When the Society for Simulation in Healthcare chose Orlando to host its International Meeting on Simulation in Healthcare (IMSH) — the world’s largest conference dedicated to health-care simulation learning, research, and scholarship — January 2017, it wasn’t so attendees would bring along their families to the country’s No. 1 vacation destination (attracting 68 million tourists annually) or so they could soak up the sun after sessions.
It was to soak up knowledge provided by one of Orlando’s other attractions: The city houses the world’s largest modeling, simulation, and training cluster — more than 100 companies, including Lockheed Martin, that provide simulation, training, modeling, and virtual and augmented reality research for both military and commercial purposes. In fact, the top-rated Florida Hospital Global Robotics Institute provides cutting-edge health-care simulation training for more than 50,000 surgeons around the world.
Orlando has long been associated with magic, but that’s not the “tomorrowland” quality that has made it a Top 10 “American City of the Future,” (fDi Magazine). Orlando has earned bragging rights for its thriving entrepreneurial culture and booming technology scene, which makes it a draw for business events across a broad swath of industries. Companies like SAP, Microsoft, the Association of Financial Professionals, and the American Academy of Family Physicians keep coming back to the city.
Just as IMSH’s program included off-site immersive courses at a number of Orlando facilities and sessions led by local experts, these organizations are likewise tapping into the city’s assets: choosing entrepreneurs, experts, and business leaders for speakers; touring high-profile facilities; using innovative meeting spaces for sessions; and taking advantage of collaborative opportunities among Orlando’s sectors on the rise.
Among them are:
In addition to the International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research — the only advanced materials manufacturing development center focused on future products like smart sensors and photonics devices — Orlando is home to advanced manufacturing firms such as Siemens Energy, and mid-size companies and incubators.
Life Sciences and Health Care
The 650-acre Lake Nona Medical City is making a name for itself as the home of innovation within the biotechnology and life-sciences industries, with a collection of state-of-the-art health-care, research, and medical-training facilities. This “living lab” is a major reason why Orlando now hosts 40 percent of HCEA’s top 50 largest medical meetings. Lake Nona also acts as a mini speakers bureau, working directly with medical meeting organizers to help them book expert speakers in a variety of specialties.
Orlando is ranked 13th for startup density for all U.S. metros, according to the Kauffman Index of Startup Activity. A nonprofit complex called Canvs has set up shop in town, housing more than 100 tech-related startups in one shared space.
All of these developments have earned Orlando enviable spots on a number of lists: One of the “Most Dynamic Cities in America” in 2016, according to Worth Magazine; No. 1 in the U.S. for job and population growth in 2015 (U.S. Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics); and the second-most competitive business location among large US. cities (KPMG, 2016).
As far as meeting planners’ lists, those who are seeking an energized business environment where they can super-charge their events with idea-sharing will find Orlando rises to the top.
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