South Florida Tech HubSouth Florida Tech Hub

By Nikki Cabus

GrowFL celebrates top 50 second-stage companies in Florida at 13th annual awards

Read Time 6 Minutes

The 13th GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch Awards Celebration honored 50 outstanding second-stage companies from throughout the state for their innovation, growth, and communit impact. 

The annual event was held February 15th, 2024 at the Hard Rock Live, Universal CityWalk in Orlando, Florida with Duke Energy Florida, a subsidiary of Duke Energy Corporation, as this year’s presenting sponsor.

GrowFL, through diverse programs and services, provides proven methods to help overcome unique challenges facing second-stage companies as they grow. The organization is Florida’s only organization focused exclusively on supporting second-stage businesses. The awards program honors impressive second-stage companies from throughout the state for developing valuable products and services, creating quality jobs, enriching communities, and broadening new industries throughout Florida.

Second-stage growth companies have at least 6 employees and $750,000 in revenue and possess the intent and desire to grow beyond second-stage. This small but mighty group of companies make up only 12% of the businesses in Florida yet create 34% of the jobs in our state. In fact, from 2019 to 2022, the 13th Annual GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch Honorees generated close to 2 billion dollars in revenue and created more than 870 jobs. These businesses, beyond their startup phase, play a significant role in boosting regional economies.

50 honorees were selected after a final round of judging by a panel comprised of past honorees, economic development leaders and corporate partners of GrowFL. Companies were judged on a number of criteria including growth in number of employees; impact of the business in the job market; increase in sales and/or unit volume; current and past financial reports; innovativeness of the product or service; response to adversity; and contributions to aid community-oriented projects.

 

“GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch was designed to celebrate the spirit of entrepreneurship and to shine a spotlight on the most deserving companies,” said Jennifer Taylor, president, and CEO of GrowFL.

“Second-stage businesses are the lifeblood of our state’s economy, driving innovation, creating jobs, and fueling prosperity. This year’s Honorees span 20 different counties, represent 18 different industries and 32% of them are woman, veteran, or minority owned. This diverse group of honorees can only mean one thing – Florida is the place where entrepreneurs thrive!”

Of the 50 honorees, there were five companies from South Florida represented. Those companies are:

  • Hollywood Woodwork (Broward) – manuafacturing
  • Pointer Construction Group (Broward) – construction
  • Spot Pet Insurance (Miami-Dade) – finance & insurance
  • Streann Media (Miami-Dade) – information technology
  • Weedoo Greenboat, Inc. (Palm Beach) – manuafacturing

South Florida Tech Hub member company, Streann Media, took home an award. Their Founder and CEO, Gio Punzo, made a ststement on social media, “We are super excited about the award that we received. Thank you, GrowFL, for giving us the award and having us attend the wonderful event.”

“What’s amazing about the reward is not just about the products that we have created that are touching millions of users. It’s about the jobs that our technology has created. Millions of people around the world are using our technology, but there’s thousands of people that are working thanks to the technology that we built. We are very blessed that through our technologies, our company is helping communities around the world create new jobs. We are forever grateful.”

“As Chair of GrowFL’s Advisory Board, I am honored to witness the remarkable growth and ongoing success of Florida’s businesses year after year,” said Pete Previte.

“These companies truly embody the true spirit of entrepreneurship and resilience. Like the 600 Honorees before them, they have overcome challenges, continued to innovate, and successfully lead their team. Their inspiring stories of triumph stand as a testament to the exceptional business environment that thrives here in Florida. It is our privilege to celebrate them and their remarkable achievements.”

As an annual awards celebration since 2011, GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch celebrates growing second-stage companies headquartered in Florida. Companies to Watch was developed by the Edward Lowe Foundation as a unique way to recognize and honor second-stage companies that demonstrate high performance in the marketplace with innovative strategies and processes, making them “worth watching.” To date, 650 companies across the state have been recognized as Honorees. Many of the past honorees have now grown their companies to stage 3 and stage 4 businesses employing more than 500.

In his congratulatory letter to the 13th Annual GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch Honorees, Dan Wyant, President and Chairman of the Edward Lowe Foundation, highlighted how second-stage companies are truly our most valuable players.

“Historically, this group has been underserved in economic-development circles where the majority of effort and investment is spent on recruiting large companies from other regions or states. Yet when it comes to job creation, second-stagers punch above their weight, generating more than double their market share. Case in point: In 2022 second-stage companies represented 16% of all business establishments in the United States, but they generated 38.5% of all jobs, according to YourEconomy.org. This is even more pronounced in Florida, where second-stagers made up only 11.9% of the state’s companies in 2022 but represented 34% of all jobs.” You can read the full letter here.

The Edward Lowe Foundation was established in 1985 by Ed and Darlene Lowe to leverage entrepreneurship as a strategy for economic growth and community development. The foundation’s entrepreneurship initiatives focus on second-stage companies, which are growth-oriented firms that have moved beyond startup but have not yet reached maturity. Its peer learning, leadership education, and strategic information programs are geared to help these companies continue growing.

Below is the list of the companies named 13th Annual GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch Honorees:

Company Name County Industry
Alternative Repair & Machining Services Duval Other Services (except Public Administration)
AME International Hernando Wholesale Trade
Aspire Communications Seminole Telecommunications
Baker Design Build Duval Construction
Billed Right LLC Seminole Other Services (except Public Administration)
BlueWind Technology LLC Escambia Manufacturing
Charter Research Sumter Scientific Research and Development
Cigent Technology Inc. Lee Information Technology
Continuum Health IT St. Johns Scientific and Technical Consulting Services
Cromulence LLC Brevard Scientific Research and Development
DACKOR Orange Manufacturing
Data Graphics Inc. Lake Manufacturing
Delamere Industries Inc Hernando Manufacturing
Design Interactive, Inc. Orange Scientific Research and Development
Fort Myers Brewing Company Lee Manufacturing
Fox Logistics Bradford Transportation and Warehousing
GRACE Aerospace, LLC Duval Manufacturing
HOLLYWOOD WOODWORK Broward Manufacturing
Integrated Security Consultants Hillsborough Utilities
INTELLITEC PRODUCTS LLC Volusia Manufacturing
International Insulation Products Orange Manufacturing
Kinley Construction Brevard Construction
KMI International Orange Other Services (except Public Administration)
Macrocap Labs Seminole Manufacturing
Mainstream Engineering Corporation Brevard Manufacturing
Martin Aquatic Orange Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services
Martinez Construction Services Brevard Construction
McGaw.io Orange Management Consulting Services
NLP Logix Duval Information Technology
Nona Scientific Laboratory Marion Health Care and Social Assistance
Optimus Energy Solutions Lake Construction
Paragon Cyber Solutions, LLC Hillsborough Information Technology
Pem-Air Turbine Engine Services Hernando Manufacturing
Pointer Construction Group Broward Construction
Pro-Tec Plumbing Collier Other Services (except Public Administration)
ProfileGorilla Duval Information/Media
PVM, Inc. Pinellas Information Technology
Spot Pet Insurance Miami-Dade Finance and Insurance
SSM Enterprises Duval Manufacturing
Streann Miami-Dade Information Technology
SunBlest Gardens Wakulla Wholesale Trade
SwiftPaws Brevard Retail Trade
SYL Roofing Supply Orange Wholesale Trade
Tech Rage IT Seminole Information Technology
The Association Partner St. Johns Advertising, Public Relations, and Related Services
Thompson Pump Volusia Manufacturing
TruPoint Communication Solutions Seminole Telecommunications
Volt Lighting Hillsborough Manufacturing
Weedoo Greenboat, Inc. Palm Beach Manufacturing
Young Innovators Academy Seminole Educational Services

By Nikki Cabus

FPL announces completion of Florida’s first ever clean hydrogen hub of its kind

Read Time 5 Minutes

Earlier this month, Florida Power & Light announced the completion of its clean hydrogen hub, the Cavendish NextGen Hydrogen Hub.

