Skip to main content

An engineering professor and an associate vice president at the University of Central Florida have been nominated for Schwartz Tech awards.

Sudipta Seal, an engineering professor and nanotechnology and materials expert, is in the running for the Researcher of the Year, and Tom O’Neal, associate vice president for Research and Commercialization, is up for Tech Community Champion.

The awards recognize Central Florida researchers and leaders from academia and industry who are pioneering exploratory and cutting-edge research to enhance products, services or other applications in any field. The Tech Community Champion award specifically honors an individual who does not directly work in the region’s tech industry but supports its efforts, entrepreneurship and expansion.

Seal has a long history of discovering and creating innovative technology since arriving at UCF in 1998 from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley. His research has applications in environmental cleanup, nanoadditives for fuels, and health among others. Some of his discoveries have led to start-up companies including nSolGel Inc, nTiOx and NanoCe LLC.

In addition to teaching and research he is also the director of UCF’s Advanced Materials Processing Analysis Center, UCF’s Nanoscience and Technology Center, and the interim chair of Materials Science and Engineering , which are hubs for innovation.

Seal has been recognized frequently by local, regional and national organizations and is a fellow of American Society of Materials, American Association of Advancement of Science, American Vacuum Society, Institute of Nanotechnology, National Academy of Inventors, Electrochemical Society, and the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineers among others.

O’Neal has helped create an entrepreneurial ecosystem for tech in Orlando for the past 20 years. He has helped the executive leadership of the community and UCF articulate the direction, vision and execution of multiple award‐winning entrepreneurial programs, including the UCF Business Incubation Program and GrowFL, the Economic Gardening Institute among many others.

The UCF Technology incubator, which has since expanded into a network of eight incubators in four counties across Central Florida, has helped more than 155 start-up companies and in 2013 the National Business Incubation Association named it “Incubator Network of the Year.” His leadership aided in the creation of GrowFL, which works with Florida’s second‐stage companies. Since its inception, GrowFL has assisted more than 700 companies through its strategic research and CEO Roundtable programs and recognized 150 successful entrepreneurs through its annual awards program, Florida Companies to Watch. As of June 30, 2013, GrowFL-assisted companies represented 13,493 direct jobs across the state. In 2013, these companies had an estimated sales output of $1.14 billion and contributed $2.33 billion to the Florida economy.

O’Neal has helped bring Central Florida national recognition for its entrepreneurial ecosystem. He is recognized as an innovator in the development of entrepreneurship and has testified in Congress as an internationally recognized brand ambassador for entrepreneurship‐related matters. He serves as an expert on business incubation and industry best practices, and has established international partnerships with several countries such as France, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom and Ireland.

The Orlando Economic Development Commission teamed up with the Orlando Tech Association and the Florida High Tech Corridor Council for the awards program this year. This is the 24th year the awards have been handed out.

Winners will be announced at an event Sept. 30 at the Orchid Garden at Church Street Station in downtown Orlando. The date was selected to coincide with Orlando Tech Week. The awards program is named after the late William C. Schwartz, a community leader, business pioneer and innovator in the field of optics and photonics.

Two additional awards will be given during the celebration recognizing student entrepreneurs from top regional academic business competitions and an innovative company from the Florida High Tech Corridor Council.

For more information, visit