Space Florida, IHMC partnership includes collaboration, research support

A partnership between Space Florida and the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition has been quietly growing. Most recently, Space Florida contributed $2 million in support of that collaboration.  

When construction of IHMC’s newest research building is completed in the summer of 2024, Space Florida will have office space in the new facility — additional evidence of how closely the two entities intend to work together. 

Howard Haug, Space Florida’s executive vice president, treasurer and chief investment officer.

Howard Haug, Space Florida’s executive vice president, treasurer and chief investment officer, was part of the ceremonial groundbreaking for IHMC’s new human performance research complex.

“Among the topics our human performance team is exploring is how humans respond both physically and cognitively to stress and how we perform in extreme environments,” said IHMC Founder and CEO Dr. Ken Ford. “Space is among the most extreme environments in which humans perform. Seen through that lens, a collaborative partnership between IHMC and Space Florida clearly benefits both entities.” 

Space Florida was created to support the growth and development of a sustainable and world-leading aerospace industry throughout the state. It promotes aerospace and space-related business development, business financing, spaceport operations, research and development, workforce development, and innovative education programs statewide. 

The space and aerospace-related sector fuels some $19 billion of the state’s economy. More than 17,144 aerospace-related companies call Florida home, according to the  aerospace finance and development authority. 

“It’s been exciting for our team at Space Florida to work with IHMC in supporting its multifaceted research endeavors, much of which translates well into the realm of space and aerospace.” said Howard Haug, Space Florida’s executive vice president, treasurer and chief investment officer.. 

The partnership creates another foothold for Space Florida’s expanding presence in Northwest Florida, which includes an advanced manufacturing program at Pensacola State College, and the Leonardo Helicopter maintenance facility at Peter Prince Airport in Santa Rosa County. 

Anna Alexopoulos Farrar, Space Florida’s vice president for corporate communications, said the IHMC partnership is part of a mission-critical investment in research and development for the state’s aerospace industry. 

“The work with IHMC underscores the importance of extending our reach beyond one region,” she said. “Florida isn’t just competing with other states, we are competing with sovereign nations that operate within very different regulatory systems. To emerge as a powerhouse of the aerospace industry and for aerospace capital, Space Florida has reached across county lines working with companies and organizations from the Panhandle to South Florida.” 

Farrar said that space no longer is solely about exploration — it’s a strategic economic system that thrives with investment in the future. From AI and robotics to health and resilience, this partnership will extend to areas that will fuel the aerospace industry for years to come.  

“It’s through research and development that we can revolutionize the way we explore our universe and solve complex problems of today and the yet to be imagined,” Farrar said. 

“Our mission is to make Florida the ground node, the leading global entity for the emergence of a space economy in low earth orbit,” Farrar said. “With this continued partnership and investment between IHMC and Space Florida, the possibilities can be endless if we invest in them.”  

IHMC is a not-for-profit research institute of the Florida University System where researchers pioneer science and technology aimed at leveraging and extending human capabilities. IHMC researchers and staff collaborate extensively with the government, industry and academia to help develop breakthrough technologies. IHMC research partners have included: DARPA, the National Science Foundation, NASA, Army, Navy, Air Force, National Institutes of Health, IBM, Microsoft, Honda, Boeing, Lockheed, and many others.