The Cavendish NextGen Hdrogen Hub is FPL’s pilot clean hydrogen facility located in Okeechobee County, Florida and the first clean hydrogen plant of its kind in the Sunshine State. This important pilot project will allow FPL to learn more about clean fuels and their potential benefits to customers.

As America’s largest electric utility, Florida Power & Light serves more customers and sells more power than any other utility, providing clean, affordable, reliable electricity to approximately 5.9 million accounts, or more than 12 million people. FPL operates one of the most fuel efficient and cleanest power generation fleets in the U.S. and in 2022 won the ReliabilityOne® National Reliability Award for the seventh time in the last eight years. The company was also recognized by Escalent in 2022 as one of the most trusted U.S. electric utilities for the ninth consecutive year.

FPL is a subsidiary of Juno Beach, Florida-based NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NEE), a clean energy company widely recognized for its efforts in sustainability, corporate responsibility, ethics and compliance, and diversity. NextEra Energy is ranked No. 1 in the electric and gas utilities industry in Fortune’s 2023 list of “World’s Most Admired Companies” and recognized on Fortune’s 2021 list of companies that “Change the World.” NextEra Energy is also the parent company of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, which, together with its affiliated entities, is the world’s largest generator of renewable energy from the wind and sun and a world leader in battery storage.

“Today marks another important step forward as we further our commitment to fostering a clean and cost-effective energy future that benefits our customers and Florida, ” said Armando Pimentel, FPL President and CEO.

The $65 million facility broke ground in December 2022, and just over a year later this “green energy” facility aims to significantly reduces carbon emissions while producing energy. FPL’s Cavendish NextGen Hydrogen Hub will help the company explore using clean hydrogen to offset the use of natural gas to run a traditional power plant. Built with state-of-the-art technology, the hydrogen hub pilot project draws from Florida’s most abundant natural resources – water and solar – to produce clean hydrogen.

The hydrogen hub draws solar power from a nearby FPL site. A portion of clean energy flows directly to the energy grid, while the rest powers hydrogen production equipment called electrolyzers. The hydrogen is then compressed, stored and blended with natural gas. For this project, a 5% blend of hydrogen will be tested in one of the three natural gas combustion turbines on site. Blending 5% hydrogen with natural gas will allow the company to learn more about clean hydrogen and explore ways to provide low-cost, clean energy to FPL’s customers.

“Hydrogen is a ‘no brainer’ for Florida,” said Dr. Arif Sarwat, Eminent Scholar Chair Professor at Florida International University and Director of the FPL-FIU solar facility. “As the most abundant element on earth it can be stored as an energy source that can be used whether or not the sun is shining.”

As the FPL Cavendish Solar Energy Center operates, a portion of solar energy will flow directly to the grid to serve customers, while the rest will go to power hydrogen production equipment, including a series of electrolyzers. Each electrolyzer splits water into its two basic elements: hydrogen and oxygen. The oxygen is released harmlessly into the air, while the hydrogen will be compressed, stored and blended with natural gas, and used as fuel to produce electricity that will provide affordable and clean energy for FPL customers across the grid.

“We’ve been on a journey to cleaner and more cost-effective fuels, moving from oil to natural gas and now we’re exploring how to move from natural gas to carbon-free,” Stevany Cole, Director of Development at FPL, said, referring to FPL’s power plant modernizations over the last two decades which have effectively slashed air emissions and saved customers billions of dollars in avoided fuel costs.

Eight years ago, Cole transitioned from working at a papermill harvesting trees for consumer products to helping build a more resilient and cost-effective grid with FPL. Cole is proud to be part of something greater than herself.

“It’s always interesting looking back on where I started my career to now being here, making history in Florida. Eventually my generation will be gone. Then, my children will be the ones left with their own kids,” she said. “I can only hope to leave the planet a better place for them.”

“What we discover could eventually help us hedge against the volatility and cost of fuel,” said Tim Oliver, Vice President of Development at FPL. “This is about creating more options for affordable and clean electricity for Florida.”

The FPL Cavendish NextGen Hydrogen Hub will help the company maximize learning opportunities as it continues to pursue its Real Zero goal of decarbonizing its power-generation by 2045 at the latest. Watch the video below to find out how FPL is capturing the sun’s energy with millions of solar panels and advancing a first-of-its-kind clean hydrogen project to help stabilize energy costs, eliminate carbon emissions and make Florida energy independent.

By Nikki Cabus

FloridaMakes Bring the Veteran Advantage to the Workplace Initiative Connects Veterans to Manufacturing

Read Time 3 Minutes

FloridaMakes proudly announces the launch of a groundbreaking workforce program in sync with Governor DeSantis’ goal of enhancing employment and educational opportunities for veterans, active military members, and their families.

This initiative, “Bring the Veteran Advantage to the Workplace” is specifically designed to seamlessly connect transitioning servicemembers with lucrative manufacturing apprenticeship occupations, further solidifying Florida’s commitment to supporting our nation’s heroes.

FloridaMakes is a statewide, industry-led, public-private partnership operated by an alliance of Florida’s regional manufacturers associations and partner organizations with the sole mission of strengthening and advancing Florida’s economy by improving the competitiveness, productivity, and technological performance of its manufacturing sector, with an emphasis on small and medium-sized firms. It accomplishes this by providing services focused on three principal value streams: technology adoption, talent development, and business growth. FloridaMakes is the representative of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) National Network in the state of Florida, a program of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The program is funded through The Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant (PCOG), administered by the Florida Department of Education (FDOE). This initiative gives Florida manufacturers the opportunity to bring the veteran advantage to their workplace, through the Department of Defense’s (DoD) SkillBridge and to develop and prepare their future workforce with industry-driven, high-quality career pathways through registered apprenticeships that provide post-secondary education and lead to industry recognized certifications. Florida manufacturers, through this program, can enroll and provide upskilling opportunities to their existing veteran workforce.

“Through this initiative, we’re poised to connect the innovation-driven needs of the manufacturing sector with the discipline, leadership, and technical acumen of our veterans. We are not just filling jobs; we are forging career pathways.” said Marcelo DosSantos, Director for Workforce Development at FloridaMakes.

Orion Talent, a recognized leader in military hiring solutions, will play a crucial role in recruiting and coordinating interviews with manufacturers throughout Florida. Orion Talent’s HireSkills program combines industry certification training and transition assistance, providing a seamless transition for servicemembers into promising careers in the manufacturing sector.

This initiative not only addresses the skill gap in the manufacturing sector but also enhances the diversity and innovation of the workforce by integrating the unique experiences and perspectives of veterans. Companies can also take advantage of the program to upskill existing veterans in their workforce.

“The Florida SkillBridge Initiative creates unprecedented opportunities to build a highly skilled talent pipeline for manufacturing employers while attracting transitioning servicemembers across the country to Florida,” said Joe Marino, Executive Director of Veterans Florida. “As the state’s principal Department of Defense SkillBridge awareness and assistance organization, we are proud to work with FloridaMakes to ensure experienced veterans continue to choose our state as their home.”

Veterans Florida is a nonprofit created by the State of Florida to help military veterans and their families transition to civilian life. And promote Florida’s status as the nation’s most veteran-friendly state under Florida’s Veterans Employment and Training Services (VETS) Program. Veterans Florida is also the state’s designated DOD Skillbridge assistance organization. Thgeir mission can be summed up in the theme – Your Pursuit.Our Power – because we recognize military veterans are incredibly focused and will success achieving their personal and professional goals when they take advantage of our tools and resources.

Florida’s continued ascent in the manufacturing sector at becoming one of the leading manufacturing states in the nation, complemented by its status as the state with the third-largest veteran population in the country, reveals an exceptional opportunity for Florida’s manufacturers to recognize and tap into the remarkable, yet underutilized, reservoir of talent that veterans represent.

For more information about program, visit: https://www.floridamakes.com/featured-programs/pathways-to-career-opportunity

By Nikki Cabus

FAU offering free course to military veterans who want to become business owners

Read Time 3 Minutes

Military veterans hoping to start or grow a business can learn the basics through a free course offered by Florida Atlantic University’s Adams Center for Entrepreneurship.

