South Florida Tech HubSouth Florida Tech Hub

By Nikki Cabus

Social Mobile recognized at ETMA’s Innovation of the Year Award winner

Read Time 3 Minutes

The Enterprise Technology Management Association (ETMA) members voted at their recent meetup in Puerto Rico selecting Social Mobile as its Innovation of the Year Award winner.

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. Our team of certified Android Enterprise experts work to deliver a fully custom mobility solution that includes hardware, software, managed mobility services, connectivity, and more.

Social Mobile was recognized for its Rhino Mobility Platforms, which enterprises can use to custom-build any device in all form factors, including smartphones, tablets, wearables, and IoT devices. The platform is fully certified for global markets, guaranteed for 3+ years of product availability, and secured and managed by Android Enterprise. Social Mobile is an enterprise mobility solutions provider who designs, engineers, manufactures, and manages custom mobility solutions for clients in all industries, from healthcare to retail to defense.

“We are incredibly proud to receive the Innovation of the Year award for our groundbreaking platform. This recognition underscores our commitment to delivering cutting-edge solutions that empower enterprise clients to thrive in today’s dynamic digital landscape,” said Robert Morcos, Founder and CEO of Social Mobile.

“Our new Rhino Mobility Platforms allows businesses to deploy custom devices faster, saving time and resources while unlocking new revenue streams.”

The selection criteria included four factors: the degree of innovation, market response from clients, delivery of the offering, and how the value proposition is being fulfilled and validated in the marketplace.

ETMA‘s ongoing mission is to raise awareness, to improve the quality and value of solutions and to cultivate shared industry knowledge for Enterprise Technology Management, Managed Mobility Services, MMS, Mobile Device Management MDM and Enterprise Mobility Management, EMM solutions, Managed Services, Expense Management, Telecommunications Management, Telecom Expense Management, TEM, and Mobile Expense Management.

ETMA members subscribe to a Code of Ethics, which clearly establishes standards and differentiates their level of commitment to their clients. Value of membership comes from two central ideas: transformational partnerships and bringing CEOs and Presidents together. Transformational partnerships are achieved through new operational efficiencies for back-office processes and sales through partnerships.

Joe Basili, Managing Director for ETMA, said, “This award shines a spotlight on Social Mobile’s achievements. Competitors are the toughest critics; they are also best positioned to determine which organizations truly exemplify the award criteria.”

The Innovation of the Year award supports ETMA’s mission of promoting the value of technology and technology management, enhancing the category image to promote service quality and innovation. ETMA seeks to raise industry standards, recognize its members’ achievements, and promote the value of solutions through the Innovation of the Year Award.

To learn more about Social Mobile, visit www.socialmobile.com

By Jason Steinfeld

TEDxBocaRaton does it again, this year’s theme ‘Divergence’

Read Time 5 Minutes

On May 11th, 2024, TEDxBocaRaton held their eighth independently organized event with over 500 in attendance. 

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TED Talks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event.

This year’s TEDXBocaRaton theme ‘Divergence’ was a thought-provoking exploration of the widening differences or disparities among various groups, individuals, and ideologies, inviting us to delve into the complexities of our world. The organizers, Erik Mintz and Cindy Metzler, aimed to ignite discussions that challenge conventional thinking and inspire new perspectives on a wide range of topics.

With over 500 people in attendance, the newly renovated presentation hall at the Boca Raton Innovation Campus (BRiC) was the perfect venue. With it’s history as IBM’s Research and Development outpost, birthplace of the first personal computer, and now a state-of-the-art, accessible 1.7 million square foot office park, it’s a magnet for forward thinkers in technology and life sciences.’ BRIC is known for its convergence of innovation, technology and art at the campus being home to companies such as ModMed and Lynn University’s NFT student gallery.

The doors opened at early at 2:30 pm offering the unique opportunity explore the businesses who sponsored the event. This unique access allows you to engage with these brands and the folks who lead them in a more intimate way. One of those brands, Live Wellness, led by Dr. Adam Dombrowski and Dr. Kriste Imre, were educating attendees about their medically certified holistic wellness programs. Also onsite was Dr. Haasseemm Mohammed, D.C., showcasing innovations in chiropractic, as well as The Silver Logic who displayed their cloud-based technicolor lighting control solutions.

“It’s cool to be here, TEDx – it changes lives, so we are transforming people’s lives through health. It is great to be here and exciting to be with amazing people,” Imre and Dombrowski explained.

The event was supported by multiple volunteers and community supporters working closely with event’s organizers, Erik Mintz and Cindy Metzler, who have been the original TEDxBocaRaton hosts since 2018.  In addition to BRIC, this year’s sponsors and partners were Dell Anno Boca Raton, VConnex Services, Inc, LivingFL.com, GrayRobinson, Owwll, Holiday Inn Boca Raton North, Media Components, and, of course, South Florida Tech Hub.

“South Florida Tech Hub has been an incredible supporter over the past eight years. Their support has been instrumental in our growth and success, and we are deeply grateful for their partnership and belief in our mission,” Cindy Metzler explained.

TEDxBocaRaton has a tradition of delivering a captivating lineup of speakers who are making waves in their respective fields.  This year was no different. The TEDxBocaRaton stage hosted an eclectic array of thought leaders, innovators, and visionaries who embody the theme of “Divergence” who explored the myriad ways in which our world is evolving, intersecting, and diverging.

This year’s speaker lineup included: 

  1. Sixcia Devine – Social entrepreneur and author Sixcia Devine empowers communities through her non-profit organization, Caritas Smile. Her innovative approach combines philanthropy with eco-tourism to create lasting change worldwide.
  2. Carole Blueweiss – Redefining aging, Carole Blueweiss brings over 25 years of physical therapy and geriatric care expertise. Her holistic approach emphasizes the mind-body connection and challenges traditional notions of aging.
  3. Pete Vargas – Teaches people how to grow their businesses and spread their message through stages. In 2003, one man on a stage deeply impacted his life, and since then, he has dedicated his life to the power of stages.
  4. Kanwal Bawa, DO – A distinguished Cleveland Clinic-trained medical doctor and a leading expert in sexual medicine. She is known to millions around the world as “Dr. Sex FairyTM.” With her extensive knowledge and experience in medicine, particularly sexual health, Dr. Bawa has become a prominent figure in advocating for sexual wellness and empowerment.
  5. Ved Chirayath – Professor, physicist, inventor, and National Geographic explorer, Ved Chirayath pioneers next-generation sensing technologies to study and protect life on Earth and beyond. His interdisciplinary work pushes the boundaries of scientific exploration.
  6. Angela Hunte – Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Angela Hunte performs her nostalgic song Empire State of Mind. Angela is passionate about music, having spent her childhood in Trinidad and adulthood in Brooklyn, NY. Her musical journey and upcoming projects promise to captivate audiences worldwide.
  7. MeiMei Fox – 2X NY Times Bestselling author MeiMei Fox empowers individuals to share their stories with the world. Her Forbes column focuses on purpose-driven entrepreneurship, and her company, Your Bestselling Book, takes a scientific and soulful approach to helping others find their voice and make an impact.
  8. Sean Davis – Philanthropic private equity investor Sean Davis pioneers models for combining wealth creation with social impact. His work at Merton Capital Partners is redefining how philanthropy intersects with private equity to transform the world through giving pledges.
  9. Melissa Daimler – A culture thought leader, Melissa Daimler, focuses on aligning organizational values with behaviors to drive long-term success. Her innovative strategies have significantly impacted employee engagement and performance at many organizations, including WeWork and Udemy.
  10. Pedro Meneses – Aerospace engineer turned entrepreneur Pedro Meneses pioneers drone-based logistics solutions with his company Aerialoop. His innovative approach to technology and business is shaping the future of transportation.

