Innovation centers on the rise
A new research center for the Mobile Aeroplex is the latest innovation magnet for a
region with more than some might think


When it comes to robotics, the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition
continues to prove it’s one of the world’s premiere research centers in the field.

The latest innovation? The world’s first bi-pedal robot, known as the Planar Elliptical
Runner, that IHMC unveiled in May. The size of a small dog, the robot’s mechanical
design created by the institute’s engineers makes it stable and able to run up to 12
mph.

It’s another breakthrough for the Pensacola, Fla., research center, which has made a
name for itself in the use of exoskeletons and robots that can aid in disaster recovery.

IHMC is one of the more high-profile of the research and applied technology
operations spread across the Gulf Coast Interstate 10 region. Government,
university and businesses are involved in research in a host of fields, including
aerospace-related fields that include engineering/design, artificial intelligence,
warhead technologies, guidance systems, rocket propulsion, unmanned vehicles,
remote sensing and more.

Science and engineering are essential pathways to prosperity, according to the
National Science Foundation. Research and development leads to new products and
businesses, and the United States remains the world leader, where R&D spending is
a $527.5 billion enterprise.

Along the Gulf Coast I-10 corridor there are multiple hot spots for federal, university,
and corporate research, development, test and evaluation. The two biggest are
NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and military’s Eglin Air Force Base in
Northwest Florida.

Both federal operations actively seek partnerships with private companies, including
start-ups, and have ongoing SBIR/STTR programs for small businesses.

Another large federal operation in the region is the Naval Surface Warfare Center in
Panama City, Fla., which spends millions every year on R&D focusing on maritime
activities.

In South Alabama the presence of Airbus is causing the development of commercial
aviation R&D at the Mobile Aeroplex.

The region’s universities are also heavily involved in R&D and technology transfer.
The University of Southern Mississippi has a solid reputation for advanced materials
research, much of it of interest to aerospace.

The University of West Florida, University of South Alabama, Tulane University and
University of New Orleans all have technology transfer offices.

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