South Florida Tech HubSouth Florida Tech Hub

By Adam Elitzur

New Leadership at the Helm of South Florida’s Tech Hub

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South Florida Tech Hub is under new leadership for 2024 with Deana Pizzo, CEO at I.T. Solutions of South Florida, taking over as chair and Grace Kurian, Executive Director at NextEra Energy, as vice chair.

Deana Pizzo has been involved in the tech industry for two decades. “I like to serve for non-profits. And the fact that the South Florida Tech Hub is a non-profit within my industry, I felt it was an organization that I really wanted to be part of. I wanted to help strengthen the tech footprint in South Florida and I felt that the Tech Hub was the best place for me to serve.”

Grace Kurian has been working with NextEra Energy for 22 years, and most recently has been leading the digital journey for the nuclear fleet. “Having grown up in South Florida, I have a passion to see the region grow our technology footprint, so that it continues to be a great place to live and work,” Kurian remarked. “I connected with the South Florida Tech Hub when I served on the board of Tech Lauderdale. When Tech Hub joined forces to include the entire tri-county area, it was exciting for me both personally and professionally because I lived and worked in Palm Beach, grew up in Fort Lauderdale, and I felt like we were bringing the unique strengths of the tri-county together.”

Pizzo, who recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of her company, I.T. Solutions of South Florida, has goals to unify the tech community in South Florida. “The primary goal is collaboration,” Pizzo stated. “Right now we are working on taking the three counties, Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade and creating a tech sector in the South Florida market. That is something that I want to continue pursuing this year and continue driving home. Collaboration for the tech community within South Florida.”

Kurian strives to expand the technology ecosystem. “I want to make sure that tech executives and professionals feel that South Florida is a great place to attract, develop and grow talent,” Kurian stated. “Florida’s economy is bigger than that of many countries. Our businesses are a vital part of Florida’s economic growth.”

Pizzo and Kurian are both looking forward to the role. “I’m very excited to lead the organization this year,” Pizzo remarked. “I’m very excited that at the helm are three women this year. Nikki, as the CEO, myself as chair and Grace as vice chair. I’m really excited about making a difference for girls in tech this year.”

“I have been in the energy and utility industry for more than two decades, so I’m excited to connect with technology professionals, beyond the energy sector, who are right here in my backyard,” Kurian stated.

Pizzo recognizes challenges that she is determined to overcome this year. “The biggest challenges right now are creating unity within the tech community in South Florida,” Pizzo mentioned. “It can be a little fractured. And this particular organization, the Tech Hub, we don’t want to take over where any other organization is. We want to help bring all of the different organizations together.”

Kurian sees another challenge. “Skill sets are constantly evolving and the programming language I learned when I first started my career after college is not what we need today,” Kurian remarked. “Attracting tech talent, but also keeping those skills fresh so that we are constantly innovating and keeping our skills current is a challenge we have to tackle. But one of our greatest opportunities is that the public and private sector are investing in powering our businesses with AI and the latest technology. So I feel that our trajectory in tech is bright.”

Both see major opportunities in capitalizing on emerging technologies like AI. “Data is king, and how businesses capitalize on that data to make good decisions by leveraging AI, by leveraging technology, which will be the differentiator between good and great businesses,” Kurian noted.

Fostering diversity is also a key focus. The Tech Hub works with organizations to inspire girls to pursue tech careers as early as high school. “We have a really strong women’s group and we foster the collaboration of women within tech,” Pizzo explained.

“I’m really excited that I get to work with two very talented women, Deana and Nikki,” Kurian stated. “I believe that diversity is not just diversity of gender and ethnicity, but diversity of thought. Inspiring more people to pursue careers, and sharing that this is a potential career path for young students who are thinking about where to start is important. I hope that the organization continues to grow, but also continues to diversify as more programs are opened up to students early on. One program that I’m really excited about is that the Tech Hub was a catalyst for bringing to South Florida the Mark Cuban Foundation AI Bootcamp for high school students.”

Pizzo and Kurian have distinctive leadership qualities. “I like to describe them as three tenets: character, commitment, and curiosity,” Kurian shared. “Character is showing up. Commitment is being fully devoted to the organization’s mission and values. And lastly, curiosity is being a continuous learner.”

The Tech Hub has an active year planned under Pizzo and Kurian’s leadership, including the Golden Palms Awards in August and TECHpalooza in December. “We just had our golf tournament, which was a huge success,” Pizzo stated. “We’re really looking forward to Golden Palms. We already have the wheels turning on TECHpalooza and it’s going to be huge. We’re moving it to a new location at the convention center, and it will knock it out of the park this year.”