At the end of the evening, South Florida Tech Hub journalist, Jason Steinfeld, had the opportunity to connect with some of the night’s speakers, attendees and organizers. The event’s opening speaker, Sixcia Devine, stayed the entire evening stating that she is “absolutely in love” with the event and would love to hear all the TEDx speakers and their ideas on the TED stage.

“It was an honor to be able to share at this event. There are so many ideas and thoughts on this stage that need to be presented to the world,” Sixcia stated.

To view the official photo album, click here

 

By Nikki Cabus

TEDx is Coming to the Treasure Coast: “Emerge” set to illuminate minds with Ideas, Inspiration, and Innovation

Read Time 3 Minutes

TEDx is coming to the Treasure Coast. . . and we are here for it! TEDXPortSaintLucie announced its highly anticipated event, themed “Emerge.” 

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TED Talks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.

TEDxPortSaintLucie will be held Thursday, July 25th, 2024, from 12:00 PM to 6:00 PM at the River Walk Center located at 600 Indian River Dr, Fort Pierce, FL 34950.

The event is bringing together a diverse lineup of speakers who are poised to share their groundbreaking ideas and stories, inspiring attendees to emerge into new realms of thought and action. This private event, made possible by the generous support of leading organizations, will offer a platform for innovative thinkers to ignite deep discussions and forge meaningful connections, in alignment with the TEDx mission.

The TEDxPortSaintLucie event is proudly sponsored by Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Company, Helping Hands Community of the Treasure Coast Inc, and Minnerly Media. These sponsors exemplify a commitment to fostering community engagement and supporting initiatives that drive positive change.

The event is being held in Fort Pierce, a city in Saint Lucie County. According to a report released by the U.S. Census Bureau, Port St. Lucie ranked as the fifth fastest-growing city in the United States for cities with populations over 20,000. The data also shows that between July 2022 to July 2023, the city gained 15,607 people, reaching a population of 911,311.

In a WPBF News Channel 25 interview, Melissa Yunis, spokesperson for the city of Port St. Lucie, said, “It’s affordable to live here, the weather is beautiful, and also we are one of the safest cities in nearly a decade.”

In a statement, the U.S. Census Bureau wrote in part, “The population growth in Florida’s metro areas underscores a larger trend of widespread population growth across the South, the nation’s fastest-growing region.”

The event will feature thought-provoking talks from industry leaders including:

Each year, thousands of independently run TEDx events bring people together to share ideas and bridge divides in communities on every continent. Through the Audacious Project, TED has helped catalyze more than $3 billion in funding for projects that seek to make the world more beautiful, sustainable and just. In 2020, TED launched Countdown, an initiative to accelerate solutions to the climate crisis and mobilize a movement for a net-zero future, and in 2023 TED launched TED Democracy to spark a new kind of conversation focused on realistic pathways towards a more vibrant and equitable future.

“We are thrilled to welcome South Florida Tech Hub to the Treasure Coast,” stated Key McKay, TEDxPortSaintLucie Event Curator. “Their involvement in TEDxPort Saint Lucie will undoubtedly enhance the event, bringing together innovative minds from our community and beyond. We look forward to a successful partnership and an inspiring event.”

This event is priced at $97 and will be invite-only registration. Remaining tickets will be released to the public for purchase on June 16th.

To learn more about TEDxPortSaintLucie “Emerge” event visit or purchase tickets in June, visit www.tedxportsaintlucie.com.

By Nikki Cabus

TEDxBocaRaton 2024 is welcoming 11 speakers; theme Divergence

Read Time 4 Minutes

Haven’t signed up for TEDxBocaRaton yet?

TEDxBocaRaton 2024 has a stellar lineup of speakers for the much-anticipated event on Saturday, May 11, 2024. This year’s stage will host an eclectic array of thought leaders, innovators, and visionaries who embody the theme of “Divergence,” exploring the myriad ways in which our world is evolving, intersecting, and diverging. South Florida Tech Hub community members can get $20 off by using 𝐒𝐅𝐓𝐞𝐜𝐡𝟐𝟎.

The event will be held at the Boca Raton Innovation Campus, or “BRIC.” Originally home to IBM and the invention of the personal computer, BRiC is now an office park changing today’s workplace. BRIC was acquired by CP Group in 2018 and is a state-of-the-art, accessible 1.7 million square foot office park located in the heart of Boca Raton.

BRiC was initially developed by IBM as its North American Research and Development facility. Since world-renowned architect Marcel Breuer designed the IBM facility in the late 1960s, this unique office campus has been synonymous with the spirit of revolutionary design and creativity. Now, BRIC serves as the stomping grounds for a new generation of technology, life sciences, and service companies that are aiming for leadership and disruption in their respective fields.

“The Boca Raton Innovation Campus (BRiC) serves as the perfect backdrop for our event, symbolizing the convergence of innovation, technology, and creativity,” said Erik Mintz and Cindy Metzler, TEDxBocaRaton organizers.

“With our theme of Divergence, we aim to ignite discussions that challenge conventional thinking and inspire new perspectives on a wide range of topics.”

TEDxBocaRaton invites attendees to join this transformative journey of exploration and discovery. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to engage with ideas that challenge, inspire, and reshape our understanding of the world. TEDxBocaRaton continues its tradition of delivering a captivating lineup of speakers who are making waves in their respective fields.

