Florida Governor Rick Scott visited the UCF Center for Emerging Media today for the announcement of a unique new partnership between the University of Central Florida’s Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA) and EA SPORTS.

Designed to create a priority pathway for FIEA graduates into the video game industry, the new EA SPORTS Innovation Lab at the UCF Center for Emerging Media in Downtown Orlando will allow EA SPORTS to create additional internship opportunities each year at the facility, where FIEA students will work side by side with industry-leading EA SPORTS game development professionals to create the latest products on the latest platforms, using the latest tools and technologies.

“Florida is fortunate to have high-tech companies like EA SPORTS that infuse millions of dollars into our state’s economy every year and provide jobs for hundreds of Floridians.  The partnership between UCF and EA SPORTS will foster Florida’s homegrown talent and train Floridians for those jobs,” Governor Scott said.  “Preparing Florida students for high-tech jobs, along with our state’s competitive economic incentives, gives Florida an advantage over other states and ensures high-value businesses open their doors in our state, instead of somewhere else.”

The inaugural intern class at the EA SPORTS Innovation Lab will begin in September for the first talented students to be part of this program.  FIEA was established in 2005 as a result of a partnership between the university, EA SPORTS and the city of Orlando.

“UCF prides itself in being America’s leading partnership university and the success of the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy attests to the power of partnerships,” said UCF President John C. Hitt.  Nearly 250 students have graduated from FIEA since its creation and many of them have moved on to successful careers in the game industry, including careers at EA SPORTS’ studio in Orlando and other Electronic Arts labels and studios.

From the creation of the tax credit incentive in 2011 through spring 2013, EA will have created more than 150 high-skill, high-wage jobs in Orlando.

“Our collective goal for the Center and our EA SPORTS Innovation Lab is to create even more job opportunities for Florida graduates, right here in Central Florida.  By establishing pipelines directly into existing Orlando-based digital media businesses, including our local EA SPORTS studio, EA-Tiburon, we can keep creating jobs in the state of Florida,” said Daryl Holt, vice president and chief operating officer of EA SPORTS.

State Representative Steve Precourt and Orlando City Commissioner Daisy Lynum also attended the event at FIEA today to show their support.  Representative Precourt championed a bill with State Senator Mike Haridopolos in 2010, providing economic incentives for digital and interactive media productions in the state.  The city of Orlando has also long championed the development of the interactive entertainment industry, with the Creative Village poised to serve as the foundation for a thriving digital media cluster.  FIEA is housed in facilities owned by the city of Orlando.