The FAU Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program (VFEP) consists of workshops and networking sessions to help veterans determine whether their ideas, businesses, products or services are marketable to the general public. It will take place every Tuesday and Thursday, beginning Oct. 24 through Nov. 16, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., at FAU’s College of Business Building, Room 112, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton campus.

Participants will produce and complete a business model and be paired with an entrepreneur mentor to guide them through the program. To register, click here.

“Creating a business is a dream for many Americans, and this is a vitally important program that gives veterans the opportunity to learn what it takes to start, run and maintain a successful venture,” said Kevin Cox, Ph.D., director of the Adams Center.

The program is in partnership with Veterans Florida, a nonprofit organization created by the State of Florida to help military veterans transition to civilian life and to promote Florida’s status as the nation’s most veteran-friendly state. The FAU Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program is completely funded by Veterans Florida. Veterans Florida provides powerful tools for veterans to take advantage of the benefits of living and working in the Sunshine State.

This 8-week entrepreneurship course is a comprehensive educational program designed for current or future business owners providing Veterans the knowledge and skills they need for starting and/or growing their businesses. In addition to the in-depth educational program, all participants are paired with a successful entrepreneur who provides direct guidance and mentorship throughout the program and beyond.

The classes are open to Florida residents who are honorably discharged veterans, active-duty members or members of the United States Reserves. It also is open to spouses who attend with another participant who meets the qualifications.

Those who successfully complete the course will be eligible to enter FAU’s Business Pitch Competition for veterans in spring 2024. The annual event gives prospective entrepreneurs the chance to compete for startup seed funding.

This is the ninth consecutive year that FAU has hosted VFEP, but the first time offering a startup course in the fall. Past participants of FAU’s VFEP include Steve Edwards, owner of Premier Virtual; Logan Skees, of Valdaeon; and Jonathan Borgwing, CEO of LearnVig.

“It’s great having a lengthy and successful history,” Cox said. “We now benefit from an extensive network of alumni who support the program.”

Each year the program invites local CEOs and business professionals to present their startup ideas as part of their ‘pitch competition. Last year, one of the program’s winners was Steven Edwards, a U.S. Army Veteran in the 82nd Airborne Division and former Florida National Guard. He completed the program in 2020 and one of the program’s winners. Not only did Steve’s company win the pitch contest at the local level, but he also went on to win at the national level, which earned him additional funding and resources.

“Through the Florida Veterans Entrepreneurship Program, I not only found the tools to build and run a successful business but a community that understood the unique challenges veterans face when transitioning to entrepreneurship,” said Edwards.

“This program didn’t just change my life; it empowered me to shape my own destiny. Winning the annual VFEP Statewide pitch competition was the icing on the cake, showcasing the program’s incredible capacity to turn veteran entrepreneurs into success stories. Like every program, the more you put in it, the more you get out of it.”

Just last month, Edwards announced that Premier Virtual has been acquired by the global firm Careerminds.

The FAU Adams Center prepares students and entrepreneurs in all disciplines who are looking to become successful business owners. It was named in 2001 for Scott Adams, an FAU Tech Runway alumnus and CEO and co-founder of STRAX Intelligence Group.

For more information about FAU’s VFEP, contact the Adams Center at Adamscenter@fau.edu or 561-297-3653.

 

By Nikki Cabus

Hollywood-based custom enterprise mobility leader Social Mobile hires Ronald Hans

Read Time 2 Minutes

Social Mobile announced the appointment of Ronald Hans as Vice President of Business Development & Partnerships. 

Social Mobile is an enterprise mobility solutions provider who designs, engineers, and manages custom mobility solutions for clients in all industries from healthcare to retail to defense. Their team of certified Android Enterprise experts work to deliver a fully custom mobility solution that includes hardware, software, managed mobility services, connectivity, and more.  

Founded in 2011 by current CEO, Robert Morcos, and is headquartered in Hollywood, Florida. Our team of accredited Android Enterprise experts span the globe with offices, warehouses, and facilities in multiple countries ensuring high-quality solutions with full supply chain visibility. Social Mobile is the only US-based OEM with a pure focus on custom enterprise mobility.

Ronald expressed his excitement, stating, “I am honored to be a part of the Social Mobile team and look forward to contributing to its continued success. Social Mobile has a strong reputation as a leader in enterprise mobility, and I am eager to start driving new business opportunities and expand our partnerships.” 

With over 25 years of experience in the mobility sector spanning across the USA, LATAM, MENA, and APAC, Ronald Hans brings a proven track record of fostering strategic partnerships and driving business growth. 

Before joining Social Mobile, Ronald Hans spent over 7 years contributing to the success of venture-backed, early-stage tech companies across a diverse range of sectors, including AI, enterprise SaaS, and supply chain technologies. Prior to that, he served as the Vice President of Markets at PCS Wireless from 2009 to 2018, expanding the business to 80+ countries and over $1B in annual revenue. 

Throughout his career, Ronald has collaborated with leading original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), mobile network operators (MNOs), and retailers, covering major commercial regions and sales channels worldwide. 

Founder and CEO of Social Mobile Robert Morcos shared his enthusiasm about the new addition to the leadership team saying, “We are delighted to welcome Ronald Hans on board. His background and strategic insights into the telecom industry align perfectly with our growth goals. I believe Ronald will be instrumental in taking our business to new heights.” 

Social Mobile’s commitment to innovation, growth, and fostering partnerships remains steadfast, and the addition of Ronald Hans to its leadership team signifies a new chapter of expansion and collaboration. 

To learn more about Social Mobile’s leadership team, please visit https://socialmobile.com/about/

By Nikki Cabus

FPL’s Classroom Makeover Grant Program helps underserved classroom access STEM education across Florida

Read Time 4 Minutes

Florida Power & Light‘s Classroom Makeover Grant Program has transformed another five classroom across the state of Florida. 

As part of a $1 million, 4-year commitment from its charitable arm, the NextEra Energy Foundation, works to advance STEM curriculum, increase the exposure of Black students to STEM education and jumpstart students’ interest in STEM careers. Each year through 2024, five schools are selected in FPL’s service area to receive the $50,000 grant.

The grants are intended to provide transformational learning opportunities for Black students in classroom settings, as all recipient schools are comprised of at least 25% Black students. The Classroom Makeover Grant program and funds are available to directly addresses needs in infrastructure, technology or resources (i.e., software, equipment, books, training of teachers, tutors, paraprofessionals).

“Our STEM Classroom Makeover Grant allows us to invest in our next generation to help provide transformational learning opportunities for Black students in a STEM classroom setting,” said Pamela Rauch, Vice President of External Affairs & Economic Development for FPL, in a previous interview.

“We are excited that these projects will be one of the first, as we complete our inaugural year of implementing this grant, which allows us to support both educators and students, our next generation of leaders.”

Congratulations to this year’s 2022-2023 winning classrooms in Florida:

FPL’s five classroom makeover grant recipients in Florida for the 2022 inaugural year were:

Cypress Run Education Center School, an alternative school in Broward County, invested in a multimedia technology lab, web design programs, TV production arrangements, coding software, robotics education and Microsoft certifications. South Florida Tech Hub had the honor of being invited to their most recent student Hackathon hosted by STEM teacher, Ms. Osas Guis-Obaseki and Principal Harrigan.

Ms. Osas has spearheaded a STEM Club that meets biweekly to expose students to programming and the computer science field. She has given students the opportunity to to build computers, learn coding and programming, and gain skills using digital tools. Ms. O hosts quarterly Hackathons where students demonstrate their coding skills and compete with other students.

Under her leadership, students have complete the Microsoft certifications in HTML and CSS Programming, Website Design, and MS Office. She has also been able to collaborate with additional industry partners such as CloudHesive, Oracle, ReGenerate Tech, and many more.

Ms. Osas got in touch with South Florida Tech Hub in 2022 as a volunteer at the annual TECHpalooza in Broward County where she also brought students to educate them on the importance of networking, giving back and getting exposure to tech professionals in South Florida.

Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School in Riviera Beach was also one of five schools in Florida to be awarded a Classroom Makeover Grant from FPL last year to advance STEM curriculum, increase the exposure of Black students to STEM education and jumpstart students’ interest in STEM careers. The $50,000 grant that the school received supported a variety of professional education resources, including computers, robot lab packs, aerodynamics sets, and renewable energy education kits. See the full WPTV update here.

“As a Title 1 school with a 98% Black population, we are committed to providing children of color with vast learning opportunities and exposure to STEM education and careers,” Katrina W. Granger, the principal at Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School, said.

“We are so appreciative of FPL’s commitment to diversity in STEM, which has made the vision of hardworking and inspiring STEM educator with big dreams, Tracy Howard, come to fruition. This grant will support both Mrs. Howard and her scholars achieve their greatest dream.”

This grant is open to all public, private and charter schools and all grade levels in FPL’s service area in Florida. Grants are also available to schools in areas served by FPL’s sister company NextEra Energy Resources. As with all foundation grants, no customer dollars are involved.

Schools can apply now for the next grant cycle. Applications are now open and will close October 15, 2023! 

  Read more

By Nikki Cabus

Finalists Announced for the 13th Annual GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch

Read Time 3 Minutes

GrowFL just announced the Finalists for the 13th Annual Florida Companies to Watch Awards and nine South Florida and Treasure Coast companies made the list!

A prestigious recognition program celebrating high-performing second-stage companies that demonstrate innovative business strategies and excellent potential for future growth, the 13th Annual GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch is brought to you by Duke Energy and Nperspective CFO & Strategic Services, in association with the Edward Lowe Foundation.

Companies to Watch is a unique way to acknowledge the remarkable achievements of second-stage companies that contribute significantly to the state’s economic vitality. These companies have successfully navigated through challenges and exhibited outstanding entrepreneurial leadership and innovation, creating a positive impact on their communities and industries. Since 2011, GrowFL has recognized 600 companies with this prestigious award. Many of the past honorees have now grown their companies to stage 3 and stage 4 businesses employing more than 500.

More than 150,000 high-growth second stage companies headquartered in Florida represent nearly 4 Million jobs. That’s almost 30% of the jobs from less than 5% of the state. Second stage companies are no longer worried about failing, but focused on growth and job creation bringing real economic impact to their geographic regions.

To qualify for the award, companies must have between 6 and 150 employees and revenue between $750,000 and $100 million in 2022. The finalists were selected from more than 550 nominations from throughout Florida and represent a diverse group of growing companies representing a variety of industries. Together, they reported a total of more than 2,770 jobs and generated close to $813 million in revenue in 2022. These companies anticipate growth of 29 percent in revenue and 21 percent in employment by the end of 2023.

“The companies selected as Finalists are a testament to the resilience and creativity of Florida’s entrepreneurs. They are thriving in an ever-changing business landscape, and their accomplishments inspire others to strive for excellence,” said Jennifer Taylor, president and CEO of GrowFL.

“Each finalist has demonstrated outstanding growth and innovation, positioning them as leaders within their industries. We are honored, year after year, to celebrate the outstanding success of the entrepreneurs in our state.”

One of the second-stage company Finalists in the running is Streann Media, a content-creation and streaming company, disrupting the content landscape. The company has built the most complete OTT platform in the world with a powerful Content Management System, Content App Editor and 150 tools to distribute, engage and monetize live and on demand content. Streann’s innovations include proprietary integration with Artificial Intelligence and Patent Technologies for Monetization. The Miami-based company has won multiple industry awards, has millions of active users and has been deployed in 141 countries.

Founder and CEO of Streann Media, Gio Punzo, told South Florida Tech Hub, “We are thrilled to be selected as a Finalist for the GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch Awards. This reconfirms the dedication and expertise of our talented team who consistently strive to provide innovative solutions and exceptional service to our clients.”

He continued, “We are delighted to be a part of Florida’s thriving business community and look forward to continuing our growth trajectory. We have grown to 70 million unique viewers in 141 countries around the world thanks to our breakthrough technology made in Florida.”

Finalists undergo a second round of judging before the top 50 companies are selected and emerge as Honorees. Honorees will be announced in early October and will be recognized at the awards ceremony on Thursday, February 15, 2024, at the Hard Rock Live, Universal CityWalk in Orlando, Florida. Tickets will go on sale in September.

GrowFL is driven by one goal – to cultivate second-stage growth companies across the state. Second-stage companies are the backbone of Florida’s economy and the definition of economic success and prosperity. Through our diverse programs and services, GrowFL provides proven methods to help overcome unique challenges facing second-stage companies as they grow.

Congratulations to the 12th Annual GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch Finalists from South Florida & Treasure Coast:

  • Flexxbuy (St. Lucie)
  • HelixVM (Palm Beach)
  • Hollywood Woodwork, Inc. (Broward)
  • Loupe Tech, Inc (Miami-Dade)
  • Pointer Construction Group LLC. (Broward)
  • PUR-FORM (Palm Beach)
  • Spot Pet Insurance, LLC. (Miami-Dade)
  • Streann Media (Miami-Dade)
  • Weedoo Greenboat, Inc. (Palm Beach)

To view the full list of Finalists, click here.

By Nikki Cabus

FAU Tech Runway announces the 16 startups of cohort 12

Read Time 3 Minutes

FAU Tech Runway® recently announced the 16 companies accepted to participate in the 12th cohort of its Venture Program.

FAU Tech Runway is a South Florida public-private partnership that serves as a hub to accelerate technology development and incubate startup companies. The Venture Program provides the most promising startups and talented entrepreneurs in South Florida with an opportunity to join a year-long program that offers resources from FAU’s Innovation and Business Development pipeline, entrepreneurial instruction, structured team-based mentoring, networking, marketing and capital-raising assistance, co-working space, events, intern support, and other vital programs.

Companies accepted into the Venture Program must have strategic alignment with FAU’s research focus areas, including drone technologies; educational technologies; environmental science; marine science; ocean engineering; neuroscience; healthy aging; big data analytics; artificial intelligence; machine learning; cyber security; sensing; and smart systems.

The 16 companies in Venture Class 12 are:

  • Clinical Fitness provides a safe environment where clients can be guided and educated by medical professionals in the proper use of gym equipment.
  • DashOne is a developing wearable tech that empowers athletes to improve their form and performance in real time through reinforcement cues and in-depth analytics.
  • DealHero, LLC is a web platform designed to connect military, veterans and first responders with businesses that support them by offering deals and discounts on their products and services.
  • Glowby Lightbulbs are patent-pending, long-lasting, rechargeable lightbulbs for places where running wiring is impossible or impractical. Install lighting fixtures anywhere and have easy, instant light that can last years before requiring a recharge.
  • Housing Nonprofit is a platform connecting renters with housing grants to purchase a home. Their technology analyzes the requirements for all incentives to buy a house and allow users to check eligibility for all programs via a single form.
  • HUMM STAFFING is an app platform that connects healthcare professionals with hospital shift work.
  • Integral Vista Solutions is a company that provides innovative technological solutions to improve the efficiency and profitability of residential service companies.
  • Kastaco connects talent such as models, actors, voice-over artists, singers and musicians with valuable opportunities.
  • MM COMMUNICA INC is a digital public relations firm dedicated to helping small businesses and personal brands improve their reputation and authority online.
  • Printed Patio uses concrete 3D printing to generate bespoke landscape and architectural features.
  • Puttrax 360 is golf’s first AR gaming and training experience for putting, where computer vision technology automatically tracks and scores every putt.
  • RideGuide is an app that provides a highly customized library to educate drivers on the proper use and operation of features and technology in their cars using videos, searchable manuals and how-to guides.
  • SecureTec ID is a software mobile application that uses biometric data gathered from contactless fingerprints for the community and policing. It also provides identification and additional intel, utilizing numerous databases, to promote and encourage safety.
  • Telly College LLC empowers students to maximize their college experience, by use of daily on- and off-campus events with voting and attendance stats.
  • Therapy in a Click aims to establish a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that uplifts mental health care accessibility by offering free virtual therapy sessions with licensed mental health professionals to high school students within Palm Beach County.
  • Wisp Energy LLC (WE) will employ a proprietary Dual Axis Wind Turbine (DAWT) using advanced AI and ML to improve wind turbine performance, adding variables to the wind interaction and yielding improvements of more than 30 percent in efficiency and/or ROI.