This year’s speakers include:

 

1. Kanwal Bawa, MDDistinguished medical doctor and sexual wellness expert, Dr. Kanwal Bawa, is known globally as the “Dr. Sex Fairy™.” Through her advocacy, research, and innovative products, she is reshaping conversations around sexual health and empowerment.

 

2. Carole BlueweissRedefining aging, Carole Blueweiss brings over 25 years of expertise in physical therapy and geriatric care. Her holistic approach emphasizes the mind-body connection and challenges traditional notions of aging.

3. Ved ChirayathAerospace engineering professor, physicist, inventor and National Geographic explorer, Ved Chirayath, pioneers next-generation sensing technologies to study and protect life on earth and beyond. His interdisciplinary work pushes the boundaries of scientific exploration.

4. Melissa Daimler – A culture thought leader, Melissa Daimler, focuses on aligning organizational values with behaviors to drive long-term success. Her innovative strategies have made a significant impact on employee engagement and performance at many organizations including WeWork and Udemy.

5. Sean DavisPhilanthropic private equity investor, Sean Davis, pioneers’ new models for combining wealth creation with social impact. His work at Merton Capital Partners is redefining how philanthropy intersects with private equity to transform the world through giving pledges.

6. Sixcia Devine – Social entrepreneur and author, Sixcia Devine, empowers communities through her non-profit organization Caritas Smile. Her innovative approach combines philanthropy with eco-tourism to create lasting change throughout the world.

7. Robert DePalmaDinosaur hunter and researcher, Robert DePalma, unlocks the secrets of the past through cutting-edge fossil analysis. His work sheds light on Earth’s history and provides valuable insights into our planet’s future.

8. MeiMei FoxNY Times Bestselling author, MeiMei Fox, empowers individuals to share their stories with the world. Her Forbes column focuses on purpose-driven entrepreneurship and her company Your Bestselling Book, takes a scientific and soulful approach to helping others find their voice and make an impact.

9. Angela HunteGrammy-winning singer-songwriter, Angela Hunte, performs her nostalgic song Empire State of Mind. Angela is passionate about music, having spent her childhood in Trinidad and adulthood in Brooklyn, NY. Her musical journey and upcoming projects promise to captivate audiences worldwide.

10. Pedro MenesesAerospace engineer turned entrepreneur, Pedro Meneses, pioneers’ drone-based logistics solutions with his company Aerialoop. His innovative approach to technology and business is shaping the future of transportation.

11. Pete VargasSerial entrepreneur and father of five, Pete Vargas, teaches others how to stay on track even when life throws you a curve ball or two! He shares with others the power to help grow their brand and businesses through storytelling and stages. His system has transformed the lives of thousands of entrepreneurs worldwide.

By Nikki Cabus

DSS Director of Strategic Innovation Meggie Soliman Wins IGNITE 2024 Award

Read Time 3 Minutes

Document Storage Systems, Inc. (DSS), a leading provider of health information technology (HIT) solutions for federal, private and public health care organizations, announced that Meggie Soliman, director of strategic innovation at DSS, has been selected as a winner of GOVTECH CONNECTS’ IGNITE 2024 Award.

Document Storage Systems, Inc. (DSS) is a catalyst for health care innovation and digital transformation, helping the Department of Veterans Affairs as a solutions provider, systems integrator, and services contractor. DSS is committed to assisting VA in its High Reliability Organization journey and delivering care quality for Veterans by meeting top initiatives, changing regulatory requirements, and implementing enhanced business transformation across VA enterprise.

The IGNITE 2024 Award, presented by GOVTECH CONNECTS, recognizes individuals who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, innovation, and impact in their field. Forward-thinking leaders and today’s trailblazers converge to celebrate the future of digital transformation during this dynamic event that invites women and gender-diverse professionals in all career seasons to delve into cutting-edge solutions, learn from visionary leaders, and embrace the innovations shaping digital transformation.

This immersive experience brought together exceptional women in government and industry highlighting the ideas and actions of inspirational leaders who shared their stories of their leadership journey to the top, and the change-making technological advances and digital transformation they are cultivating in government and driving to market in industry.

As the recipient of the esteemed IGNITE award, Meggie Soliman exemplified unparalleled dedication and visionary leadership, setting a standard of excellence for their peers. Specifically, Meggie was recognized for taking a disruptive and forward-thinking approach to innovation development for the federal health care arena.

GOVTECH CONNECTS is the modern liaison between government and industry, forging mission-driven connections between leaders, decision-makers, and influencers across the dynamic tech landscape. Through immersive events, insightful roundtables, and captivating government podcasts, GOVTECH CONNECTS offers a platform to discuss the transformative potential of technology within government. With boundless energy and a passion for innovation, GOVTECH CONNECTS aims to collaboratively identify pathways to achieving common goals, spotlighting emerging technologies and leading the charge in digital transformation and IT modernization.

The awards celebration was held April 18th in North Bestheda, Maryland during the annual Ignite 2024 conference. This year’s theme was “Powerful Women Igniting Digital Transformation.” Attendees and special guests included inspirational leaders such as keynote speaker, Suzi Connor, Chief Information Officer of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services and Jessica Berrellez, Executive Officer of the Office of Digital Transformation for the Food and Drug Administration. The guest list was pretty impressive.

“I am truly honored to be named an IGNITE 2024 Award recipient,” said Meggie Soliman. “The health IT arena is continually evolving in dynamic ways, and DSS continues to be at the forefront as a catalyst for transforming federal health care delivery.”

In addition to being deeply committed to elevating the federal IT arena, Meggie is an educator focused on enlightening current and future leaders about the ongoing digital transformation that impacts every facet of our lives. Meggie is a renowned TEDx speaker on the topic of “Thinking Outside the Block: Unconventional Paths to Innovation” about the power of unconventional thinking for fostering creative approaches for innovation development, especially for women in IT.

“I am so humbled and grateful for the opportunity to sit among amazing women as an IGNITE 2024 Awardee,” Meggie wrote in a social media post. “It was so energizing to see women supporting other women in the tech space. These women are trailblazers truly leading the way for our future and showing young girls what’s possible!!! Thankful for everyone who has led me to where I am today! Thank you, GOVTECH CONNECTS for creating this space!!”

Meggie is also the Chair of South Florida Tech Hub’s HealthTech & Life Sciences Peer Group. She is an ambassador for the organization and the overall mission and vision of building the tech sector, access to education, advocate for blockchain technology, and equal opportunities for women in tech.

For more insight into Meggie’s work with DSS, the local community and her background, check out Meggie’s Q&A writeup here.

By Nikki Cabus

PBSC Belle Glade campus awarded $4 million grant to improve broadband access for the local community

Read Time 4 Minutes

On Friday, Feb. 2, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced Palm Beach State College will receive nearly $4 million in federal funding to transform the Belle Glade campus into an innovative digital hub for students and the local community. 

