OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – August 4, 2023 – The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) announced that NeoCity-based BRIDG is one of the 16 finalists for its prestigious Regional Innovation Engines competition. Established in accordance with the “CHIPS and Science Act,” the competition aims to foster innovation and collaborative technology-driven ecosystems across the nation.
BRIDG’s inclusion as a finalist underscores NeoCity’s potential to become a leading innovation hub. BRIDG is a not-for-profit, public-private partnership specializing in advanced system integration and packaging. NSF Engines will provide each awardee with approximately $15 million for the first two years, with the potential for up to $160 million over a 10-year period, subject to progress assessments.
“Being selected as a finalist and the only microelectronic semiconductor manufacturing-focused engine validates our regional coalition efforts to enable and advance the innovation ecosystem in Central Florida,” said Jim Vandevere, president of BRIDG. “As an NSF Engine, our region can leverage existing investments made to positively transform and catalyze NeoCity. We look forward to working with NSF and our partners during the final review process in hopes of receiving an NSF Engine award to help rebuild the manufacturing industrial base and serve as an advanced packaging hub for our nation.”
The program seeks to address key technology areas and societal and economic challenges by partnering with local and regional organizations. The partnerships will expand innovation capabilities and create inclusive technologydriven innovation hubs that will drive economic growth and address critical challenges.
“We take great pride in the impressive momentum of our collaborations at NeoCity, which have garnered recognition from esteemed institutions such as NSF, key industry players, as well as state and federal leaders,” said Osceola County Commission Chairwoman Viviana Janer. “Our strategic vision to cultivate fresh career prospects for our residents and establish Osceola County as a pivotal innovation hub is gradually being realized through the fusion of talent and resources from all our NeoCity partners. Award of the NSF Engine program will affirm these and elevate BRIDG’s status in advanced system integration and packaging.”
The proposal is joined by partners from Osceola County, Florida High Tech Corridor, imec, Orlando Economic Partnership, University of Central Florida, University of Florida, Valencia College, and CareerSource Central Florida.
“These NSF Engines finalists demonstrate strong promise to become emerging hubs of innovation for our nation. NSF Engines harness the talents and resources to advance our vision to create opportunities everywhere and enable innovation anywhere,” said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. “NSF welcomes regional and local organizations to reach out to these finalists and contribute their ideas, talent and resources to create vibrant innovation ecosystems all across our nation.”
Over the course of up to 10 years, each NSF Engine will progress through three phases: nascent, emergent, and growth. A successful NSF Engine will transform its region into a nationally renowned, self-sustaining, technology and innovation-driven economic hub.
NSF initially narrowed the proposals to 34 semifinalists, and after rigorous assessment, Osceola County emerged as one of the 16 finalists. Each finalist team will undergo interviews in person later this summer and fall to evaluate their adaptability to changing circumstances and their potential impact on regional innovation ecosystems.
The NSF Engines program, launched by NSF’s Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships (TIP), draws upon the nation’s science and technology research and development enterprise and regional-level resources. This initiative aims to catalyze robust partnerships, boost the economy in specific geographic regions, address societal challenges, enhance national competitiveness, and create high-wage jobs.
BRIDG’s potential as an NSF Engine finalist represents an exceptional opportunity for growth and advancement. The county’s constituents are encouraged to support the finalists by reinforcing their commitments to the proposed activities.
For more information about the NSF Engines program, please visit the official NSF Engines program website.
“Valencia College is a fully supportive partner in the NSF Engines program, and we are excited to be among the 16 finalists. Getting this award would be a significant investment in our community and the semiconductor initiative in NeoCity,” said Joe Battista, Vice President for Workforce, Career & Professional Education for Valencia College.
“I express my heartfelt gratitude to the virtual visit committee from NSF for recognizing and appreciating the innovative interconnect packaging technology developed by the team,” said Dr. Y.K. Yoon, professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Florida. “Their acknowledgement is a great honor and encouragement for our ongoing efforts. I also extend my sincere appreciation to the entire team for their outstanding teamwork and dedication in preparing for the visit. Their hard work and collaboration has been instrumental in showcasing the seamless integration of technology and regional economic development.”
