UCF tech groups, Black Orlando Tech, RALLY, Rollins land Orange County grants

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Note: This is the first in a series of posts that takes a closer look at the funding approvals passed by Orange County this week. In future posts, we will highlight the organizations and programs that landed money.

UCF programs and initiatives landed the majority of nearly $2 million in Orange County money meant to diversify the region’s economy by supporting entrepreneurial and tech-related efforts.

Three UCF Research Foundation priorities, UCF’s StarterStudio and its Veterans Entrepreneurship Initiative combined for more than $1.4 million in grants.

Black Orlando Tech, the social entrepreneurship accelerator Rally and Rollins College’s business program also landed grants.

Economic Development Administrator Eric Ushkowitz said in a letter that the efforts could accelerate the tech sector’s growth.

Ushkowitz said in a letter that the programs support “economic strategies designed to help create and grow entrepreneurial activity and small business growth” here.

UCF Research Foundation landed the largest award of $630,000.

That grant will fund an effort to move the region’s economy away from an overreliance on hotels and tourism. The coronavirus pandemic crushed those two industries last year.

As part of the agreement, the foundation will develop and promote small tech businesses and entrepreneurs in Central Florida.

UCF runs several small business incubation sites and programs on campuses across the region.

The money will be used to hire and retain consultants in the high-tech economic development sector.

Grant requirements

Among the charges, according to the application for the funding:

  • Define at least two industry cluster ecosystems from a predetermined group of seven sectors (life sciences, energy and environmental sciences, gaming, learning sciences, event planning, telecom and aerospace).
  • Launch an online tool to match Fortune 500 companies with Central Florida organizations.
  • Develop a PR and mass marketing plan with the goal of reaching a global audience for the clusters.
  • Develop a strategy to make the plan sustainable.

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