Palm Beach State College is proud to host this broadband initiative in partnership with the local community of Belle Glade and surrounding municipalities to ensure that PBSC students and all residents benefit from the digital resources that are vital to their daily lives,” said PBSC President Ava L. Parker, J.D.

The award, from the Multipurpose Facility Program, is part of DeSantis’ $223 million commitment to improve broadband internet access to rural and economically disadvantaged communities across Florida. “By connecting Floridians with centrally located community hubs, residents have increased access to find their next professional opportunity, upskill for future jobs and access telemedicine resources,” Florida Commerce Secretary J. Alex Kelly said in a statement.

“This grant will enable the Belle Glade campus to improve digital inclusion and provide our local community with access to much needed services,” said Dr. LaTanya McNeal, executive dean of PBSC’s Belle Glade campus.

PBSC’s Belle Glade campus aims to close the digital divide within the surrounding rural communities it serves in Belle Glade, Pahokee, and South Bay. Poverty and unemployment rates in these areas are 22% and 13% higher respectively, than the rest of the state. The grant will be used to renovate existing space on PBSC’s Belle Glade campus to offer local residents access to services including workforce training, career advice and telehealth.

To do this, PBSC is partnering with CareerSource Palm Beach County to create a dedicated CareerSource center on the Belle Glade campus. The center will provide the community with access to free or low-cost training services, informational sessions, career advice and placement opportunities.

“Our mission at CareerSource is to connect business with talent and that is especially important in areas like the Glades which has traditionally been plagued with higher unemployment than the rest of the county,” said Charles Duval, CareerSource Palm Beach County’s associate vice-president of business services.

Additionally, PBSC intends to use the funding to help community residents upskill into higher wage jobs. Currently, the Glades region lacks a dedicated testing site for industry certifications, forcing residents hoping to gain credentials in skilled trades or licensed professions such as real estate and nursing to travel at least 50 miles to the nearest accredited site. PBSC will expand its existing Pearson Testing Center at the Belle Glade campus, offering certification exams in professions including teaching, emergency medical technicians, among others.

“PBSC is laser-focused on workforce programs and increasing these opportunities for our residents, particularly in Belle Glade,” said Dr. Peter Barbatis, PBSC vice-president of student services and enrollment management.  “By expanding our labs and creating new spaces, we will continue to assist the youth trying to enter the workforce and midlife learners who are changing careers.”

Another key component of the grant, for PBSC, is to use the funding to improve access to medical services within the community. Recognizing that access to medical services is more difficult in rural areas, PBSC will create two private spaces for telehealth services within the existing library. These spaces will offer locals convenient, free access to medical advice in a quiet space.

The importance of PBSC’s plans to provide new digital services to the community is underscored by the numerous endorsements and letters of support the college received in support of its grant application. Industry and government leaders including the Mayors of Belle Glade, Pahokee and South Bay as well educational institutions and local employers all supported the project.

Founded in 1933 as Florida’s first public community college, Palm Beach State College has been an integral player in the growth and prosperity of Palm Beach County. Our graduates impact every industry and are community and business leaders. With more than 130 programs of study, PBSC offers bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, professional certificates, career training and lifelong learning. Nearly 36,000 students enroll annually in onsite, online, live online and hybrid classes at five convenient locations in Belle Glade, Boca Raton, Lake Worth, Loxahatchee Groves and Palm Beach Gardens, and through PBSC Online.

Learn more at www.palmbeachstate.edu.

By Nikki Cabus

Research Park at Florida Atlantic Elects 2024 Officers; Vote Marks First Time an FAU President is Chair Since 1985

Read Time 4 Minutes

The Research Park at Florida Atlantic University® is pleased to announce the election of Stacy Volnick, Ph.D., FAU President, and Imran Siddiqui, JD as chair and vice chair of the Florida Atlantic Research and Development Authority (the Authority), respectively, for 2024.

The Research Park at Florida Atlantic is governed by the seven-member Authority, an independent special district which supports and promotes research and development in affiliation with and related to Florida Atlantic. It fosters technology-based economic development in both Palm Beach and Broward counties. The Research Park at FAU is widely regarded as South Florida’s laboratory for new entrepreneurial ideas and technologies.

Established in 1985, Research Park at Florida Atlantic University® is a 70-acre destination for R&D companies and home to technology and research-based organizations working to support the research and development activities of Florida Atlantic University and to foster economic development and broaden the economic base of Broward and Palm Beach counties. The Research Park at FAU hosts Global Ventures, an international soft-landing center for second-stage technology companies and Florida Atlantic Tech Runway, a hub to accelerate technology development and incubate startup companies.

The Research Park at FAU is governed by the Florida Atlantic Research and Development Authority, an independent special district created by Palm Beach and Broward counties in partnership with Florida Atlantic University, organized under Chapter 159, Part V, Florida Statues. (www.research-park.org)

In their leadership roles, Chair Volnick and Vice Chair Siddiqui will work closely with the members of the Authority and executive management to continue the Research Park’s mission of promoting research and economic development in South Florida, and to complete the execution of the Research Park’s 2023-2025 strategic plan.

“The work of the Research Park at Florida Atlantic has a significant impact on both the University and its surrounding communities,” said Volnick. “I am proud to lead its governing authority this year as we continue to advance its mission for the benefit of our entire region.”

President Volnick became a member of the university’s administrative staff in 1991, advancing steadily through the ranks. In 2013, she became vice president for administrative affairs and chief administrative officer, and more recently, she was promoted to chief operating officer. A three-time alumna, she earned a doctorate and master’s degree in educational leadership from FAU’s College of Education, as well as a bachelor’s degree in communication from the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters. Appropriately, her doctoral dissertation addressed the challenges facing women college presidents. Dr. Volnick joined the Authority in 2022.

Siddiqui, also a Florida Atlantic graduate, is a dynamic leader with a rich track record in law, civic engagement, higher education technology and public service. Most recently, he served as the Executive Director of Tech Equity Miami, leading a $100 million funding consortium dedicated to promoting equity in the tech industry. Before that role, he served as an Associate Vice President at Broward College where he launched Employment Solutions, a new division dedicated to corporate partnerships and job placement initiatives. Mr. Siddiqui was appointed to the Authority by Commissioner Marci Woodward and the Palm Beach County Commission in 2023.

“I am truly honored and humbled to accept the nomination for the position of Vice Chair at an exciting time not only for the Research Park but for Florida Atlantic University as a whole,” commented Imran Siddiqui. “Working under the leadership of our new chair, President Stacy Volnick is an exciting prospect, and I am eager to contribute to our shared vision for advancing research and development initiatives.”

