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UCF-based Limbitless Solutions, which creates bionic arms for children, took top honors Thursday in front of some of the hottest companies in Orange, Brevard, and Volusia counties.

The Orlando Business Journal awarded 25 local companies with the newspaper’s inaugural Inno Fire Awards. The awards recognized companies for their innovation, growth, and impact in the Central Florida region. Top winners in five categories – based on their years in business – were named 2022 Blazers. Representatives from the winning companies donned red blazers, reminiscent of the green jacket awarded to the Masters golf tournament winner.

“It was an honor to represent the culture of innovation here at UCF,” says President and Cofounder of the organization, Albert Manero ’12 ’14 ‘16PhD. “Our team is thrilled to see the growth of the program as we prepare to expand our impact through new clinical trials.”

The event drew a who’s who of business leaders. Manero was joined by co-founders John Sparkman ’13 ’15MS (Vice President and Director of Technology) and Dominique Courbin ’18 (Director of Production), Angie Carloss ’04 ’08MPA (Director of Administration, Operations, and Outreach), and Erin Turner ’08, ’16MBA (Director of Advancement).

“It really takes a team effort,” Sparkman says. “Our undergraduate student research and internship program, now with 50 students participating, has allowed us to expand our innovation and technology development.”

Limbitless Solutions took the top Blazer award in the Established Players category (businesses in operation 8 to 10 years). It was established in 2014 by a then group of UCF students who wanted to help one local boy who needed a prosthetic arm. Since then, the leaders all graduated from UCF, and the organization has grown leaps and bounds. This past summer, they moved into a 6,000-square-foot facility, tripling its size. In 2021 Limbitless Solutions generated more than $1 million and is working through clinical trials. The group has also presented to the United Nations several times in the past few years; to discuss inclusivity and the role technology can play. The group expects to expand its work to adults in 2022 and is launching a new pediatric clinical trial partnership here in central Florida with Orlando Health Arnold Palmer.

David Adelson, executive director of tech and innovation for the Orlando Economic Partnership, told the crowd gathered to celebrate at the Citrus Club that Orlando has been growing an ecosystem that’s ideal for business. The efforts have finally been recognized, he told the group, noting that Wallethub earlier this week named Orlando the best large city in the nation to start a business. He credited much of the community’s success to pioneering entrepreneurs like the ones honored Thursday.

One of the keys to Limbitless Solutions success cited in the OBJ is the team’s ability to bring together individuals from engineeringgame design, and the arts to create. The team credits collaboration across disciplines and partnerships at UCF and beyond for driving innovation and the company’s success.

The honorees included businesses focused on everything, from autonomous vehicles and luxury spaceflights to cybersecurity and clinical research management. According to the April 29-May 5 edition of the OBJ, the honorees had a combined average of 106 percent year-over-year revenue growth in 2021, employed a combined 1,034 people, and projected another 894 hires before the end of 2022.

Sponsors of the award include the Florida High Tech Corridor, the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College, the Orlando Tech Council, and Soliman Productions.