“It is exciting Osceola County is a finalist for the U.S. National Science Foundation’s first-ever Regional Innovation Engines competition,” said Pam Nabors, president & CEO of CareerSource Central Florida. “CareerSource Central Florida is proud to partner alongside such innovative and mission-driven organizations to help increase awareness, trainings, and opportunities in the emerging semiconductor industry. This would allow growth in the advanced manufacturing sector across Central Florida and beyond, and will boost change and advancements in the economy, along with good paying jobs and careers.”
“We are honored to be one of the finalists for the NSF grant. Our regional coalition is the only finalist solely focused on semiconductor manufacturing,” said Tim Giuliani, president and CEO of the Orlando Economic Partnership. “Becoming an epicenter of semiconductor reshoring and advancement takes a big team, years of persistence and trusted partners. We have all of those ingredients here and we’re still just getting started.”
“With these economic engines, the NSF is addressing some of the most critical science and technology needs for our nation,” stated Dr. Grace Bochenek, director of School of Modeling, Simulation and Training at the University of Central Florida. “Within the NeoCity Semiconductor Technology Accelerator engine, the University of Central Florida plays an important role in advancing solutions through research and development to solve some of the nation’s most critical needs, in this case for the microelectronic semiconductor industry. Our history of working with government, industry, other universities and educational institutions provides the foundation for expanding and elevating a robust ecosystem.”
# # #
BRIDG is a not-for-profit, public-private partnership specializing in digital, RF, and photonics interposer technology development coupled with advanced packaging capabilities. As an ITAR-certified and DMEA trust-ready supplier, BRIDG offers R&D expertise and a 200mm microelectronics fabrication facility geared toward system miniaturization, device integration, hardware security, and product manufacturing key to aerospace, defense, automotive, telecommunications, medical, and the IoT/AI revolution. Supported by Osceola County, Florida High Tech Corridor Council, imec, Orlando Economic Partnership, TEL, SUSS, Siemens, and SkyWater Technology (Center for NeoVation operator), BRIDG provides the physical infrastructure and collaborative process to connect challenges and opportunities with solutions; “Bridging the Innovation Development Gap” making commercialization possible. Located at NeoCity BRIDG is centrally located 20 minutes from Orlando International Airport and within a mile of Florida’s Turnpike. www.GoBRIDG.com
Following the impacts of the Great Recession, Osceola County decided to make a long-term investment to create a 500-acre technology district, known as NeoCity to diversify its economy. Since then, Osceola County, and their regional partners, have invested over $273 million to make NeoCity the hub to Central Florida’s burgeoning semiconductor industry. NeoCity’s anchor building, the Center for Neovation, (total of 109,000 sq. ft) consisting of a 36,000 square ft. cleanroom, is one of the most technologically advanced manufacturing research centers in the western hemisphere, home to SkyWater Technology, imec USA, BRIDG, TEL, and SUSS MicroTec. The Osceola County School District’s NeoCity Academy, located next to the Center for Neovation, works with SkyWater, BRIDG, and imec USA to provide internships for the high school students to work in the fab. www.NeoCityFL.com
About Osceola County
Osceola County is the third fastest growing county in the nation. We anticipate the future before it happens, forever pioneers when it comes to planning communities and economies that work. We are a diverse community of lifelong residents and recent transplants, third-generation immigrants and new arrivals – all who flourish here because Osceola County brings you closer to what’s most important. Residents have the opportunity to lead a full life alongside people who share your aspirations for the future. We excel at turning the most ambitious ideas into reality. People here aren’t just hardworking. They are innovative, visionary, and entrepreneurial; they are the free-flowing energy that powers every industry in Central Florida. Our legacy is leading Central Florida by example – you can always count on Osceola to put you in the right place at the right time, so you can be first to what’s next. www.osceola.org
About CareerSource Central Florida
CareerSource Central Florida (CSCF) is Florida’s second largest regional workforce board that is state and federally funded with an annual operating budget of approximately $45 million. CSCF provides comprehensive services to connect career seekers and local businesses at no cost. Services include screening and hiring talent; employee training and education; paid internships and no cost skills training and education programs. In fiscal year 2021-2022, CSCF has served more than 39,500 career seekers and 3,500 businesses. The organization has placed more than 5,600 individuals in jobs and helped advance skills for more than 2,500 career seekers across Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake and Sumter Counties. For more information, visit www.CareerSourceCentralFlorida.com.