Membership of the Authority is made up of private sector appointees by the Broward County Commission and the Palm Beach County Commission, each appointing three members. FAU’s president, or designee, rounds out the membership total of seven.

“We are thrilled to have President Volnick and Mr. Siddiqui step up and be elected to lead the Research Park at Florida Atlantic at this important time,” said Andrew Duffell, president of the Research Park. “Their leadership and expertise will be invaluable as we drive innovation and collaboration between the companies based in the Research Park and the research faculty and students at Florida Atlantic. I look forward to working with both of them to achieve our goals and support economic growth in our region.”

For more information about the Research Park at Florida Atlantic, visit www.Research-Park.org.

By Nikki Cabus

Meet the 7 new startups welcomed into the 3rd 35 Mules cohort at FPL

Read Time 3 Minutes

Seven new startups were just welcomed into the 3rd cohort of FPL’s 35 Mules innovation hub program.

35 Mules is the first in-house innovation hub backed by a global energy leader, Florida Power & Light, that provides startups of any age with cross-industry subject-matter expertise, advanced technology solutions, business services, world-class facilities and access to Fortune 500 corporate and technology leaders.

The 35 Mules program is an innovation hub designed to help startups grow and scale their businesses. The startups will work on their respective ventures at the NextEra Energy facilities in Juno Beach, gain access to subject-matter expertise and advanced technology solutions, and make valuable connections in the Florida business community.

The program is approximately 15 months long. agnostic to industry, and welcomes companies from around the world. What’s most special about the program is the non-dilutive cash grant of $100,000 to each startup company that makes it into the program.

Meet The Startups:

• AeonCharge – Enables EV drivers to access any charging station in North America through their preferred interface.

• Cambio – Software that helps commercial real estate companies and their corporate tenants decarbonize their buildings by ingesting simple building data normally manually collected by building engineers to measure the carbon footprint of each building and provide data-driven retrofit recommendations.

• Chemergy, Inc. – Builds solutions to solve our environmental and energy challenges by converting organic and plastic waste into green hydrogen.

• Cypienta – An AI solution that correlates seemingly disparate events and uncovers coordinated attacks that would otherwise go unnoticed and impact our infrastructure.

• Fire Neural Network – Uses cutting edge AI to save lives, protect property, and help fight against climate change. FNN quickly and accurately locates lightning-initiated wildfires and powerline damages.

• Noteworthy AI – Provides fleet vehicle-mounted smart cameras and AI that help utilities evaluate the condition of the electric distribution grid at-scale while reducing O&M costs.

• Ocellott – An electronics engineering company that creates innovative solutions to electrify the current and the next generation of aircraft, the eVTOL “electric takeoff and landing” in a safe manner.

“At NextEra Energy, Inc. we are passionate about fostering a culture of innovation and growth. Our innovation hub, 35 Mules, serves as a creative melting pot, where new ideas mix with the expertise of our dedicated employees,” Deborah Caplan, EVP, Human Resources and Corporate Services, wrote in a recent social media post.

“The energy and drive each cohort of startups brings is truly invigorating. Their unique perspectives, groundbreaking solutions and innovative methodologies provide an invaluable opportunity for both sides to learn and grow. We’re honored to be part of their journey, and I’m incredibly excited about the transformational impact we can achieve together! Welcome to 35 Mules!”

To learn more about 35 Mules, visit https://www.35mules.com

By Nikki Cabus

Tech Hub Announces 2023 Golden Palm Award Honorees

Read Time 5 Minutes

For the first time, the Golden Palm Gala & Awards, hosted by the South Florida Tech Hub, brought together a convergence of leaders, technologists, and organizations from across the region, all gathered to celebrate exceptional achievements and to acknowledge their collective impact on our vibrant tech ecosystem.T he event unfolded on August 3rd at the iconic Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in downtown West Palm Beach. It was an evening that marked a significant milestone in the South Florida technology landscape.

With the event’s presenting sponsor, 35 Mules, an Innovation Hub powered by Florida Power & Light, the evening held the promise of honoring the remarkable talent that South Florida nurtures within its technology community. Tech Hub received almost nominations in its first year which is a testament to the innovation and dedication that define this thriving tech hub. Each nomination was a story of determination, creativity, and a commitment to pushing the boundaries of possibility.

As the doors of the Kravis Center opened with a VIP reception with passed hors devours and open bar, a palpable sense of excitement filled the air. The attendees, representing a diverse spectrum of expertise and backgrounds, were met with an elegant ambiance that set the stage for an evening of recognition, connection, and inspiration. The atmosphere was charged with enthusiasm, as conversations flowed and new connections were forged.

Special guest Miss Florida 2023, Juliette Valle, made her way around the room interviewing attendees and honorees for the well-known #minimicminute segments usually held by Tech Hub’s own Nadia Volkova. The guests were also captured by Miss Valle’s opera serenade as she welcomed guests into the main dining hall.

The core essence of the evening was to acknowledge the transformative contributions of individuals, companies, and organizations that have played pivotal roles in shaping the South Florida tech landscape. CEOs who have steered companies to unprecedented heights, startup founders who have dared to dream differently, and community leaders who have tirelessly advocated for progress were all in the spotlight.

The emcee and our Mistress of Ceremonies was Founder and CEO of Entreprenista, Stephanie Cartin. She guided us through an evening that will remain etched in the memories of those who attended, not just as an evening of recognition, but as a testament to what can be achieved when visionaries, leaders, and technologists unite. As the lights dimmed and the attendees dispersed, the echoes of inspiration continued to reverberate, a reminder that the journey of the South Florida tech community is one of limitless possibilities.