Venture Class 12 participants join a robust community of fellow entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, instructors and top-level support professionals.

FAU Tech Runway® is a public-private partnership formed to incubate and accelerate early-stage technology-based companies, under the purview of FAU’s Division of Research . Applications for the next cycle of the Venture Program will open in Fall 2023.

For more information on FAU Tech Runway® Venture Program, visit https://www.fau.edu/techrunway/tech-runway-venture-program/

By Nikki Cabus

IMLS invests more than $31 Million in grants to museums across America including Ft. Lauderdale’s MODS

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Just this month, The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced the Museum of Discovery and Science (MODS) in Fort Lauderdale as one of eight recipients of the 2023 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries that make significant and exceptional contributions to their communities.

IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. IMLS envisions a nation where individuals and communities have access to museums and libraries to learn from and be inspired by the trusted information, ideas, and stories they contain about our diverse natural and cultural heritage.

Over the past 29 years, the award has celebrated institutions that are making a difference for individuals, families and communities. This year’s grant awards total over a whopping $31 million for museums across the nation to improve services to their communities.

Through the agency’s largest competitive grant program, Museums for America, and its special initiatives, Museums Empowered and Inspire! Grants for Small Museums, a total of 218 projects were selected from 568 applications requesting $73,685,100. Institutions receiving awards are matching them with $46,546,077 in non-federal funds.

“It is a delight to announce the Museums for America grants for 2023 to an extraordinary group of Museums, Gardens, Zoos, and Aquariums. These funds will in turn put the riches of our cultural institutions in reach of so many of our communities,” said IMLS Director Crosby Kemper.

“The Museum welcomes individuals from all walks of life to visit, experience, connect, and discover inspiring science. MODS’ inclusivity and accessibility programs have a direct impact on the south Florida community, especially children.”

Crosby Kemper is the sixth director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. He was commissioned by the White House on January 24, 2020, following his confirmation by the United States Senate. IMLS, an independent government agency, is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s museums and libraries.

Founded in 1976 as the Discovery Center, today the Museum of Discovery & Science, or “MODS,” is at the forefront of science education, innovation and exploration. The mission of MODS is Connecting People to Inspiring Science. Through our mission, MODS elevates the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) in our lives, impacting more than 450,000 visitors annually.

The Museum embraces six enduring values: DISCOVERY through inquiry-based learning experiences; INCLUSIVITY in which equity and access are vital to success; COLLABORATION in pursuit of mission-based public and private partnerships; CREATIVITY where inspiration and innovation take flight; EDUCATION as an inspirational force for informal science; and VISITOR FOCUSED, fostering a warm and welcoming atmosphere with layers of learning. National recognition from IMLS is meaningful as it signifies the important role MODS has played not only in our region, but as a national leader in the museum field and a model for community engagement and social impact.

Selected from 30 national finalists, the 2023 National Medal for Museum and Library Service winners represent institutions that provide dynamic programming and services that exceed expected levels of service. Through their community outreach, these institutions bring about change that touches the lives of individuals and helps communities thrive.

“To be singled out by IMLS from among the many thousands of museums in the United States is a tribute to our dedicated leadership, outstanding staff, devoted volunteers, generous supporters, and visionary founders who all give of themselves to fulfill our mission. We are grateful to IMLS and this honor will inspire us to do more,” said Joseph P. Cox, president and CEO of MODS.

“MODS is committed to a mission of connecting people to inspiring science for children and adults of all ages and abilities. The Museum is a changemaker, a dynamic hub for STEM learning that builds connections of trust and belonging. Museums are more necessary than ever before as institutions of learning. Together, we foster understanding and change that leads to a more just and healthy future.”

The IMLS award was presented at a ceremony this summer in Washington, DC. The 2023 National Medal for Museum and Library Service Medal Winners are:

Libraries:

  • Kuskokwim Consortium Library (Bethel, AK)
  • LA County Library (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Long Branch Free Public Library (Long Branch, NJ)
  • Toledo Lucas County Public Library (Toledo, OH)

Museums:

  • Center of Science and Industry (COSI) (Columbus, OH)
  • Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum (Buffalo, WY)
  • Museum of Discovery and Science (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
  • Riverside Art Museum (Riverside, CA)

Additional programs funded by IMLS are Museums for AmericaMuseums Empowered, and Inspire! Grants for Small Museums.

MODS, was also recently awarded funds via the Museums for America grant for $240,500. This grant supports projects that strengthen the ability of individual museums to benefit the public by providing high-quality, inclusive learning experiences, maximizing resources to address community needs through partnerships and collaborations, and by preserving and providing access to the collections entrusted to their care. 122 projects were funded through this year’s Museums for America program.

The Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale, Florida will expand its STEMobile program, a mobile maker space program for early learners ages three to five and their caregivers and teachers. The program will serve 123 early learning centers in the 10 lowest-income zip codes in Broward County that are also the most affected by intergenerational poverty, economic immobility, and lowest educational attainment levels. The project will provide interactive STEM experiences for young children aligned with Florida Early Learning and Developmental Standards; a Family Science Night that reinforces the caregiver’s role as their child’s first teacher; and professional development resources that empower teachers to feel more confident about teaching STEM. The project will help reduce disparities in education for vulnerable young learners and help them succeed.

To learn more about MODS, visit https://mods.org/

By Nikki Cabus

Henry Mack appointed as The Southern Group’s education lobbyist and lead consultant

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Florida’s largest lobbying firm, The Southern Group, has hired Henry Mack as an education lobbyist and lead consultant.

The lobbying firm is growing once again offering additional advisory and consulting services in the education sector. Mack, former Florida Department of Education Senior Chancellor, will help lead a full-service consulting practice that will advise clients on a wide array of areas in the education space, focusing on workforce development and higher education.

Henry Mack is joining The Southern Group after a distinguished career in higher education, including serving as the Senior Chancellor at the Florida Department of Education (DOE). Henry brings a wealth of experience in a wide range of areas in the education segment, particularly workforce education and economic development.

As Senior Chancellor at DOE, he was responsible for Florida’s public and nonpublic institutions of higher education—overseeing a $3 billion dollar budget with a combined K-20 student enrollment of $1.5 million annually. He led the Divisions of Florida Colleges, Career and Adult Education, Vocational Rehabilitation, Blind Services, the Florida Department of Education’s Office of Workforce Education and Economic Alignment, and the Commission for Independent Education. Additional responsibilities included  apprenticeships, disability education, employment services and economic development initiatives.

He was directly responsible for the State of Florida’s workforce education strategy, budget, operations, policy and finance, and, together with the Governor’s Office, responsible for all higher education and workforce education legislative and policy priorities. Henry was also responsible for grants and administration such as the $6.2 million in cybersecurity funding received by three South Florida colleges. He was involved in countless others for the state of Florida.

Prior to his appointment at DOE,  Henry served as the Chancellor for the Division of Career and Adult Education. The Division itself is accountable for all career and technical education programs and activity across a system of 48 technical centers and colleges, 28 state community colleges, and K-12 public schools, with a combined enrollment of over 1 million students, annually.

Henry has also held various positions throughout Florida’s higher education system holding multiple faculty positions at Florida International University, University of Miami, and Broward College. At Broward College, Henry served as a Vice President for Workforce Education and Innovation at one of our nation’s largest colleges. He oversaw the college’s career and technical education programs, the development of new baccalaureate degrees, and the college’s business incubator and accelerator.

Recognized as 2019’s South Florida’s 40 under 40, Henry frequently lectures on the future of the workforce, entrepreneurship, and the value of a higher education.