About the Florida High Tech Corridor
An economic development initiative of three research universities—the University of Central Florida, the University of South Florida, and the University of Florida—the Florida High Tech Corridor converges and catalyzes the capacity of high tech, innovative, and bright minds across a 23-county region to generate a global ripple effect that advances the lives of people in the communities it serves. Powered by an ethos of collaboration, The Corridor aligns opportunities and resources in academia, industry, and economic development to unleash the region’s expotential. floridahightech.com
Imec is a world-leading research and innovation center in nanoelectronics and digital technologies. Imec leverages its state-of-the-art R&D infrastructure and its team of more than 5,500 employees and top researchers for R&D in advanced semiconductor and system scaling, silicon photonics, artificial intelligence, beyond 5G communications and sensing technologies, and in application domains such as health and life sciences, mobility, industry 4.0, agrofood, smart cities, sustainable energy, education, and others. Imec unites world-industry leaders across the semiconductor value chain, international tech, pharma, medical and ICT companies, start-ups, and academia and knowledge centers. Imec is headquartered in Leuven (Belgium), and has research sites across Belgium, the Netherlands, and the USA, and representation in three continents. In 2022, imec’s revenue (P&L) totaled 846 million euro. www.imec-int.com/en/usa
About Orlando Economic Partnership
The Orlando Economic Partnership (the Partnership) is the Orlando region’s economic and community development organization that is seizing the moment to advance Broad-based Prosperity® by growing the diversity of the economy and driving investment into the region. The Partnership catalyzes the collaborative spirit of the region to fuel regional leadership and improve the region’s competitiveness. For more information on how Orlando is Unbelievably Real, visit InvestOrlando.org.
About University of Central Florida School of Modeling, Simulation, and Training (SMST)
The University of Central Florida School of Modeling, Simulation, and Training (SMST) is renowned for its prestigious graduate program and innovative research. It operates leading, internationally recognized research facilities dedicated to advancing modeling and simulation (M&S) and providing learning opportunities for students. The school has been at the forefront of M&S research for over 40 years, and, in 2018, established one of the first M.S. and Ph.D. programs in M&S. Through its research institute, SMST is exploring the most advanced M&S research concepts in the world for government and commercial applications: digital engineering; computer modeling; virtual, augmented, and mixed reality; behavioral cyber security; intelligent tutoring; human factors; cognition; artificial intelligence; and digital twin. www.ucf.edu/modeling-simulation
About University of Florida ECE
The Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department at the University of Florida has a long and storied history. Since 1909, we have been engineering impact and innovation while creating the best workforce in electrical and computer engineering for the state of Florida and for the nation. Our research, discoveries, and the resulting technologies continue to touch lives everywhere enhancing the economic and social well-being of all Floridians and citizens of the world in innumerable and impactful ways. Since our beginnings, we have grown into one of the largest and most successful departments in the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering (HWCOE). www.ece.ufl.edu
About Valencia College
Serving nearly 70,000 students at 10 campuses and training centers across Central Florida, Valencia College is recognized as one of the top community colleges in the nation. The college offers a variety of associate and bachelor’s degrees and short-term, job training programs, with industry leading rates of graduation, transfer and job placement, as recognized by the Aspen Institute, Achieving the Dream and other national organizations. www.valenciacollege.edu