Defense contractors increasingly woo venture capital dollars (by Alex Soderstrom)

Indeed, a pair of high-tech defense firms based in and relocating to Central Florida demonstrate the rising interest in the sector among startup investors.

For example, Santa Monica, California-based Red 6 Inc., which will open a technology hub in Orlando, raised $30 million in a Series A round earlier this year.

Likewise, Melbourne-based Tomahawk Robotics Inc. in April closed a $10 million round, the largest recorded on the Space Coast so far this year.

Defense companies raising significant amounts of venture capital is a relatively new phenomenon, said George Cheros, CEO of the Orlando-based National Center for Simulation. Many of the region’s defense contractors are part of Central Florida’s $6 billion simulation industry, and they typically use government contracts, lines of credit or the Small Business Administration’s SBIR grants to fund themselves, Cheros said. However, companies like Red 6 show businesses can tap into multiple capital sources to get up and running, he added. “It’s exciting to see someone want to launch something this fast.”