Sheela VanHoose, Education Lobbyist and Partner with The Southern Group-Florida stated, “I’m excited about the continued growth of our education practice and what that means for our clients. No one has the knowledge of the CTE and workforce education space like Henry Mack!”

Sheela VanHoose is also South Florida Tech Hub’s Policy Committee Chair and K-12 Talent Sub-Committee Chair. She recently had Mr. Mack attend a Tech Talent Committee meeting as a guest speaker to address the topic of workforce education, certifications and CTE, and give any updates from the DOE.

A couple of those updates from Henry were:

  • The DOE recently contracted with the University of Florida to do a study on sequencing for certifications with a likelihood of students earning CompTIA certs in high school, enrolling in further education, and using that certification to do accelerated courses.
  • Cap has been removed for using tools at the middle school level allowing schools to be funded at no limit. The DOE is looking at what tools can be used at the middle school level and everyone is looking for new certifications to be added, particularly in artificial intelligence. FL SB240 allocates money that has to be tied to furthering careers within education and cannot be for a new building.
  • Students may be harmed by the Standard Occupational Classification, or “SOC” codes, not being well outlined. SOC codes and certifications should have been coordinated with the higher paying jobs. Choose SOC codes wisely and don’t do too many. Two exams for AI certification are already out there including a pathway and a template.

Henry earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in theology and philosophy from the Catholic University of America and doctorate in education administration and philosophy of education from the University of Miami. Henry currently lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Ashley, and three children, Hadley, Holden, and Arden.

By Nikki Cabus

Boca Raton-based Sage Dental opens 100th high-tech location; elevating efficiency with AI diagnostics

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Sage Dental, the largest dental service organization in South Florida, announced the opening of its 100th high-tech location. 

The Boca Raton-based dental service organization (DSO) is committed to providing consistent, high-quality care, as well as non-clinical business and administrative services to affiliated practices. The 100th office followed its acquisition of the Kendall Dental Care in Miami. As part of the company’s ongoing expansion strategy to increase its presence in the Southeastern United States, this milestone represents a critical moment in the evolution of Sage. Since 2020, Sage has nearly doubled the number of practices in its network in Florida and Georgia and, in terms of locations, it is now the largest DSO operating in south Florida.

“Everyone on our team is very proud to achieve this milestone as Sage Dental continues in its mission to make high-quality, affordable dental care available to an increasing number of families and individuals in the regions that we serve,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Marler.

Sage, which has served more than 1 million patients since 2020, offers general, specialty, and cosmetic dental care, including restorative, prosthodontic, endodontic, pediatric, and orthodontic treatment. As the DSO continues to expand, its leadership team expects to add at least 20 more practices to Sage’s network by the end of 2023.

“Our modern facilities and highly skilled clinicians and support staff, combined with best-in-class dental technologies, have helped to propel our rapid growth. Since Sage was founded more than 25 years ago, dentistry has evolved exponentially, and Sage has continually evolved with it to ensure we deliver patients the best dental care possible,” continued Marler.

As it maintains its focus on future growth, Sage’s dentists, hygienists, and dental support staff will continue providing personalized care combined with the latest tools and technologies – including artificial intelligence (AI) diagnostics – to deliver the best possible oral health care to patients.

In addition to expansion into new regions and the continued growth of its workforce, Sage Dental has established initiatives with its partner Pearl who is leading the global dental AI revolution with groundbreaking computer vision solutions that elevate efficiency, accuracy and the standard of care in dentistry. Pearl is shaping the future of oral healthcare with a suite of FDA-cleared AI solutions developed to elevate the efficiency, accuracy, quality and consistency of dental care. Sage is one of the first DSOs to deploy Pearl’s AI-powered clinical insight solution company-wide, strengthening the standard of patient care across all Sage locations.

“Across all our practices, our team is constantly revisiting ways to help our patients have a better understanding of their oral health and the best treatment options that are available to them,” said Chief Clinical Officer and Senior Vice President Dr. Cindy Roark, DMD, MS. “Using state-of-the-art technologies, our dental professionals foster trust with patients by making more well-informed prognoses and better treatment decisions.”

Last year, Dr. Cindy Roark joined Harvard’s School of Dental Medicine Board of Fellows. In this volunteer role, Dr. Roark joined a group of strategic advisors who serve to further the school’s mission of developing and fostering a community of global leaders dedicated to improving human health by integrating dentistry and medicine at the forefront of education, research and patient care. She has always been an outspoken leader in the deployment of AI-driven solutions to improve the quality of care, accuracy of diagnosis, and overall patient experience.

“Harvard School of Dental Medicine is setting the bar for clinical excellence and innovation in dental technology,” said Dr. Roark. “I am thrilled to be in a position to support its trailblazing mission and to encourage the future leaders of dentistry to explore beyond what is currently believed to be possible in dentistry today.”

“In comparison with some of our competitors, Sage has taken a unique approach to executing our expansion strategy by incorporating, as evenly as possible, a blend of new and acquired practices into our universally branded network,” said Chief Development Officer and Senior Vice President Jim Mizouni. “As we continue to fine-tune and execute our plans to scale the business, our long-term strategy includes expanding into the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions.”

Sage is currently accepting new patients at each of its 100 state-of-the-art practices which offer cutting-edge twenty-first century dental technologies, including teledentistry screening appointments, virtual check-ins, online scheduling, and paperless billing.

For more information on Sage Dental, visit https://mysagedental.com/

By Nikki Cabus

Miami-based Kind Designs wins Florida Venture Forum’s Aerospace + EmergingTech Forum 2023

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The Florida Venture Forum and co-host, Space Florida, hosted the 2023 Aerospace + EmergingTech Forum awarding over $200,000 in cash and VC investment.

The event is a capital acceleration competition and business networking event featuring presentations by some of Florida’s most promising early and mid-stage tech companies bringing together aerospace and tech enthusiasts and investors. The closing reception for the Aerospace Innovation awards was held on June 8th at the newly expanded Groundswell Startup Incubator in Melbourne, Florida. The reception featured speakers, panel discussion, and pitches from the finalists.

The panel discussion featured area tech resources and successfully funded entrepreneurs from companies such as Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Groundswell Startups, Sensatek Propulsion Technology, Inc. and Helicon. It was moderated by Danielle Mousseau, Manager of Economic Development at 35 Mules, an innovation hub started by Florida Power & Light Company (FPL), a subsidiary of NextEra Energy. FPL was the Title Sponsor of the evening.

Florida Venture Forum is Florida’s largest statewide support organization for investors and entrepreneurs, helping fast-growth companies connect with sources of capital from across the country. Since 1984 more than 2000 companies have presented at Forum events and have gone on to raise upwards of $16B in equity capital, producing billions more in economic value to Florida. The Forum’s 250+ members represent a “who’s who” of venture capital and private equity dealmakers, including equity and debt investors at all stages, as well as major law, accounting, and investment banking firms, and large corporates active in the innovation ecosystem.

The finalists were chosen from a pool of over sixty applicants. The panel of investors reviewed each company’s presentation along with additional supporting materials giving insight into the company’s growth potential. Selected presenting companies were innovative and have a focus in aerospace and/or emerging technologies. This year’s event was one of the most competitive to date.

“The selection of companies from the long list of qualified applicants was made by a committed group of early stage investors. A special thanks to the selection committee for their hours of work and an equal thanks to the companies that provided information and presentations, and made this selection process the most competitive to date,” said Ben Patz, Managing Partner of DeepWork Capital.

“We were incredibly impressed by all the presenting companies and are excited about the opportunities for continued investment in this space,” said, Benjamin Patz, managing partner, DeepWork Capital. “Investing in cutting-edge sectors that stem from the transformative power of emerging and aerospace technology is a strategic move and critical to driving success.”

The “Final Four” winning companies are listed below:

GRAND PRIZE WINNER ($40,000) | Kind Designs

Miami Beach headquartered, Kind Designs (www.kinddesigns.com), is addressing the rising sea-level challenge by 3D Printing structural seawalls that both protect coastal communities and function as artificial reefs, sequester CO2 and have built-in sensors to track essential water quality data. The Living Seawalls are exponentially cheaper and faster to produce and permit than any conventional seawall products on the market.

