Florida High Tech Corridor Council (The Corridor) is an economic development initiative of three of the country’s largest research institutions – The University of Central Florida (UCF), The University of South Florida (USF) and The University of Florida (UF) – created to grow high-tech industry and innovation in a 23-county region.
Established in 1996 to help diversify Florida’s economy by enabling the growth of high tech industry, The Corridor is the product of a collaborative spirit rarely found in environments where economic development entities are naturally in competition. It emerged from the vision of UCF President, Emeritus John Hitt, and a partnership with USF’s Past President, Betty Castor, and grew to include the partnership of UF’s Past President, Bernie Machen. Through partnerships that support research, marketing, workforce and entrepreneurship, its founders believed The Corridor could transform the region and state’s economic landscape to ensure long-term prosperity. They were right.
Today, led by current presidents of the three universities who serve as Council co-chairs – UCF President, Dale Whittaker, USF President, Judy Genshaft, and UF President, Kent Fuchs – it continues to exemplify the motto: “Leave your logos and your egos at the door.”
Its cornerstone Matching Grants Research Program fosters relationships between the universities and high tech industry, engaging dozens of companies from across the region every year in the development of commercially applicable technologies. Research grants have benefited more than 370 companies working alongside more than 400 faculty members and 2,900 students – many of whom went on to work for their industry research partners. With matches of corporate cash and in-kind investments, Corridor funds have generated over $1 billion in downstream impacts.
Perhaps more meaningful than economic impacts, however, is the program’s impact on thousands of lives through resulting breakthroughs. For example, The Corridor facilitated partnerships for Sanford’s .decimal with researchers from UCF and UF who helped the company refine its cancer treatment devices, which have now served over 67,000 patients.
The Corridor has also touched thousands in its efforts to strengthen the talent pipeline. Its educational program, stemCONNECT, has reached over 5,000 middle school and high school students with virtual demonstrations by experts in various high tech careers. Additionally, its Talent Forum annually brings together university career center directors from around the country and industry professionals to establish relationships for the ongoing exchange of job leads and talent referrals.
The Corridor also fosters the growth of new business opportunities as a major supporter of the Florida Virtual Entrepreneur Center, an online directory of business resources and community of over 600 entrepreneurs across Florida, as well as incubation programs at its three universities, which annually rank among the nation’s best.
A proven breeding ground for innovation, The Corridor has been recognized by two U.S. presidents and numerous scientific and economic development organizations. The International Economic Development Council named The Corridor as “the best example in the world for what they do.” Its three research institutions continually rank among the top 100 universities worldwide granted U.S. utility patents.