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What’s in a Name? Osceola’s Advanced Manufacturing Consortium Now Called BRIDG

A bold future for manufacturing new technologies will be celebrated next month with the official ribbon cutting for one of the most advanced fabrication labs in the world.

The BRIDG (Bridging the Innovation to Development Gap) design center at NeoCity, located across from Osceola Heritage Park, offers partners and others the opportunity to share equipment and conduct research needed to profitably access the next-generation sensor economy.

BRIDG, an acronym that captures the central mission of the innovative technology collective – “Bridging the Innovation Development Gap,” is led by Osceola County, the University of Central Florida and the Florida High Tech Corridor Council (known as The Corridor.)

Since it launched in 2014, the consortium, formerly known as the International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research (ICAMR),  has provided a platform for advanced manufacturing development to “bridge the gap” between advanced research at Florida’s universities or industry innovators and cost-competitive manufacturing of new products tied to connected devices and the Internet of Things.

“We’re entering a new phase of this project that will transform Osceola County and Florida’s economy, giving us a competitive advantage over advanced, nano-scale manufacturing centers around the globe, and our new identity reflects that,” said Chester Kennedy, CEO for BRIDG.

Its partners now range from a Belgium-based leading international hub in nano-electronics and digital technology to a home-grown photonics and smart sensor developer.

In January, leaders announced the new name for the consortium. On April 13, a ribbon cutting will give guests the opportunity to celebrate what for many represents a bold future for Central Florida with the promise of new clean manufacturing and related jobs.

The 109,000-square-foot facility will be one of the most advanced fabrication labs in the world, where the scale of manufacturing conducted can be described as 1/1000th of the diameter of the average human hair.

The building includes environmental considerations reducing the number of measureable particles in the clean room from one million to one while maintaining absolute temperature and humidity control

In addition to a new name for the consortium, Osceola County has renamed the 500-acre, master planned site where the consortium is headquartered from the Osceola Tech Farm to NeoCity. Osceola County leaders say the name signals a new horizon for the region’s high-tech economy, and the site will be more than a traditional research park with its community connections and surrounding natural landscape.

“The global high-tech spotlight is shining on us as we change the face of Florida’s economy – putting us at the forefront of the next generation of nano-scale, micro-electronics,” said Osceola Commission Chairman Brandon Arrington. “None of this would have been possible without unanimous support of this Osceola County Commission, which has had the vision and foresight to make the commitment to fund this journey.”

The project has garnered widespread support.

State lawmakers approved $15 million toward the project last spring, and, in a major announcement in July, Belgian nanotechnology firm imec announced its partnership and plans to build its research and development design center at NeoCity, in collaboration with BRIDG. The company’s new U.S. headquarters will focus on photonics and high-speed electronics integrated circuits.

“With our local and global partners, we will create new solutions and economies of scale to transform the smart sensor industry, while diversifying the economy to lift our community,” said Dale Whittaker, UCF Provost and Executive Vice President. “That’s what happens when you bring together the best minds from the research labs and manufacturing centers with future-focused government leaders.”

Other major partners include Harris Corporation, Argonne National Laboratories, Kissimmee-based Photon-X, Florida International University, University of South Florida and University of Florida among others.

“This project is another demonstration of the power of partnerships, as almost from the start people and organizations have raised their hands and opened their wallets – even before being asked – to join the founders in a venture we all know will create jobs and amazing new technology,” said Randy Berridge, president of The Corridor.

The ribbon cutting will be held at 10 a.m. on April 13 at BRIDG headquarters. For more information, contact the Osceola County Office of Community Outreach and Public Information at 407-742-0100.