Central Florida Roundup
The Orlando Economic Partnership has spun off its development efforts in the technology sector to create Innovate Orlando, a non-profit that will promote its MetaCenter concept. David Adelson, who served as the partnership’s chief innovation officer, will serve as Innovate Orlando’s CEO.
It’s the next step in the region’s efforts to define its capabilities in interactive entertainment; modeling, simulation and training; augmented reality; virtual reality; artificial intelligence; and the internet of things. A year ago, officials unveiled Orlando’s “digital twin” — an interactive map of 800 square miles of the region layered with data on companies, workforce and other community attributes to help visualize the region’s potential.
Daytona Beach-based Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is partnering with French startup Aura Aero on a program that will prepare pilots to fly its electric aircraft. The partnership is expected to create 20 jobs and internships for student pilots who will learn about “the Integral,” Aura Aero’s two-seater training aircraft with aerobatic capabilities. The company plans to launch operations at Embry-Riddle’s Research Park by 2024.
Wells Fargo is laying off 103 employees in Orlando as it closes a business unit in its consumer and small business banking division. Employees will receive severance benefits based upon their years of service with the bank, according to a WARN notice filed with the state.
Groveland, a small city 30 miles west of Orlando, has been designated a Dark Sky Community by the International Dark-Sky Association of Tucson, Ariz., which recognizes communities that promote and utilize environmentally responsible outdoor lighting. Groveland city leaders created a strategic plan and adopted a comprehensive dark-sky lighting ordinance that created standards for all exterior lighting and streetlights within city limits.
Seminole State College will expand and remodel its Altamonte Springs campus after receiving $4.7 million in state funding. Plans include the addition of a workforce building and remodeling an existing building to support student services on campus. The campus has been at capacity since it opened in 2008.
Amazon is building a $120-million satellite-processing facility at Space Florida’s Launch and Landing Facility at Kennedy Space Center to serve Project Kuiper, which is Amazon’s low-Earth orbit satelllite network. The project uses what was the principal facility for landing the Space Shuttle and is expected to be operational in early 2025.
Red 6, an Orlando company developing augmented reality-embedded training for fighter pilots, has raised $70 million in Series B financing to continue to build out its technology. The product allows pilots to train in AR-embedded fighter jets by putting pilots physically in the air while enhancing the pilot’s surroundings using an AR-capable helmet.
After years of developing successful unscripted television shows, John Ehrhard wants to make it easier for businesses and individuals to tell their own stories through video.
His Winter Garden-based startup, Orson, has been developing generative AI tools that automate a host of tasks in video storytelling, including conducting interviews and sprucing up footage by adding music, graphics and other elements.
The company recently announced that it has raised $3 million from private investors to enhance its technology.
Ehrhard is the founder of OAKZ Media, which has produced several documentaries and reality shows, including the television series Brooke Knows Best, which followed former pro wrestler Hulk Hogan’s daughter and her friends in Miami.
It was a personal project, however, that inspired him to launch Orson. “After starting to create heartfelt Mother’s Day videos with my children and documenting the life of my 96-yearold grandmother before her passing, I witnessed the profound impact of storytelling on everyday life,” he says. “It became clear that I needed to find a way to democratize this opportunity and make it accessible to everyone.”