Ukraine firm to hire up to 50 employees, debuts at I/ITSEC this week
Orlando, Fla (November 28, 2022) — As the war in Ukraine continues, a technology firm that moved from laser tag to training the Ukraine army has established their US operations in the UCF Business Incubator in Research Park.
It’s the company’s first international expansion with plans to add 50 new jobs to the region.
“Our training software is being showcased in real time as our country is successfully fighting the invasion,” says Michael Obod, CEO, SKIFTECH. “This is something we have been planning to do, but when the war struck, we needed to have a location outside of Ukraine and Orlando is the only place we considered.”
The path to Orlando was certainly unique because the company started out in the entertainment business, building a global laser tag empire. By 2014, when Russia invaded Crimea, Obod and his partner, Yurii Lavrenov, had supplied nearly 2,000 laser tag facilities in 67 countries, including Battleground Orlando.
That’s when the Ukraine Ministry of Defense called asking Obod and Lavrenov to produce Tactical Engagement Simulation (TES) systems for armored vehicles, such as tanks.
The company immediately began recruiting engineers and founded SKIFTECH to develop the equipment to train the Ukraine military.
SKIFTECH plunged into the tactical world while leveraging its manufacturing and engineering prowess to develop a number of sought-after TES products such as MILES-like laser kits for soldiers and vehicles, antipersonnel mines, hand grenades, MANPATS and MANPADS, VR/AR and several specialty projects.
One specialty project in particular was a custom Special Mission Unit shoot house for the U.S. Department of Energy. The project, which trains soldiers for to defend nuclear reactors, was built in Ukraine and delivered in half the time.
Today SKIF has become the premiere provider of TES equipment for the Ukrainian Armed Forces, National Guard, Special Operations Forces and Border Troops.
In the early days of the 2022 Russian invasion SKIF has provided TES systems for the training of Territorial Defense Forces and the volunteer battalions that were crucial to repelling the Russian advance.
Ukrainian military officials have reported that units who trained with SKIF TES systems prior to going into battle experienced a 31 percent reduction in casualties.
Today, the company has more than 250 employees, including its first employee in Orlando, Michael Kniseley, a U.S. Army Veteran and Director of Business Operations.
Over the next two years, SKIFTECH plans to hire 25-50 new team members over the next 24 months to include legal counsel, a contract manager, a fielding manager, and several business developers, along with a program and project manager team.
“Bringing SKIFTECH to Central Florida is tremendous success for our region and provides yet another example of investment in entertainment technologies can produce solutions for use in other industries,” says Carol Ann Logue, director, programs & operations, Innovation Districts & Incubation Program, University of Central Florida. “The growing convergence of innovations from the entertainment industry into the defense simulation and training industry is one reason why Orlando is so attractive to businesses like SKIFTECH.”
This week, SKIFTECH is exhibiting at its first Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC), the world’s largest modeling, simulation and training event, at the Orange County Convention Center located at booth number 2090.
About SKIFTECH: a major manufacturer of high-tech solutions that are of a high-quality for effective and realistic military training for soldiers. We understand that the general level of training of soldiers directly influences the ability to achieve set goals. That’s why we build systems that bring training as close as possible to real combat conditions. This allows fighters to get used to emergency conditions and continue to make the right decisions despite the environment and external stimuli. For more information, please visit skif.cc
About the UCF Business Incubation Program:
The University of Central Florida Business Incubation Program is a community resource that provides early-stage companies with the tools, training and infrastructure to become financially stable, high growth/impact enterprises. Since 1999, this award-winning program has provided vital business development resources resulting in over 300 local startup companies reaching their potential faster and graduating into the community where they continue to grow and positively impact the local economy.
With eight facilities throughout the region, the UCF Business Incubation Program is an economic development partnership between the University of Central Florida, the Corridor, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia Counties, and the cities of Kissimmee, Orlando and Winter Springs. For the 2017/2018 fiscal years, the activities of these participating firms have helped to sustain more than 6,725 local jobs and have had a cumulative impact of over $725 million on regional GDP and over $1.3 billion on regional sales. During the same period, the program has returned more than $12.00 in state and local taxes for every $1.00 invested in the program. In addition, for every $1.00 of public investment the firms also produced $118 of additional regional GDP and $226 of regional sales. For more information, visit www.incubator.ucf.edu