Pizzo and Kurian offered advice for aspiring technology leaders. “Don’t take no for an answer,” Pizzo stated. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and you can find it. Work hard and be a good person.”

“Be willing to learn and take risks,” Kurian recommended. “Be willing to listen to the ideas of other individuals and have a willingness to experiment and innovate so that we are incrementally finding improvements that will be game changers over time.”

Pizzo envisions a bright future for the Tech Hub. “I see the Tech Hub in a few years as the pivotal go-to tech organization in South Florida that everybody can go to to find tech resources for the whole region. We can get there through collaboration and relationships.”

Kurian is hopeful for the future of the region. “I hope that the businesses that are here today have a bigger footprint in South Florida” Kurian stated. “I also hope that we’ve attracted a wide range of national and international businesses so that South Florida will be synonymous with the Silicon Valley of the South.”

By Nikki Cabus

FPL helps two Florida classrooms transform into Innovative STEM labs

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Two Florida schools, Gifford Middle School in Vero Beach and Lake Shore Middle School in Belle Glade, each celebrated the reveals of their classrooms transformations into Innovative STEM labs.

In 2023 both schools were awarded a $50,000 Classroom Makeover Grant to improve technology, equipment and resources for the next generation of innovators. The NextEra Energy Foundation awarded the grants as part of Florida Power & Light Company’s commitment to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education.

As America’s largest electric utility, Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) 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.

On February 15, after a year of renovations, Lake Shore Middle School students got to experience their new STEM) lab. The Education Foundation of Palm Beach County and the School District of Palm Beach County, in collaboration with the Florida Power & Light Company (FPL), celebrated the successful completion of the STEM Classroom Makeover project at Lake Shore Middle School in Belle Glade. The project brought cutting-edge technology, including iPads, a 3D printer, robotics kits, and STEM project tables, to the school, creating an immersive and engaging learning experience for students.

“We are overwhelmed with gratitude for the support and generosity of FPL,” said Phylis Handford, Single School Culture Coordinator at Lake Shore Middle School.

“This grant has not only transformed our classroom physically but has also inspired our students and rejuvenated our entire school community. We sincerely thank FPL for its commitment to STEM education and for championing initiatives that enhance the learning experience for our students.”

FPL and its partners organized a ceremony at the school to showcase the newly redesigned classroom and highlight the positive impact of education on the lives of local students. FPL engineers led a generator build competition and a virtual career discussion to introduce students to different STEM-focused careers.

On February 22, students from Gifford Middle School in Vero Beach participated in a generator build competition with Florida Power & Light Company during their STEM Classroom Makeover Reveal. FPL was joined by the Education Foundation of Indian River County and the Indian River School District to celebrate the completion of the STEM Classroom Makeover.

As a Title I STEAM school with a focus on Marine and Robotics, Gifford Middle is a part of a SeaPerch Robotics program through Embry Riddle. This grant will further support the school’s efforts to expose students to unique educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics.

“Having this opportunity to expose my students to cutting-edge technologies, cutting-edge processes and procedures that are out there in the industry is phenomenal. It’s a great opportunity and I can’t thank FPL enough,” stated Principal Chadwick Bacon.

FPL’s STEM Classroom Makeover Grant program provides grants for $50,000 each to up to five schools in Florida to provide transformational learning opportunities in historically disadvantaged K-12 classrooms. Funds are available to address needs in infrastructure, technology or resources that will advance STEM curricula, exposure and careers to students in a classroom setting.

For more information about FPL’s STEM Classroom Makeover Grant and its commitment to education, please visit FPL.com/ClassroomGrant.

 

By Nikki Cabus

ZimVie Completes Sale of Spine Business to an Affiliate of H.I.G. Capital for $375 Million Establishes Pure-Play Dental Business

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ZimVie Inc. (Nasdaq: ZIMV), a global life sciences leader in the dental market, announced that it has closed the previously communicated sale of its Spine business to an affiliate of H.I.G. Capital for $375 million in total consideration, including $315 million in cash and a $60 million promissory note.

ZimVie is a global life sciences leader in the dental market that develops, manufactures, and delivers a comprehensive portfolio of products and solutions designed to support dental tooth replacement and restoration procedures. From its headquarters in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and additional facilities around the globe, ZimVie works to improve smiles, function, and confidence in daily life by offering comprehensive tooth replacement solutions, including trusted dental implants, biomaterials, and digital workflow solutions. As a worldwide leader in this space, ZimVie is committed to advancing clinical science and technology foundational to restoring daily life.

