Exclusive: Red 6 CEO talks Orlando jobs & HQ plans a year after Florida relocation – The Business Journals
When Red 6 Inc. last summer said it would move its headquarters from Santa Monica, California, to Florida, the augmented-reality startup named Miami its future headquarters — but Red 6 has been plenty busy in Orlando during the last 18 months.
Red 6 is the developer of the Airborne Tactical Augmented Reality System, an augmented-reality (AR) training device that lets fighter jet pilots train with computer-generated enemy planes around them — even in high-speed, outdoor environments.
Why this story matters: Red 6 in 2021 moved its headquarters from California to Florida, with the promise to create 100 jobs combined in Orlando and Miami. Local job creation by tech companies like Red 6 means more high-wage positions in the economy.
The 4-year-old startup’s focus meshes well with Orlando’s simulation hub, which is why the City Beautiful will see much of Red 6’s ongoing growth.
In fact, Red 6 already has scaled to a team of 20 employees in Orlando, founder and CEO Daniel Robinson told Orlando Inno. Between 80-90% of those hires have been local, Robinson added. That includes one of the first Florida hires, former Orlando Economic Vice President of Innovation Sheena Fowler, who now is Red 6’s vice president of strategic engagement and business development.
Red 6 still is in the process of moving its operations from California to Florida. That said, the corporate leaders, including Robinson, are based in Miami.
However, just about everything else is meant to be concentrated in Orlando, Robinson said. In fact, Red 6’s own website lists the firm’s east Orlando address as its headquarters.
“Where we’re building out, from an organizational perspective and from an engineering perspective, the major headquarters of that is Orlando, just because of the human capital and talent,” Robinson said.
This fall, Red 6 landed a couple of partnerships that Robinson said are strong signals of demand for its technology. First, Red 6 in September announced a joint agreement with Chicago-based aerospace giant The Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) to collaborate on the development of dogfighting training tech.
Plus, Red 6 and British aerospace company BAE Systems plc (OTCMKTS: BAESY) on Nov. 29 shared that it signed a memorandum of understanding to explore the integration of Red 6’s system with BAE’s Hawk trainer jet.
BAE trains 450 pilots each year for militaries around the world, and Red 6’s AR tech “is key as we prepare pilots for life in a fast jet cockpit for decades to come,” BAE Systems Head of Training Lucy Walton said in a prepared statement.
Meanwhile, Red 6 next year will complete the integration of its training system with the U.S. Air Force, Robinson said. The company last year scored a $70 million contract with the military branch to integrate its product with multiple aircraft and a jet trainer. Red 6 also is in talks with the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force, where Robinson was a pilot for a decade.
Robinson sat down with Orlando Inno at I/ITSEC, the simulation industry’s marquee trade show that’s held in Orlando very year. This year’s I/ITSEC drew 18,000 attendees around the world to the Orange County Convention Center from Nov. 28-Dec. 2. The show generated an estimated $46.2 million in local economic impact, convention center spokeswoman Katarina Dos Santos told Orlando Inno.
Modeling, simulation and training is a $6 billion industry in the Orlando area, which often is considered the global hub for the industry that’s focused on high-tech training technologies for the military, health care and other sectors. The nation’s Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines simulation operations are based in Central Florida Research Park.
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