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Osceola to consider $15M contract with ICAMR & welcome Belgian tech firm

Osceola to consider $15M contract with ICAMR & welcome Belgian tech firm
Osceola County will invest $15 million over five years into a nanotechnology design center at the Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center now under construction. (Osceola County)

Osceola County will pour $15 million into sensor and nanotechnology research under a five-year contract with the International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research.

County Commissioners are scheduled to vote on the deal Monday. The county will also welcome a new global tech company that has promised to open its US headquarters here before the end of the year.

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Chairwoman Viviana Janer told GrowthSpotter on Friday that company, code named "Nano," is an internationally known research institute with a staff of more than 2,200 people. According to the agreement, "Nano" International is a public utility foundation based in Belgium.

Osceola Commission Chairwoman Viviana Janer said the funding agreement with ICAMR will create high-wage, high-value jobs.
Osceola Commission Chairwoman Viviana Janer said the funding agreement with ICAMR will create high-wage, high-value jobs. (Osceola County)

The county is currently building a $130 million research park at the former Judge Farms property on U.S. 192. The 100,000-square-foot Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center is the crown jewel of the 500-acre project.

The center, expected to open in early 2017, will be the future home of ICAMR, now based in downtown Kissimmee. Melbourne-based Harris Corp. signed on officially as a partner, and has a production contract with ICAMR.

"We're really excited because this provides the framework for research and design," Janer said. "It's expected to bring high-wage and high-value employment to our county."

ICAMR CEO Chester Kennedy said Nano is the company that will operate a new design center where "companies can come in with an idea for a new sensor and we can help them get it from that idea phase to a commercial-ready product."

The name will be unveiled by the institute's leaders. "it's a big deal for them - they want share in the excitement," Kennedy said. "It's a really great organization, and it will be somoene that Osceola County will be proud to have as part of the community."

Janer said the county already has $3 million in reserves this year for the first installment of the ICAMR funding agreement.

She said Nano "includes industrial and guest researchers that perform research in different fields of nanoelectronics," she said. "They have a proven track record of operating research and development programs with a global ecosystem of more than 600 industry partners."

ICAMR and "Nano" agree to raise private funding to match the public investment by year three. By year five of the agreement, the private funding should more than double the county's $3 million share.

The agreement reads: The value of this design initiative partnership with "Nano" is that it will provide immediate recognition for Osceola County and the state of Florida as a high-tech center in the world and act as a magnet for attracting new investment opportunities in the region.

In a separate agreement, commissioners will consider advancing $2 million to ICAMR as part of a three-way Technology Development Funding Agreement with the consortium and Photon-X, an Alabama 3D imaging technology company that relocated to Osceola County in 2013.

"They are all related in some cool ways," Kennedy said. "Photon-X wants to join ICAMR in a collaborative project with Nano in the design center. So the $2 million would be to help seed that and to get the design center operational."

Photon-X would be required to pay back the investment, at 4-percent interest, directly to the design center. Those payment would serve to reduce the county's future obligations.

The final part of the agreement is a MOU with PhotonDelta, an alliance of Dutch researchers and industry stakeholders based in Eindhoven, the Netherlands.

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Last October, Eindhoven Mayor Rob van Gijzel led the delegation to Osceola County. Eindhoven is home to a major research university in Europe, the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e).

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407)420-6261, or tweet me at @LKinslerOGrowth. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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