 

Golden Palm Award Honorees:

  • Collaboration of The Year | Owwll, Premier Virtual, TEDxBocaRaton, and FAU Adams Center Entrepreneurship – For their achievements and efforts to provide free valuable mentors and experts to the those in the field, and those new to it, to veterans and students, and to the ever-expanding tech community.
  • Social Responsibility | Virtual Intelligence Briefing (ViB) – Woven throughout the fabric of the organization are the core values of humanitarian, economic and philanthropic servant leadership. “Service over Self” is not just a TedTalk for this outstanding organization, but a mantra relected in the staff, the Board of Directors, volunteers, and all who support them. This honoree is a shining example who inspires to provide technology and talent to those in need.
  • Innovator of The Year | BiFarm Tech – For their efforts to not only increase crop yields in state where Agriculture is a significant factor in our economy but they did so while reducing the environmental footprint AND adapted their technology for small indoor and home-based farms.
  • Community Connector Venture Mentoring Team (VMT) – For their tremendous efforts to develop and connect mentors and startup entrepreneurs to provide in-valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities of the startup world.
  • Inclusion ChampionUrban League Palm Beach County – This Honoree works to prepare young adults who are unemployed and underemployed for career-readiness to address socio-economic challenges and advocate for diversity in the tech sector to create a more equitable and inclusive environment for all.
  • EdTech Excellence | Code/Art – This Honoree Code Art has worked with 8,000 girls, trained 400 teachers, impacted 23 states, and can boast that 87% of their clients are motivated to continue coding in the future.
  • Leadership ExcellenceSaif Ishoof, Founder, Lab22C – A true visionary, leading by example, and encouraging those around him to take the work seriously but never to take themselves too seriously, he injects a sense of joy into every conversation. Known as “Miami’s Connector-in-Chief”, he has had a significant impact on entrepreneurs and founders across the region by making meaningful connections, providing sound advice, and being a trusted ear or shoulder.

A special award, the Ethos Award, was given at the close of the ceremony. This award was not a category open for nomination, but one that Tech Hub CEO Nikki Cabus felt was a hugely important one. The award was presented to the entire Florida Power & Light team there that night from senior execuitives to entry-level developers. They all make up the FPL fabric we all know.

“In todays world every company has the opportunity to be an innovator, to be a sustainability leader, to provide opportunity, and to put the larger community first. Few succeed at demonstrating each of these pillars, and even fewer at all four,” stated Cabus.

“Supporting 2000+ nonprofits, $3.8 Million donated by employees, 46,000+ hours by employees, 180+ nonprofit boards served by employees, awarding 5 makeover grants of $50,000 each to schools in our area, educating and protecting our natural resources, embracing future generations, delivering books to improve reading levels, developing curriculum for STEM, implementing Communications, and Leadership Development, working to lower costs to our nonprofit sector, and serving alongside our neighbors to make South Florida an even better place to live, work, and raise a family. I’m honored to present the Ethos Award to Florida Power & Light.”

The evening closed with robots, music and dancing with Digital Vibez. It was the perfect close to a perfect evening. Thank you to all our speakers, sponsors, media partners, production partners, The Kravis Center of Performing Arts, our event Chair, Cathy Miron, event organizing committee, Tech Hub Board of Directors, and a HUGE congratulations to all the nominees and honorees of the evening!

By Nikki Cabus

Meet the CIO Winners of the South Florida 2023 ORBIE Awards

Read Time 4 Minutes

On June 9th with over 350 in attendance, SouthFloridaCIO announced the winners of its 2023 ORBIE® Awards.

SouthFloridaCIO is the preeminent peer leadership network of South Florida chief information officers. SouthFloridaCIO is one of over 30 chapters of the Inspire Leadership Network, a national membership organization comprised exclusively of CIOs from public and private businesses, government, education, healthcare and nonprofit institutions.

For over 20 years, the CIO ORBIE Awards has been the premier technology executive recognition program. The Awards have recognized technology executives for leadership, innovation and excellence in this rapidly growing, CIO-led national professional association. For the third year, the South Florida CIO ORBIE® Awards has honored chief information officers who have demonstrated excellence in technology leadership.

CIOs are typically recognized in multiple categories, based on the size and scope of their organization and responsibilities. This year’s awards were held at The Diplomat Beach Resort in Broward County where technology executives were recognized in six key categories – Leadership, Global, Large Enterprise, Enterprise, Large Corporate, Corporate.

“Through member-driven, non-commercial initiatives like the ORBIE Awards, we forge powerful professional bonds with peers, collaboratively overcoming obstacles and sidestepping pitfalls,” emphasized Darryl Maraj, SouthFloridaCIO Chair. “Astute leaders recognize that the currency of connections is a formidable ‘superpower’—one nurtured within our trusted circle. Rest assured, when technology leaders unite, solutions emerge from the very room they inhabit.”

The 2023 South Florida ORBIE Award winners are:

  • Ashish Gupta, VP & CIO, NextEra Energy received the Leadership ORBIE.
  • Tim Langley-Hawthorne, EVP, CIO, Hertz received the Global ORBIE for organizations over $5 billion annual revenue & multi-national operations.
  • Margaret Brisbane, CIO, Miami Dade County received the Large Enterprise ORBIE for organizations over $5 billion annual revenue.
  • Patrick Hale, EVP, CIO, VITAS Healthcare received the Enterprise ORBIE for organizations up to $5 billion annual revenue.
  • William Velez, CIO, Harvard Maintenance Inc. received the Large Corporate ORBIE for organizations up to $1 billion annual revenue.
  • Mark Moch, CIO, American Oncology Network received the Corporate ORBIE for organizations up to $500 million annual revenue.

Lacey Elmange, Executive Director for SouthFloridaCIO and FloridaCIO, told South Florida Tech Hub, “It is extremely special and meaningful to watch the hard work of the CIO led Advisory Board come to fruition with the execution of the ORBIE Awards. Year round the Advisory Board officers are working hard to ensure great technology leadership is recognized in South Florida and one way to do that is through the ORBIE Awards. This not only gives recognition locally but also puts South Florida on the national stage where CIO peers across the network can see the exceptional leadership coming from our region.” She continued, “All ORBIE winners are able to compete in the National ORBIE Awards that take place during Converge the Inspire Leadership Network National Member Conference every summer.”

Since inception in 1998, over 700 technology leaders have received the prestigious ORBIE Award. The ORBIE honors chief information officers who have demonstrated excellence in leadership. Finalists and winners are selected by an independent peer review process, led by prior ORBIE recipients, based upon leadership and management effectiveness, business value created by technology innovation. and engagement in industry and community endeavors.

The South Florida ORBIE Awards keynote was delivered by Ashish Gupta, VP & CIO of NextEra Energy (NYSE: NEE), a leading clean energy company, In a fireside chat, Ashish was interviewed by Ann Dozier, SVP & CIO at Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits. In attendance we other leaders from the NextEra/FPL team in support of their leader.

In his role Ashish oversees all aspects of the company’s information technology, including technology strategy, driving digital transformation, cybersecurity, and communication services. He joined NextEra Energy in February 2017. Prior to joining NextEra Energy, Mr. Gupta worked at GE Energy Connections as the chief information officer. During his more than 20-year tenure at General Electric Company, Mr. Gupta held CIO positions at GE Capital and GE Energy. Mr. Gupta has been recognized for his leadership and ability to consistently create broad, innovative strategies to leverage technology for competitive advantage, drive business productivity and growth. He received Computerworld’s 2015 Premier 100 Technology Leaders award for the positive impact he had on his organization through technology. He was also recognized in 2009 with CIO Magazine’s CIO 100 honorees and in 2012 by CIO-Asia Magazine CIO 100 honorees.