It’s estimated that by the year 2100, Miami will be completely submerged by water. Kind Designs founder, Anya Freeman, a Ukraine native, lived in Israel before coming to Miami to study law. The love of technology drew her to 3D printing. Originally interested in building 3D-printed homes, Any changed her focus towards seawalls once she learned about the ability to mitigate the effect of climate change and rising sea levels.

In addition to the cash prizes awarded, DeepWork Capital, an early-stage venture capital firm based in Orlando, is announced they will invest $100,000 in Kind Designs.

1ST RUNNER UP ($30,000) | Zulu Pods, Ft. Lauderdale, FL., www.zulupods.com, is an aerospace and defense company who design and manufacture decentralized fluid delivery systems. The company is focused on unitizing part counts on components such as jet engines and/or geartrains, thereby reducing cost, reducing weight and increasing performance. With their patented pod technology, they can drastically reduce part counts for expendable jet engines (think of engines that power drones or missiles) or back-up emergency lubrication systems (think of helicopters or single engine fighter jet engines).

2ND RUNNER UP ($20,000) | Ainthoven, Cocoa Beach, FL., www.whoweplayfor.org, the company is bringing life-saving electrocardiogram (“ECG”) heart screenings to pediatrics and young adults in the United States and beyond.

3RD RUNNER UP ($10,000)Gigantor Technologies, Inc., Melbourne Beach, FL., www.gigantor.com/, provides an AI accelerator that can speed up neural network models to speeds nVidia, Tesla, that the company says – others cannot touch. If the process latency is reduced to a fraction of other solutions it can enable Deep and Convolutional neural networks (computer vision, radar, lidar) to work with any frame size, HD, 4K and above with no data loss, it also reduces power by over 90%.

Event co-host, Space Florida, was created to strengthen Florida’s position as the global leader in aerospace research, investment, exploration and commerce. As Florida’s aerospace development organization, we are committed to attracting and expanding the next generation of space industry businesses. With its highly trained workforce, proven infrastructure and unparalleled record of achievement, Florida is the ideal location for aerospace businesses to thrive – and Space Florida is the perfect partner to help them succeed.

“This year’s applicants exhibited exceptional innovation and leadership, and we believe they are poised to make an impact on the aerospace industry in today’s business climate,” said Space Florida President and CEO Frank DiBello. “To date, capital accelerator programs supported by Space Florida have attracted more than $600 million in funding and investments for companies. We are proud be the financial propellant that helps new ideas take off.”

“Congratulations to Kind Designs, Zulu Pods, Ainthoven, and Gigantor Technologies from this year’s forum,” said Kevin Burgoyne, president and CEO of the Florida Venture Forum. “Through our work and collaborations, we continue to be on the forefront of driving innovation and progress with early-stage companies across various industries.”

To see the images of all winning companies, click here.

By Nikki Cabus

Florida remains #1 for higher education in U.S. News and World Report rankings for the seventh year

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U.S. News & World Report has once again named Florida the top state in the country for higher education.

Florida’s higher education system has held the top ranking since the inception of the rankings in 2017. This achievement can be credited to the collective commitment of our elected leaders, the Board of Governors, and the state universities to student success and affordability.

“Florida’s success would not be possible without the exceptional leadership at our 12 public universities, Governor DeSantis’s commitment to excellence in higher education, and the unwavering support of our legislative leaders. I am truly grateful for their investment and continued support,” said Brian Lamb, chair of the Board of Governors, which oversees the State University System.

“Florida has long been a national leader in higher education, and retaining this #1 ranking proves the Florida way is working. By prioritizing student success, with an emphasis on providing all students a high-quality, low-cost education, Florida’s universities are leaning in to produce top-tier talent to meet workforce needs, increase research capabilities, and retain the best and brightest faculty whose excellence and expertise provide the platform from which we create the future.”

Metrics considered by U.S. News & World Report include the time it takes students to complete two- and four-year college programs, the cost of in-state tuition and fees, and the debt burden that college graduates carry. Florida improved on two of the five metrics in the recent rankings, including four-year graduation rate and educational attainment. We remained #1 for the lowest tuition and fees.

The State University System recently announced a 12 percent five-year increase in graduation rates and a 49 percent year-over-year drop in the cost-to-the-student for a bachelor’s degree. Due to support from elected leaders and initiatives that drive down costs, the average State University System student pays less than $3,400 for a bachelor’s degree once financial aid is included. Additionally, 75% of resident undergrads had no loans during the 2020-21 academic year, up from 69% the previous year.

“This recognition affirms the incredible collaboration among our universities, our System, and Governor DeSantis and our State Legislature to prioritize Florida’s students,” said Ray Rodrigues, chancellor of the State University System of Florida. “Accountability is key, and the state’s investments in performance-based funding have given our System the tools necessary for our students to achieve a higher quality of education, graduate faster, with little to no debt.”

Accountability is critical to the System’s continuing rise in productivity and reputation, and the state’s investments in performance-based funding have provided the tools necessary for this ranking. In the fall of 2020, the Board of Governors added a dashboard on the homepage that provides a transparent way for all interested parties to monitor our System’s performance on these prioritized metrics.

The State University System of Florida is a constitutional body led by the 17-member Board of Governors.  The System has 12 universities and more than 430,000 students, making it the second-largest public university system in the nation.  Responsibilities include defining the distinctive mission of each institution and managing the System’s coordination and operation.  The Board appoints a Chancellor who serves as the System’s chief executive.  For more, visit flbog.edu

By Nikki Cabus

Carrier Announces portfolio transformation including acquisition of Viessmann Climate Solutions

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Carrier Global Corporation (NYSE: CARR) announced strategic actions that will transform the Company’s business portfolio and establish Carrier as a pure-play, global leader in intelligent climate and energy solutions.

Carrier will acquire Viessmann Climate Solutions, the largest segment of Viessmann Group, in a cash and stock transaction valued at €12 billion, subject to working capital and other adjustments. The value represents approximately 13X synergized projected 2023 EBITDA. A privately held company with a 106-year legacy of innovation, Viessmann Climate Solutions provides Carrier with an iconic, premium brand in the highest growth segment of the global heat pump and energy transition markets. In addition, Carrier announced plans to exit its Fire & Security and Commercial Refrigeration cabinet businesses.

“The acquisition of Viessmann Climate Solutions is a game-changing opportunity,” said Carrier Chairman & CEO David Gitlin.

“Climate change, sustainability requirements and geopolitical factors are driving an unprecedented energy transition in Europe. Accelerated by government regulations and incentives, the transition creates a significant, long-term growth opportunity. Viessmann Climate Solutions is uniquely positioned to capitalize on this opportunity with its premier brand, highly differentiated distribution channel and innovative product offerings.”

Gitlin continued, “With 70% of its business consisting of heat pumps and related accessories, solar PV, batteries and services, Viessmann Climate Solutions is a critical leader in Europe’s energy transition. We look forward to welcoming its 11,000 team members to the Carrier family and Max Viessmann, CEO of Viessmann to the Carrier Board of Directors at closing, which is expected around the end of 2023.”

“The Viessmann Climate Solutions acquisition and planned exit of Fire & Security and Commercial Refrigeration will further simplify our business portfolio and accelerate our strategy to establish Carrier as the global leader in intelligent climate and energy solutions,” continued Gitlin. “Recent strategic actions, including the Toshiba Carrier Corporation acquisition and the sale of Chubb, have aligned our company with the most significant megatrends impacting the heating and cooling industry, including managing climate change and delivering on net zero emissions targets. While Fire & Security and Commercial Refrigeration are great businesses with incredible, customer-focused teams, the planned exits sharpen the strategic focus Carrier has gained through its 2020 spin-off from United Technologies. With Viessmann Climate Solutions, we are positioning ourselves to be the global climate solutions champion, poised to deliver higher growth and superior shareowner value.”

