Electronic Arts’ EA Tiburon, developer of EA SPORTS' Madden NFL
Football, one of the world’s top selling video games, among numerous other best-selling titles. To meet the
demands of an increasing workforce involved in digital media, there are several higher education institutes
offering specialized training in this industry, including the University of Central Florida’s Florida
Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA – a graduate-level training in the interactive entertainment/gaming
industry), Full Sail University, Valencia College, Seminole State College of Florida and the Digital Animation
and Visual Effects (DAVE) School, among others.
In downtown Orlando, “Creative Village” – an urban environment targeting creative industry companies and
workers – is taking shape. The project is centered around FIEA and the nationally-recognized east coast
operations of House of Moves – the only professional motion capture studio on the east coast with fully
integrated film, video and audio facilities.
Orlando companies are leading the way in homeland security. In addition to top defense
contracts obtained by Orlando’s Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Science Applications International
Corporation (SAIC) divisions, several home-grown companies are on the front lines of homeland security
initiatives for the nation. These companies’ business lines include simulation (Industrial Smoke and
Mirrors), land-mine detection (CyTerra Corp. – now part of L-3 Communications) and digital
forensics (I.D.E.A.L. Technology Corp. and Florida Law Enforcement Electronic Evidence Team at the
University of Central Florida).
Orlando has accumulated a wealth of the financial services industry. Leading companies such as
FIS and Fiserv, which create banking software used by financial institutions from across the globe, have
clustered in the region. In addition, major and independent banks are expanding, and related back office and
customer support centers such as Bank of New York are mounting.