Central Florida lands grant, key designation from NSF

Central Florida’s effort to grow as a center for excellence in sensors received a huge boost Monday as the U.S. National Science Foundation named it as one of 10 regional innovation engines.

The region received the title Central Florida Semiconductor Innovation Engine.

The designation means $15 million in federal funding during the next two years.

State and local governments, along with other regional agencies, should match funds.

Kissimmee-based BRIDG served as the lead organization for the award.

The partners involved in the NSF grant.

“We look forward to working closely with our partners in the years to come to foster and grow an inclusive regional semiconductor manufacturing, advanced packaging and microelectronics systems industrial base together,” BRIDG CTO and interim president John Allgair said.

The NSF could potentially invest nearly $1.6 billion during the next 10 years into these innovation engines.

The engines span the country and cover a wide range of industries, including textiles, energy and agriculture.

The Central Florida region specializes in sensors that power emerging technologies like smartphones and autonomous driving.

“The University of Central Florida is committed to driving innovation and supporting the success of the nation’s semiconductor industry,” said Grace Bochenek, director of UCF’s School of Modeling, Simulation and Training, in the press release. “Ongoing semiconductor research at UCF is very interdisciplinary with a focus in microelectromechanical systems and micro-fabrication facilities that include semiconductor chip manufacturing as well as other areas. These efforts, along with our excellence in modeling, simulation and digital twin technologies will accelerate that future.”

The CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 created the NSF Engine program.

Osceola County Commission Chair Cheryl Grieb said the award will push the region forward.

“This is just the latest testament to a future where innovation knows no bounds,” she said. “It cements our path toward making Osceola County a hub for groundbreaking research, technological advancement and workforce development.”

The team could potentially receive up to $160 million in the next 10 years.