One of the country’s largest attractors for medical meetings is located right here in Orlando. Lake Nona Medical City, is a 650-acre complex in southeast Orlando and an innovation hub for medical care, research and education. Lake Nona’s cluster was built based on the proven theory that health care and life sciences facilities in close proximity to one another will accelerate innovation. In the years since, Lake Nona has become home to some of the nation’s leading hospitals, universities, research institutions, and health and life sciences companies.
One of its newest additions is the GuideWell Innovation Center. A new commercial life sciences facility that offers unique amenities such as plant walls, life-saving technologies and a variety of avocado delectables. Most meeting facilities don’t boast these kinds of amenities, but perhaps that’s why so many groups are intrigued about the center.
Indeed, that’s why NASA selected GuideWell as one of the venues for its annual Space Apps Challenge, a 48-hour international hackathon featuring coders, scientists, designers and everyone enthusiastic about space. NASA’s executives “were super picky about the kind of meeting space they wanted,” according to Chris Clark, GuideWell’s events manager. “They wanted something that was extremely collaborative and futuristic at the same time.” Fortunately, GuideWell was able to deliver that experience and much more.
Navigating Through the GuideWell Innovation Center
The 92,000-square foot facility features office and laboratory space for Lake Nona’s medical partners, which include two hospitals, a highly-acclaimed National Institutes of Health research facility, a top biomedical research enterprise and two university medical campuses. Built in March 2016, GuideWell also serves as a wildly innovative meeting space for groups of any kind.
Visitors who enter the center first stroll through a public gallery showcasing rotating exhibits and the latest technology solutions — from wearable devices that send alerts to family members when you’re having a seizure to two-way mirrors that connect to your email. Groups typically hold breakfasts or cocktail parties in the gallery, while resident scientists provide live demonstrations of the technologies.
The space also lends itself to dramatic productions. One group that recently used the facility held a cocktail party where live models became part of the exhibit, doing yoga poses on elevated platforms.
The center also has a 260-seat theater-in-the-round, the only one of its type in Orlando. The theater provides the ideal setting for viewing video products, 3-D renderings and simulations — one group recently held a “Shark Tank-type” production here. The theater also includes:
- A prototype and design center featuring 3-D printing, scanning and the latest software creation technologies.
- Several glass-walled meeting spaces, all with Wi-Fi and teleconferencing capabilities.
- An outdoor plaza with environmental art installations.
If you think these amenities are impressive, there’s more. The highlight for many meeting groups is The Garage — an innovative space in the back of the center exclusively for meeting-goers “who are ready to roll up their sleeves and get dirty,” Clark says.
The Garage’s setup makes the space ideal for brainstorming. Stocked with Legos and designed in a cozy living-room style, The Garage is “part children’s playroom, part techno-paradise,” with smart boards, whiteboards on wheels and other technology rolling through the space.
“It’s very fun, and there are power cords everywhere, making it sort of gritty and Silicon Valley-esque,” Clark adds.
Everything You Need to Host a One-of-a-Kind Meeting
“A lot of meetings in the healthcare and technology spaces are designed for people to share ideas,” Clark says. “This is really a living lab where they can do that. It’s impossible for people to come here and not engage with one another.” Orlando hosts 40% of the HCEA top 50 larges medical meetings and is becoming the new medical meetings hub. Groups like the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, Oncology Nurses Association and the Healthcare Information & Management Systems Society come back to Orlando year after year for its warm weather, easy access, extraordinary meeting space, and great walkability. And as the country’s most visited destination, it certainly is a top pick among attendees as well as offers a wide variety of unique one-of-a-kind experiences.