Doubles Number of Companies in the Program in the last 2 Years
ORLANDO — Soft landings are important for everything from rockets returning to earth to parachutists dropping from the sky. For businesses trying to enter a new geographic market, a soft landing can make all the difference between success and failure.
The University of Central Florida’s Business Incubator program is celebrating 5 years of successfully guiding small businesses to a smoother glide-path arrival in a new market – Metro Orlando.
Since its start in 2012 UCF’s Soft Landing program has helped more than two dozen companies from throughout Europe, South America and other U.S. locations outside Metro Orlando establish a solid business foot-hold in Central Florida.
Companies selected for their potential to create higher wage jobs get access to a suite of services that can help them make a successful transition during the critical early stages.
In addition to office space, UCF’s soft landing program provides newly arrived companies with formal introductions to the local business community and leaders, marketing research and assistance, and even help with writing press releases to spread the word.
UCF’s soft landing program is still gaining momentum, doubling the number of companies assisted to 25 in just the past two years, says Gordon Hogan, program director. They include five from Brazil, five from the United Kingdom, and others from Australia, Argentina, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic as well as from elsewhere throughout the United States.
Nearly one in five of UCF’s 140 business-incubator clients is now in the soft landing specialty program, which has produced a number of success stories in a short time.
One such successful soft landing client is Freshorize, a London-based company founded in 2002 by self-made entrepreneur Aziz Patel. The company makes patented soap dispensers and related products, marketed internationally, so when Patel wanted to enter the U.S. market he turned to the UCF soft landing program in the Winter Springs incubator for help.
Patel says it’s a “daunting task” to launch into a new geographic market and he found the UCF program exceptionally helpful in finding local contacts as well as accountants, lawyers and employees.
As a result of the soft landing program, Patel says, he was able to more quickly land major contracts with U.S. airlines to purchase his unique, branded products, broadening the company’s base from its years of success with European airlines. He even moved manufacturing from China to Volusia County.
The UCF program was officially designated as a Soft Landing International Incubator by the National Business Incubation Association in 2015, making the Central Florida program the first, and only, incubator in Florida to earn that distinction.
While UCF’s soft landing program works with growth companies of all types that meet certain criteria for entry into the Metro Orlando market, the program is best known for its work with high-tech companies. The University of Central Florida is an internationally recognized leader in cutting edge technology research and education, in fields such as lasers, optics and sensors, and the Metro Orlando anchor for Florida’s nationally acclaimed High-Tech Corridor, which parallels Interstate 4 from Tampa Bay to the Space Coast.
About the UCF Business Incubation Program
The University of Central Florida Business Incubation Program is a community resource that provides early-stage companies with the tools, training and infrastructure to become financially stable, high growth/impact enterprises. Since 1999, this award-winning program has helped over 390 local startup companies reach their potential faster by providing vital business development resources.
With seven facilities throughout the region, the UCF Business Incubation Program is an economic development partnership between the University of Central Florida, the Corridor, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia Counties, and the cities of Apopka, Kissimmee, Orlando and Winter Springs. For the 2014/15 and 2015/16 fiscal years, the activities of these participating firms have helped to sustain more than 4,710 local jobs and have had a cumulative impact of over $725 million on regional GDP and over $1.3 billion on regional sales. During the same period, the program has returned $7.41 in state and local taxes for every $1.00 invested in the program. For more information, visit www.incubator.ucf.edu.