MetaCenter Global Week needed – and received – city, county buy-in

Make no mistake about the upcoming MetaCenter Global Week in downtown Orlando.

It has a chance to transform the city’s reputation as a tech hub, providing a spotlight on projects being built in tech here.

It’s a chance to showcase the medical technology in Lake Nona alongside the gaming scene downtown.

In addition, there will be nods to the huge defense cluster that thrives near the University of Central Florida.

But to do that, you need all major entities, including public and private, to be on the same page.

“It’s bringing in an element of global attention to our city,” said Charlie Lewis, an Innovate Orlando board member who has been one of the leaders in bringing MetaCenter Global Week to life. “But to do that, you need buy-in from the city and county so we can execute and show the highlights as they want them to be shown.”

MetaCenter Global Week will take over downtown Orlando from Oct. 17-19, with conferences, trade shows, competitions and entertainment all packed into a single, dayslong event. It’s a joint program that incorporates this year’s version of Synapse Orlando and the Immerse Global Summit.

An All-Star lineup

Professionals from companies like Meta, Google, Sony, Unity and Lockheed Martin have already come on board to participate.

Orange County officials said one goal for the week is to change the conversation about what Orlando offers.

“They want innovation to be a part of the county’s narrative,” Lewis said. “We want to show off what we have and roll out the red carpet for people coming in on a global scale.”

Orange County Chief Innovation and Emerging Technologies Officer Simone Babb said the event promotes a unifying initiative around technology.

She said a partnership between the county, the City of Orlando and the Orlando Economic Partnership can both attract and retain talent. In addition, it could bring resources and stakeholders together to push toward the same goal. 

That is, building the region into a recognized technology hub.

“I value the synergistic energy and passion in our community around technology,” said Babb, recently appointed to a role on the Innovate Orlando board. “Together, we can shape the direction and footprint toward being a recognized and respected tech and innovation hub. (That would) unlock a world of fresh opportunities to foster entrepreneurship in Orange County.”

The committee spearheaded the mapping and connecting of various stakeholder groups to ensure a vibrant and thriving ecosystem, she said.

“This is of huge value to solving community challenges together and in seeing positive results and impact over time,” she said. “We recognize the importance of lining up the talent pipeline and the valuable roles that various groups serve to benefit our community’s focus on technology and innovation.”

Business leaders buying in

Waymon Armstrong has been part of the Orlando tech community for more than two decades.

His company, Engineering and Computer Simulations, has been a sponsor of Synapse.

Armstrong, meanwhile, has been a frequent attender, speaker and presenter since it rolled out in Orlando in 2019.

“It’s important to support events, such as MetaCenter Global Week, to promote our MS&T industry,” he said. “We are looking forward to watching its ongoing success and continuing to learn from it.”

MetaCenter Global Week appears to be something of an informal nod to the popular variety shows of the past.

The format is part business conference, part entertainment showcase and part concert series.

As the week has neared, organizers have started to trickle out information about what to expect.

For instance, they announced this week a set by 29-yearo-old Belgian DJ Lost Frequencies as the week’s closer, along with a concert by local musicians and a scavenger hunt downtown.

But the first hurdle was securing support from the city and county by going directly to them and selling their vision.“We wanted a well rounded board, with representation from institutional businesses like EA, other developers, community leaders and the public sector,” Lewis said. “We asked ourselves, ‘How does technology and innovation impact all citizens of Orange County and Orlando?”