Max Viessmann, CEO of Viessmann, said, “Our purpose is to create living spaces for generations to come. Carrier’s global reach, broad product portfolio, financial strength and shared commitment to sustainability will enable our Climate Solutions business to fully capitalize on our innovative, integrated solution offering and maximize our impact on Europe’s independent energy transition.”

“Following the closing of the transaction, the Viessmann Group will remain committed as a significant, long-term shareowner of Carrier, reflecting our family’s high confidence in the superior value to be created by this combination. Joining Carrier’s Board of Directors will enable me to work directly with Dave, my fellow directors and the Carrier team to realize the substantial potential of the combination of two iconic and market-leading companies.”

 

Strategic Benefits

  • Positions Carrier to lead in the rapid climate and energy transition in Europe, which is driving sustainable market growth. Geopolitical dynamics and the push for energy independence are driving European governments to promote and prioritize renewable and electric solutions for heating and cooling, which comprise approximately half of Europe’s residential energy requirements. European governments are actively promoting heat pumps and renewable solutions to address these challenges and have implemented a number of related regulations and incentive programs that are expected to result in a significant growth opportunity for key climate solutions. The $5 billion European heat pump segment, in which Viessmann Climate Solutions specializes, is expected to triple in size to $15 billion by 2027.
  • Adds the premier asset in the European climate transition market to Carrier’s portfolio with a proven track record and confidence of high, sustained growth. As the premier European climate solutions manufacturer, Viessmann’s iconic global brand commands premium pricing. Viessmann Climate Solutions also benefits from unique customer access with a direct-to-installer model that includes more than 75,000 installers in 25 countries. These differentiators, combined with its innovative product offerings, have resulted in a superior growth track record and profile. Sales and EBITDA* have grown over 15% on a compounded annual growth rate basis since 2020, with double-digit growth expected to continue through 2030. 2023 forecasted EBITDA* is approximately €0.7 billion on approximately €4 billion of sales.
  • Provides new capabilities that expand Carrier’s comprehensive renewable offerings and strengthen Carrier’s differentiated, digitally enabled lifecycle solutions. In addition to proprietary heat pump technology, Viessmann Climate Solutions offers renewable energy capabilities and home battery storage, as well as smart home system controls and applications that can all be integrated to drive energy efficiency, reliability and convenience. Viessmann Climate Solutions also has extensive digital offerings that expand Carrier’s subscription and aftermarket offerings. The combination creates the industry’s most comprehensive and differentiated suite of sustainable technologies and services, which Carrier plans to scale globally.
  • Transforms Carrier into a simpler, pure-play global leader in intelligent climate and energy solutions. The Viessmann Climate Solutions acquisition accelerates Carrier’s transformation into a global leader of intelligent climate and energy transition solutions. Viessmann Climate Solutions’ leadership position in Europe coupled with Toshiba and Giwee’s leadership positions in Asia and Carrier’s in the Americas provides the company with established leadership positions in all attractive segments in all major geographies. The planned exits from the Fire & Security and Commercial Refrigeration businesses will reduce operational complexity and sharpen focus. The outcome will be a Carrier with market-leading positions globally with a higher growth profile.

Viessmann Climate Solutions Transaction Details and Financial Benefits

Under the terms of the agreement, subject to working capital and other adjustments, Carrier will acquire Viessmann Climate Solutions for €12 billion, of which 80% will be in cash and 20% in Carrier common stock delivered to Viessmann Family Holdings.

Reflecting their confidence in Carrier’s growth and value creation, the Viessmann family has agreed to certain long-term lock-up provisions with respect to its equity ownership of Carrier common stock. Max Viessmann will join Carrier’s Board of Directors.

Carrier expects to fund the cash portion of the consideration through a combination of cash on hand and newly committed financing.

Carrier expects to maintain its investment grade credit rating at the close of the Viessmann Climate Solutions acquisition and return to its pre-transaction leverage profile within approximately two years. It also expects to resume share repurchases upon reaching its current leverage. The Company remains committed to a growing and sustainable dividend.

Financial benefits of the acquisition include:

  • Enhanced top-line and EBITDA* growth. The acquisition significantly enhances Carrier’s growth profile given Viessmann Climate Solutions’ expected continued double-digit sales growth. As a result, Carrier expects this acquisition to add more than 100 basis points to the Company’s revenue growth profile.
  • Acquisition accretive to adjusted EPS* by year two. The acquisition is expected to be modestly dilutive in 2024 to adjusted EPS*, accretive in 2025 and increasingly accretive thereafter. Free cash flow* yield is expected to be high-single-digits in year five.
  • Increases aftermarket and recurring revenue growth profile. Viessmann Climate Solutions has a large installed base serviced by more than 1,300 service and support personnel, which is projected to drive double-digit aftermarket growth. In addition to over 90,000 maintenance contracts, including subscription models, Viessmann Climate Solutions’ ViCare digital platform has over 500,000 connected devices that allow customers to use its products and services easily and effectively.
  • Meaningful synergies. Carrier anticipates approximately €200 million of run-rate cost synergies primarily from procurement and insourcing. The vast majority of the cost synergies will be realized by year three. Revenue synergies from cross-selling opportunities are expected to provide further upside.
  • Reduced complexity. Following the acquisition and business exits, Carrier will benefit from a simplified structure with a smaller footprint, fewer ERP systems, fewer legal entities, and fewer, yet more scalable, global businesses.

Listen to social media announcement here

By Nikki Cabus

CareerSource Palm Beach County is offering up to $12K in career training for veterans and spouses

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Announced last week and just in time for Memorial Day, CareerSource Palm Beach County is now offering up to $12,000 for occupational training to eligible veterans and military spouses seeking employment through their Careers for Veterans Grant program.

The program pays for licenses, degrees and certification to help veterans and their spouses gain credentials for many in-demand careers. More than 400 credentials are available. The program also provides supportive services to cover the cost of books, licensing fees, and even childcare.

CareerSource Palm Beach County is the non-profit organization chartered by the state to lead workforce development in Palm Beach County. During the past five program years, CareerSource assisted nearly 45,000 residents find employment ranging from entry level to executive suite, with salaries from these jobs creating $700 million in annual wages.  CareerSource also awarded $14.7 million in grants to area businesses and employees for job training and educational assistance during that time.

“Memorial Day honors those generations of men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in defending our country,” said Julia Dattolo, President and CEO of CareerSource Palm Beach County and a U.S. Navy veteran. “We are honored to provide Careers for Veterans Grants to assist eligible veterans and their spouses who are seeking training that leads to gainful employment.”

“Many area employers actively seek to hire veterans because of the knowledge, skills, and attributes they have acquired in a variety of specialized fields during their service. We offer career services that assist returning veterans find new employment and transition into civilian careers,” Ms. Dattolo added.

Florida has the third largest population of veterans in the nation with more than 1.5 million veterans. Of those, nearly 77,000 are located in Palm Beach County.

Veterans who are residents of Palm Beach County are encouraged to contact CareerSource about the special employment assistance available to them at the career centers or at www.careersourcepbc.com.

These services include:

  • Classes and facilities for job search
  • Career development/consulting/placement services
  • Talent identifiers and assessments
  • Referrals to educational and vocational training programs
  • Access to computers, fax machines, phones and copiers for job searches
  • Veterans on staff who know how to effectively connect military experience and skills with prospective civilian employers

In a recent WPBF 25 interview, Cody Melton, the Director of Operations for CareerSource Palm Beach County and United States Air Force Veteran, stated that “They’re going to receive funding to help pay for training, training in, say, HVAC or IT or nursing. There’s a variety of fields that are in demand.”

In addition to the $12,000 in occupational training for eligible vets and spouses seeking employment, participants can receive up to $3000 to assist them with support services such as covering childcare or paying for travel expenses such as gas.

Once an application is submitted, a CareerSource Palm each County Veterans Services staff member will receive the results to determine eligibility and suitability, and contact applicants with the determination and information.

Applying for the program is easy. APPLY HERE.

 

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