By Shane Klestinski, Associate Editor

 

When the National Science Foundation announced that Osceola County would be the location of the new Central Florida Semiconductor Innovation Engine, observers expected an increase in business momentum that would further establish Central Florida as an emerging tech hub – and more evidence of that has recently manifested.

 

Plug and Play Tech Center (or “Plug and Play” for short), is a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm known for “matchmaking” startup businesses with entrepreneurs and other industry leaders, which recently opened offices at NeoCity in Osceola County. Their mission will focus on introducing semiconductor startups that can advance the industry.

 

“We have investors, venture capitalists and corporations, and the corporations would say what technology needs they have, for example, for electrification [of an] autonomous, connected car,” said Saeed Amidi, Plug and Play’s CEO and founder. “Then we communicate that to the startups to solve their problem.”

 

Business leaders and county officials recognize Plug and Play’s involvement in NeoCity’s semiconductor efforts as a significant milestone in the district’s young history. With most of the world’s semiconductors currently produced in Taiwan, the semiconductor industry is not only important for Osceola County’s future economic growth, but it also represents significant U.S. national security interests.

 

After the Great Recession, Osceola County officials saw the need to diversify their economy, and they took steps to establish NeoCity, a 500-acre technology district. Although getting specifically into the semiconductor industry was not the original goal, the infrastructure investments made by the county and its regional partners (over $273 million) ultimately gave NeoCity firm positioning to become the hub of Central Florida’s expanding semiconductor industry.

 

Since Amidi founded Plug and Play in 2006, it has worked with more than 50,000 startups, made over 1500 investments, and claimed over 30 “unicorn” businesses, such as Dropbox, PayPal, and Honey, among others. It has invested in over 30 semiconductor companies. In October 2023, CB Insights recognized Plug and Play as the “most active startup accelerator” from 2020 to 2022, crediting Plug and Play with an average of 929 deals per year during that time frame.


“We eagerly anticipate welcoming Plug and Play to NeoCity and to our community,” said Osceola Commission Chairwoman Viviana Janer in an Osceola County press release. “This strategic partnership represents a quantum leap forward in realizing NeoCity’s potential as an epicenter for technological innovation. There is seamless connectivity within Plug and Play’s ecosystem that fosters an environment of unparalleled advancement.”

 

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