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Innovation & Technology
Home to three public universities, Northwest Florida is a natural catalyst for high-level innovation and technological transformation.
Taking shape across the region:
• Researchers at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering are working with NASA to develop a hybrid electric system powered by hydrogen using ambient air or concentrated oxygen to help reduce or eliminate aviation emissions. Part of NASA’s University Leadership Initiative, the program provides opportunities for university-led teams to conduct research supporting the space agency’s goals.
• Following the successful 2020 launch of its national cybersecurity workforce development program — CyberSkills2Work — the University of West Florida has received a $3-million grant extension from the National Security Agency to expand the program with the goal of preparing and placing 1,650 trained cybersecurity professionals within the next two years.
• North Florida Innovation Labs broke ground in June 2022 on its new research incubator. Located in the Innovation Park corridor — home to several high-tech companies as well as the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering and the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory — the 40,000-sq.-ft. building will have 31 labs and 20 offices as well as coworking spaces and conference rooms. FSU made a $5.6 million commitment to the incubator earlier this year.
KEY PLAYERS: AppRiver, Gulf Breeze; Bit-Wizards, Fort Walton Beach; Digital Boardwalk, Pensacola; Hixardt, Pensacola
Florida’s capital city, Tallahassee, owns and operates the 4th-largest municipal electric service in Florida and the 22nd largest in the U.S., serving 122,000+ residential and commercial customers. It’s been recognized by the American Public Power Association as having the best public utility in the nation, and Tallahassee has no intention of resting on its laurels. This city already has two solar facilities integrated into its system and plans to convert all city offices, service facilities, light-duty vehicles and fixed route buses to renewable energy over the next decade. It won’t be easy or quick, but this city is determined. Long-range plans call for providing customers with 100% clean, renewable energy by 2050.
New and improved facilities include:
• Baptist Health Care’s $615-million, 50-acre campus in Pensacola on track to open in early 2023. The 264-bed hospital is the single largest and most expensive health facility in Northwest Florida.
• PanCare of Florida continuing to grow its health care services for underserved patients. In June 2022, the nonprofit organization broke ground on a full-service pharmacy in Panama City. Next up: a laboratory and women’s health center.
• Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center adding more than 13,000 square feet to its main facility and another 6,000 square feet to its diagnostic and rehabilitation center in Panama City.
• Site preparation underway for construction of Panama City Beach’s first full-service hospital, a joint venture between Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, St. Joe Company and the Florida State University College of Medicine with 100 rooms, including doctors’ offices and an urgent care facility. Estimated completion: 2024.