In a recent South Florida Business Journal interview, ORBIE Leadership Award recipient Ashish Gupta shares advice for the next generation of IT leaders.

“CIOs are the change agents who can share the art of what’s possible with technology and communicate interdependencies across the company,” said Gupta. “They are advocates who promote digital concepts, innovation and experimentation.”

As he looks to the future, Gupta reflects on the evolving role of CIOs and recommends up-and-coming IT leaders apply their energy in three areas: focus on business impact and business value rather than technology outcomes, always be a change leader, and hire teams of professionals who are better than you and who bring different skills and alternate perspectives.

“Leadership is about creating other leaders, not about having all the answers,” Gupta said. “In the end, your legacy will be about the teams and careers you helped build.” He urged the CIOs in the room that morning to hire those who are better than you. 

To see all nominees and categories, visit https://sofloridacio.org/awards/2023

By Nikki Cabus

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

Read Time 5 Minutes

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

Brian Kornfeld steps down as CEO of Synapse; yet another Florida female leader is crowned

Read Time 4 Minutes

After 6 years, Brian Kornfeld, CEO & Co-Founder of Synapse, steps down as CEO. 

In a letter to the community via a social media post, Brian wrote “When we launched Synapse in 2017, we set out to transform Florida. We wanted to turn it into a destination for innovators and a place where they can live, work, build, and scale. As a native of the Tampa Bay area, I have always loved everything about the state and set a goal to make it a better place. It was a personal mission to get people to embrace and empower innovation across Florida. That mission could not be accomplished without the efforts of a talented team and the advocacy of an engaged community.”

He went on to write that the change will be effective as of April 30th, 2023 which coincides with the organizations 6th year anniversary. Synapse was incorporated in January 2017 in the Tampa Bay region which is one of the state’s hottest tech hubs.

Currently the Chief Strategy Officer, Lauren Slawsky Prager, will assume the role of Chief Executive Officer effective May 1st, 2023.

Lauren joined the organization in early 2018 starting as a volunteer and then as the VP of Communications and Programming where she lead efforts to bring the brand and mission to life through identifying and crafting the stories worth being told, organizing community events, and the annual Synapse Summit. After 4 years in this role, Lauren was promoted just last January to her current role as Chief Strategy Officer. Her vision and strategy have been instrumental to the growth of Synapse since its inception and the first Synapse Summit.

Lauren said that she started as a volunteer organizer aligning speakers and outlining content for the first Synapse Summit not thinking this would turn into a career opportunity, but when the opportunity arose she knew it was one she had to take. “The first Synapse Summit was magical,” she said. “We had three times the expected attendance and you could really feel the desire for human connection.” The role aligned with her passion of bringing people together.

“Lauren has been a driving force behind the scenes for years and has become a visionary leader of the community and the team,” noted Brian Kornfeld. He continued, “I am beyond thrilled that somebody so talented will take Synapse to the next level as her vision and strategy in community building is truly unique and top notch.”

Brian said, “Lauren has made an indelible impact on the Synapse community since she joined us in early 2018 and she is the unequivocal choice to bring Synapse to its next chapter. I leave Synapse in the most capable hands with Lauren and the incredible team around her and I look forward to supporting them as a continued member of the Board of Directors.”

Not ready to announce any new venture quite yet, Brian stated that he is looking forward to achieving “new professional aspirations” and the other Synapse alumni who have been able to reach new heights through the organization and the community. He expects to still be an active member in Florida’s innovation ecosystem and will remain an active member of the Board of Directors and the Impact Board. In his public letter, Brian closed by expressing that this has been the “best chapter of my career.”

In an interview with South Florida Tech Hub, Lauren shared that “Brian has given so much to the community. He has a deep passion and respect for the work of the people with some really great ideas and has always supported them with the execution of those great ideas. He is a champion of true collaboration working to create ties across the state.” She told Tech Hub CEO, Nikki Cabus, “His passion of creating connections brought us together.”

Lauren shared that she is beyond proud of working alongside Brian, and is honored to have the ability to not only have called him a colleague, but a friend and a partner. Lauren will continue the work of moving the needle for tech and innovation in Florida – now that the world is watching. She wants to show the world at “Innovation Lives Here.”

Synapse is a statewide non-profit organization that brings communities from Pensacola to Miami to Tampa and everyone in between together aiming to connects and catalyze Florida’s innovation community. Curated events and targeted engagement enable the organization to make meaningful connections.  They connect key stakeholders across industries, technologies and geographies: entrepreneurs, investors, corporate innovation leaders, policy makers, innovation enablers, entrepreneur support organizations, educational leaders, and talent. Synapse celebrates, discovers and engages thought leaders, doers, creators, and entrepreneurs driving innovation across the state of Florida and beyond.

The overall vision of Synapse is to be an all-encompassing, interactive, and flexible methodology for building, facilitating, and exposing the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem of Florida. The organization is elevating Florida’s profile as a global innovation leader by connecting people so they can inspire, energize, and impact the world. To learn more, visit https://synapsefl.com/

By Nikki Cabus

Innovation leader Leigh-Ann Buchanan steps down as leader of aīre ventures – What’s next?

Read Time 4 Minutes

After seven years, Leigh-Ann Buchanan, is stepping down as President of aīre ventures.

Leigh-Ann has been a staple leader in the tech and innovation ecosystem in South Florida known for her passion and work building a more inclusive and equitable ecosystem. As the founding executive of aīre ventures, a venture studio focused on scaling tech and innovation solutions addressing systemic gaps in access, opportunity and racial equity, Leigh-Ann lead strategic efforts around innovation for the social impact.

As part of the aīre ventures portfolio, Leigh-Ann was able to launch multiple projects portfolio companies including Tech Equity Miami, Opportunity Connect, Talent Scout, Passport, REDI Scorecard, Capital Days, Venture Café and more. Under her leadership, the portfolio ventures collectively served more than 55,000 innovators, 85 local small business entrepreneurs of color, and over 750 students from underrepresented backgrounds over 4000 hours of entrepreneurial support in collaboration with over 1000 organizations and partners. Leigh-Ann has raised over $5.5 million in equity free capital to fund the projects and helped syndicate over $55 million in philanthropic capital for digital equity initiatives. Impressively, these efforts served a diverse demographic of over 70% people of color and 49% women.

