Central Florida Roundup
Marc Koska, the inventor of single-use syringes, expands focus to prefilled injection devices
Moving the Needle
The inventor of a single-use syringe turns his attention to prefilled injection devices.
In the 1980s, Marc Koska invented a single-use syringe called the K1 that breaks if anyone attempts to refill and reuse it. Adoption was slow, but since it was introduced, Koska’s syringe and others like it have saved millions of lives by preventing the spread HIV, hepatitis and other pathogens.
Today, the British inventor (now co-founder of a Connecticut-based company called ApiJect) is promoting a different type of injection device — a prefilled, single-use, plastic injector that delivers a vaccine or medication to a patient with a squeeze.
ApiJect’s injectors are manufactured using what’s known as a blow-fill-seal method. Molten plastic resin is poured into a mold, filled with liquid medication and sealed in one continuous process.
As it awaits FDA approval, ApiJect has opened a 16,000-sq.-ft. technology development center in Oakland, on the outskirts of Orlando, where it will collaborate with pharmaceutical and biotech companies and be able to tap into engineering talent at the University of Central Florida.
Jay Walker, a co-founder and CEO of ApiJect, says production of the injectors can be scaled up quickly in the event of a pandemic or other emergency. “All you need is pharma graded plastic resin, a needle hub and you’re ready to go,” says Walker, who is best known as a co-founder of Priceline. He says ApiJect will double its Florida footprint by the end of the year.
- Patrick Space Force Base in Brevard County is one of six U.S. bases under consideration to be the eventual home for the Space Force’s Training and Readiness Command headquarters, or STARCOM, which will prepare warfighters for combat operations in space.
- Embraer is adding more than 150 positions — including technicians, painters, inspectors and engineers — at its Melbourne facility, which is headquarters for the company’s executive jets unit.
- Fairwinds Credit Union completed its acquisition of Oviedo-based Citizens Bank of Florida, growing Fairwinds’ assets to more than $4.6 billion, boosting its commercial portfolio to $602 million and nearly doubling the credit union’s number of commercial bankers. Fairwinds is acquiring six Citizens Bank branches as part of the deal and will retain all current Citizens Bank employees. In other news, the credit union’s philanthropic arm, the Fairwinds Foundation, recently gave $250,000 to 12 community organizations in Central Florida.
- Walt Disney World Resort is planning to build more than 1,300 attainable housing units on 80 acres it owns near the Flamingo Crossings Town Center in west Orange County. Disney employees as well as the general public will be able to apply to live in the development.
- Alex Karakhanian, a Miami developer with a portfolio of commercial properties around Miami’s urban core neighborhoods and Wynwood, purchased an acre along North Orange Avenue on the cusp of downtown Orlando and the Central Business District, where he plans to build a mixed-use project.
- The city of Sanford is developing a master plan to redesign its downtown waterfront marina on Lake Monroe. An inspection report issued last year found the docks and facilities were outdated and in disrepair.
- Universal Engineering Sciences, a national engineering and consulting company headquartered in Orlando, appointed David Witsken CEO. He was previously president of industrial, energy and commercial businesses for BrandSafway, a Georgia-based provider of scaffolding and access systems.
- Orlando Health tapped Leslie Flake to be CFO, replacing Bernadette Spong, who is retiring. Flake was most recently senior vice president of finance at Spectrum Health, a non-profit hospital system in Grand Rapids, Mich. Also, Orlando Health is developing a freestanding rehabilitation facility in west Orange County that will have 54 in-patient beds in private rooms.
- AdventHealth opened a five-story, in-patient building with 80 private rooms — a $229.5-million expansion — on its hospital campus in Winter Garden.
- Goodwill Industries of Central Florida launched a prepaid tuition program that will cover the cost of a college or vocational school for its employees. Both full- and part-time employees with at least 90 days of continuous employment are eligible to have 100% of their tuition, books and fees covered in advance if they are enrolled at a public college or university or accredited technical college or trade school. They must maintain at least a C or higher in their courses.
- Eastern Florida State College is planning to invest $87 million — its largest investment ever — in academic buildings, student housing and other improvements on its Cocoa campus. Projects will include an advanced technologies building to house aerospace and engineering projects, a STEM building with science classrooms and labs, oncampus apartment units that can accommodate 192 students, renovations of the college’s Health Science Center and a replacement of the school’s planetarium, which has been closed since it was damaged by Hurricane Irma in 2017. The school is asking the Legislature for funding.
- Orlando’s hotel industry is projected to finish this year with business travel revenue totaling $2.06 billion — 26% less than pre-pandemic levels in 2019, according to a report by Kalibri Labs commissioned by the American Hotel and Lodging Association.
- Hoverfly Technologies, a startup that makes tethered power drone systems, is adding 50 positions to its staff of 60. The firm — a graduate of University of Central Florida’s Business Incubation Program — recently moved its headquarters to a 20,000-sq.-ft. building in Sanford.
- PGAV Destinations — a St. Louis-based company that designs attractions, exhibits and experiences for zoos, aquariums, theme parks and other clients — is opening a design studio in Orlando.
The Orange County Commission voted in favor of putting a proposed penny sales tax for transportation on the November 2022 ballot.