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$30M in Federal Funds Could Create a Florida Cybersecurity Research Center

If approved, the funds would go toward a new Kissimme-based research facility focused on cyberprotections for microelectronic devices.

(TNS) — A Kissimme, Fla., sensor-research facility wants to establish a new cybersecurity center for microelectronics using $30 million from the defense-spending bill approved by Congress this week.

President Donald Trump is expected to sign the $684 billion bill.

But despite the award announcement on Thursday, BRIDG CEO Chester Kennedy is proceeding cautiously.

“We think it positions us well to build those federal national priorities, but it’s not money in the bank until it’s money in the bank,” he said.

In a release, the $30 million was described as intended for the BRIDG facility in Osceola County.

Central Florida politicians, including U.S. Reps. Darren Soto and Stephanie Murphy and U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson, made the case for the region to lead the way in the industry.

The $30 million would be used to enhance cyberprotections for microelectronic devices used in military systems, with work being based out of the BRIDG site, on U.S. Highway 192 just west of Florida’s Turnpike.

BRIDG has been pushing to establish itself as the leading research facility for sensor-based technologies in the U.S.

The appropriation earmarks the money to potentially go to BRIDG for cybersecurity work the Department of Defense would need in its microelectronics programs.

That area of technology includes GPS, radar and other communications-based programs.

“The next step is working with the DOD to help them understand how our capabilities can help them fill gaps in those programs,” Kennedy said.

A joint statement from Soto and Murphy said the work is important to the nation’s security.

“Making sure that the process for manufacturing microelectronics is secure from interference by foreign adversaries has been a challenge, and BRIDG is well positioned to produce trusted microelectronics that support our men and women in uniform and help keep our nation safe.”

The BRIDG facility was recently awarded security clearance, opening the door to work with defense contracts.

BRIDG debuted its sprawling 109,000-square-foot facility in early 2017 and has since established partnerships with industry leaders such as Siemens and the St. Petersburg-based Aurora Semiconductors, which has been developing technology to shrink microchips, potentially to a size that would allow 100 small components to be packaged in a thumbnail-sized device.

In May, the facility marked a big milestone as its first silicon-based wafer — the building block of integrated circuits — rolled out of its manufacturing site.

“This strong show of support from Congress … is a huge win for the Orlando region,” said Tim Giuliani, President and CEO of Orlando Economic Partnership, before calling BRIDG a “critical asset” in the region’s economy.

©2018 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.