Leigh-Ann did share that although she is stepping down that she will continue to support the organization as a strategic advisor and overall equity-driven efforts that leverage tech, innovation and social investment to transform communities.

In a social media post, Leigh-Ann wrote, “I’m delighted to pass the baton to Paulina (Nina) Cousiño Parada who has served as Managing Director since late 2022. Nina brings a wealth of experience in both the public and nonprofit sector to her new role and has been an aīre ventures team member since 2019. I am confident that aīre ventures will continue to thrive in the capable hands of Nina, our dynamic team, and dedicated board.”

Paulina has been the Strategy and Impact Manager leading the development and implementation of an impact and evaluation strategy across aīre ventures. She has experience working in the public sector in Chile, and the nonprofit sector in Boston, where she worked for The Social Innovation Forum, an organization dedicated to accelerating and building the capacity of nonprofits in the Boston area. She has worked in an array of roles throughout her career including strategic planning, impact and program evaluation, and fundraising and development. After graduating in 2018 with an MBA in Public and Nonprofit Management from Boston University, Paulina moved to Miami where she now resides.

Leigh-Ann, a former commercial litigation and white collar defense lawyer loves strategy. After finding her way into tech in 2016, she has continued to use her love of strategy as an ecosystem builder and voice for the underrepresented population in South Florida. She has been very successful in hiring great professionals to lead the aīre ventures portfolio companies continually aiming to foster a “culture of excellence by prioritizing people, purposeful work, and excellence in impact.”

 

What’s next for Leigh-Ann?

Leigh-Ann has has accepted the role as President of the newly formed Miami-Dade Innovation Authority Inc. (Innovation Authority).

During her recent State of the County Address, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced county grant funding for the newly formed nonprofit which was created to support equitable, sustainable economic growth driven in partnership between private and public sector innovation.

The Innovation Authority was established with seed funding commitments of $3 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, $3 million from Citadel CEO Ken Griffin, and $3 million from Miami-Dade County to provide grants to innovative companies working to solve pressing community challenges in climate, health, housing, transit, and more.

“With pilot programs and an openness to creative solutions, we are flipping the way government does business by inviting businesses to pilot their innovations with us,” said County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.

Working hand in hand with private sector funders to support best-in-class startups, the organization will leverage private investment dollars to maximize their impact –applying seed funding from the County to identify and solve local problems, and creating a path for successful entrepreneurs to scale and access private funding.

The Innovation Authority has three focus areas:

  • Challenge Grants: to issue and oversee challenge grants designed to test and validate technology,
  • Pipeline Support: to work in collaboration with local academic institutions to help scaling companies find talent and build a strong corporate culture based out of Miami-Dade
  • Tech Ecosystem Enhancement: to continue the rapid growth of the tech sector and to cement Miami-Dade as a world-class location for innovation.

The Innovation Authority’s Board of Directors has appointed Leigh-Ann A. Buchanan, Esq., as President to lead the launch of the organization and support its strategic vision to scale solutions for people most affected by critical challenges, improve economic and social outcomes, and make Miami-Dade a world class capital for high growth companies.

Congratulations, Leigh-Ann!!

By Nikki Cabus

2 tech companies join Boca Raton Innovation Campus including autonomous vehicles

Read Time 2 Minutes

The Boca Raton Innovation Campus, or “BRIC.” is welcoming two tech companies to it’s list of technology and life science tenants” autonomous vehicle startup, Guidant Corp., and cybersecurity firm, Arete.

Guident Corp developed patented software solutions utilizing artificial intelligence technologies for making autonomous vehicles safer and in turn increasing overall adoption. Harald Braun, Chairman and CEO of Guidant, brings decades of experience with him including formerly the President and CEO at Nokia Siemens North America and being recognized as one of America’s “Top 100 Voices of the IP Communications Industry” by Internet Telephony magazine. Additionally, Guidant’s board of directors includes a team of experts from companies such as Aviat Networks, Audi, Ford, General Motors, Volkswagen and ZipCar.

The startup will relocate from Florida Atlantic University’s Tech Runway where they won the annual Launch Competition in 2020. 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.  The incubator/accelerator provides the most promising startups and talented entrepreneurs in South Florida with an opportunity to join a year-long program that offers competition winners “best-in-class” instruction, mentoring, networking, marketing, capital-raising assistance, co-working space, events, intern support and other vital programs.

A panel of judges, including successful entrepreneurs, technology investors, entrepreneurship professors, economic development professionals, philanthropists, and commercial bankers selected Guident Ltd. as the winner of the competition. The judges were convinced that the company creating a Remote Monitoring and Control Center in Florida for autonomous vehicles (AVs) applying artificial intelligence, and their first use-case for ‘zero-touch’ ground-based delivery of groceries and medicines, would be the right choice to create significant value in South Florida and nationwide.

The Boca Raton Innovation Campus is the home of the first IBM personal computer and research hub. It’s the largest single facility office building in the state at 1.7 million square feet, 123 acres and includes the country’s longest hallway at a length of 907 feet long. ‘CP Group, formerly Crocker Partners, acquired BRiC in 2018 with the vision of building off its innovative past and evolve the campus, through a multimillion dollar renovation project, into the premier technology and life sciences hub in the Southeast’ competing with Silicon Valley and bring more technology companies to South Florida. The campus is currently home to some big name tech and life science companies such as ModMed, Canon, Bluegreen Vacations and Baptist Health South Florida.

Social Mobile recognized at ETMA’s Innovation of the Year Award winner
TEDxBocaRaton does it again, this year’s theme ‘Divergence’
TEDx is Coming to the Treasure Coast: “Emerge” set to illuminate minds with Ideas, Inspiration, and Innovation
TEDxBocaRaton 2024 is welcoming 11 speakers; theme Divergence
DSS Director of Strategic Innovation Meggie Soliman Wins IGNITE 2024 Award
PBSC Belle Glade campus awarded $4 million grant to improve broadband access for the local community
Research Park at Florida Atlantic Elects 2024 Officers; Vote Marks First Time an FAU President is Chair Since 1985
Meet the 7 new startups welcomed into the 3rd 35 Mules cohort at FPL
Tech Hub Announces 2023 Golden Palm Award Honorees
Meet the CIO Winners of the South Florida 2023 ORBIE Awards
Miami-based Kind Designs wins Florida Venture Forum’s Aerospace + EmergingTech Forum 2023
Brian Kornfeld steps down as CEO of Synapse; yet another Florida female leader is crowned
Innovation leader Leigh-Ann Buchanan steps down as leader of aīre ventures – What’s next?
2 tech companies join Boca Raton Innovation Campus including autonomous vehicles