emergent technologies instituteFlorida Gulf Coast University President Wilson Bradshaw shed light on the highly anticipated Emergent Technologies Institute as part of the Wake Up Naples series. This event was held by the Greater Naples Chamber on August 12 and sponsored by the Seminole Casino in Immokalee. The presentation illuminated the phenomenal impact the Emergent Technologies Institute has and will continue to have on southwest Florida’s economy and well-being.

The institute, better known by its more palatable acronym, ETI, broke ground this year on a 6.5 private park donated by John Backe. Home to the largest solar panel field in southwest Florida, ETI is destined to become the area’s forerunner of applied research for renewable technology.

The institute has been tasked with envisioning sustainability, conducting electric vehicle research, exploring the conversion of sea water into fresh water using solar energy and developing renewable energy for agriculture.

President Bradshaw describes ETI as the university’s living statement of our dedication to being good stewards of the environment.

John Backe has been a generous backer of this project. His donations gave ETI the resources to hire Joseph Simmons as FGCU’s Backe’s Chair. Simmons, a scientist whose previous work includes working as a Research Physicist for NASA, will conduct research and outreach activities while serving as part of the leadership that will help establish the institute.

ETI is expected to open its doors by the end of 2015 or early 2016, yet it’s already making a positive impact on the local economy. Since the project launched, it has generated 160 jobs and $21 million in economic activity.

No institution is as responsive to the needs of southwest Florida as Florida Gulf Coast University, President Bradshaw said.

FGCU invites local businesses to become active participants in ETI’s projects. There are several ways to get involved, including working with the facility on tackling some of today’s renewable energy issues or partnering with FGCU through their internship program.