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South Florida represents in a big way at Synapse Summit 2022

on February 21, 2022 / by Nikki Cabus ,

Read Time 4 Minutes

With a few thousand people in attendance, Synapse Summit celebrated the 5th year of their exciting annual conference highlighting tech and innovation within the state of Florida.

Florida has consistently been ranked as one of the top states for entrepreneurial activity with South Florida leading the pack over the past decade or more, but has struggled to gain the national attention attracting funding and talent.

Technology and STEAM related fields have been focus for the region, but only now getting the attention. Over the past few years, others areas of the state such as Miami, Tampa, and Orlando have really stepped up and helped put Florida on a national level.

This year’s Synapse Summit prominently represented South Florida!

There were more than 50 sessions with discussions touching on topics from fintech to healthtech, but web3 was definitely the highlight of the summit. Speakers such as Cathy Hackl, a globally recognized metaverse expert was one of the keynote speakers of the day.

She has worked with companies like Magic Leap and Amazon Web Services and is currently the CEO of the Futures Intelligence Group, a ‘leading metaverse consultancy working with the world’s top brands on metaverse/web. 3.0 strategies, NFTs, gaming, virtual fashion, and how to extend their brands into virtual worlds.’

A new leader in this space, Michelle Abbs, was also highlighted this year as she has been leading a Women In Web3 group in the South Florida region. She spoke about her journey into web3, as well as, the opportunities it creates, especially for women in the space.

A common discussion throughout the day was on the topic of capital.

Sarah Lucas, COO of New World Angels, a venture capital and private equity firm based in Boca Raton, stated “The Synapse Florida Summit 2022 was an absolute whirlwind of connection, inspiration, innovation and energy. It was a pleasure to represent New World Angels and take part in a panel discussion. . .  discussing the top investment trends driving Florida’s growth and highlighted some of the challenges that will need to be addressed to make this growth sustainable, equitable and lasting.”

South Florida Tech Hub CEO, Nikki Cabus, had the opportunity to discuss “Florida’s Innovation & Opportunity” with panelists Melissa Medina, President of eMerge Americas, David Adelson, Executive Director of IT at Orlando Economic Partnership, and CEO and Co-Founder of Synapse, Brian Kornfeld.

As each spoke of everything in our respective geographic areas from transportation to talent to influx of capital, the idea of not just ‘cooperating, but truly collaborating’ as a region was offered. “Many of the issues we face are not regional, but statewide and only solvable when working together towards a common goal,” said Nikki.

Another area spotlighted was ocean technology or “bluetech” with an eye-opening panel discussion on how ‘BlueTech is Saving Our Oceans.’

Included in this panel was CEO & Founder of The Seaworthy Collective, Daniel Kleinman, who spoke about the many companies who are driving innovation for a regenerative economy.

“Representing #BlueTech and #ClimateTech as part of the future of Florida innovation is not only important for representation, but for inspiring both current and aspiring innovators,” says Daniel.

“It’s critical for stakeholders and organizations alike to have the opportunity to get connected and catalyze the growth of Florida’s innovation ecosystem; especially for taking on the biggest problems facing our state with regard to climate change and sea level rise. BlueTech is truly reaching the mainstream both figuratively and literally. From a robust turnout for our panel, to having the opportunity to pitch and be recognized as a finalist on the main stage, we’re excited to see BlueTech cement its place in the future of Florida innovation.”

Seaworthy Collective was also a 2022 Synapse Innovation Awards Finalist.

With exactly 5662 in attendance, 3 keynotes, 182 breakout speakers, 51 sessions, and almost 300 exhibitors this was Synapse Summit’s largest event to date.

Jus a few of the speakers and exhibitors who represented South Florida during the day were:

  • Eric Aaronson | Investment Analyst, Mark Cuban Companies
  • Michelle Abbs | VP of Community & Education, Metagood
  • Nikki Cabus | CEO, South Florida Tech Hub
  • Felecia Hatcher | CEO, Black Ambition & Co-Founder, The Center for Black Innovation
  • Daniel Kleinman | Founder & CEO, The Seaworthy Collective
  • Shane Vander Kooi | VP, South Florida, HADO USA (see arena in main image)
  • Lisa Lou | VPof Strategy and Technology, ADT
  • Sarah Lucas | COO, New World Angels
  • Manny Medina | Founder, eMerge Americas
  • Melissa Medina | President, eMerge Americas
  • Pedro Sostre | CEO, Navigate Capital
  • Crystal Stiles | Senior Director, Economic Development , Florida Power & Light
  • Jeanine Suah | XIR, Thynk Global
  • Jeff Weisbein | Founder, Hype Lab
  • John Wensveen | Executive Director, Alan B. Levan NSU Broward Center of Innovation

Lauren Prager, Synapse’s Chief Strategy Officer, summarized the week well: “We are so proud of what we all accomplished coming together under one roof at Synapse Summit this year – it truly was a celebration of Florida innovation! We moved the needle in a big way and showed the world that “Innovation Lives Here!”


South Florida represents in a big way at Synapse Summit 2022