“The completion of the sale of our Spine business is the culmination of months of partnership with H.I.G. Capital and years of commitment from our global Spine team members; I would like to thank everyone for their immense contributions,” said Vafa Jamali, President and Chief Executive Officer.

“I could not be more excited for the future of our company as we continue to invest in differentiated solutions for Dental patients and providers in our most attractive end markets, while optimizing our structure to deliver value for our shareholders.”

Under the terms of the agreement, ZimVie will receive $375 million in total consideration, comprised of $315 million in cash, subject to certain customary adjustments as set forth in the agreement, and $60 million in the form of a promissory note that will accrue interest at a rate of 10% per annum, compounded semi-annually, payable in kind, subject to a maturity no later than five and a half years from today’s closing.

As previously communicated, ZimVie expects to achieve an annualized financial profile of $455+ million in Net Sales, and a 15%+ adjusted EBITDA margin(1) one year following the close of the deal. ZimVie intends to immediately pay down $275 million of outstanding debt, leaving total debt of approximately $234 million, and estimated cash of approximately $66 million as of April 2, 2024. (1) This is a non-GAAP financial measure for which a reconciliation to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measure is not available without unreasonable efforts.

Globally, ZimVie trained 100,000+ dental professionals across its six institutes and virtual programs in 2024. Almost a year ago, ZimVie opened the newest of its ZimVie Institute locations right here in South Florida located in Palm Beach Gardens. ZimVie Institute South, features over 11,000 sq. ft of dedicated education and training space, with state-of-the-art facilities offering life-like simulated patient models, a cadaver lab, and fully integrated digital workflow with 3D printing capabilities, REALGUIDE Software, and a mill.

ZimVie’s newest facility expands its Institute model to allow the company to host cadaver and simulation courses that teach advanced surgical and restorative techniques for full mouth reconstructions. It also hosts comprehensive training events on everything from practice management to digital workflow training using ZimVie’s RealGUIDE software. Located at ZimVie Dental’s headquarters, the facility is also home to product manufacturing, allowing Institute guests the opportunity to see firsthand where and how ZimVie products are made.

For more info on ZimVie, please visit www.zimvie.com/en

By Adam Elitzur

Driving South Florida’s Tech Landscape: Michael Fowler’s Journey Through Tech and Leadership

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Michael Fowler, former board chair of South Florida Tech Hub and current chair of TECHpalooza, is a driving force in the region’s tech landscape. With a career spanning decades in the energy industry, Fowler has held key roles at NextEra Energy and currently at its subsidiary, Florida Power & Light (FPL), serving as the business unit chief information officer.

In 2010, Fowler moved to Florida but initially struggled to find the pulse of the local technology community. However, he made it his mission to uncover pockets of innovation. “It took me a few years to find South Florida Tech Hub. When I found that, I jumped in with both feet,” he explained. For Fowler, a rewarding aspect of South Florida Tech Hub has been finding the intersection between local companies and the tech community.

As board chair of South Florida Tech Hub, a role he held for five years, Fowler played a pivotal role in merging TechLauderdale and Palm Beach Tech into the unified organization, South Florida Tech Hub. “As a region, it was beneficial to all if we operated as one tech community,” he said.

One of Fowler’s proudest achievements with South Florida Tech Hub was facilitating the expansion of Mark Cuban’s AI Boot Camp in South Florida, growing from one to three camps across Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties. “The fact that we can be a unified tech region enables us to participate in programs like the boot camp and attract similar opportunities,” Fowler noted.

Cultivating close partnerships with local universities has been a key focus area for Fowler during his time at South Florida Tech Hub. He recognizes the importance of developing a strong pipeline of tech talent from within the region to meet industry demands. Fowler has worked diligently to engage higher education institutions like Miami Dade College, Florida Atlantic University, and Florida International University to align their curricula with industry needs. “Even with students who want to pursue degrees and interests outside of tech, I still think that having a core of tech is really powerful for any career,” Fowler mentioned.

Fostering tech talent remains a priority for Fowler, who believes in exposing students to STEM education from an early age. “I want us to continue getting more K-12 students involved in STEM,” Fowler remarked. “I think there’s more work we have to do to engage young minds and get them excited about STEM so that they want to pursue advanced degrees in this area.”

Looking ahead, Fowler is excited about his role as the incoming chair of TECHpalooza, an annual technology conference hosted by South Florida Tech Hub, aiming to double the event’s attendance to 5,000 this year. TECHpalooza will be hosted at the Broward Convention Center on December 11th, 2024.

Fowler envisions an exciting future for the tech industry, particularly in the realm of AI. “I’m an optimist and think it will take a lot of humans for this journey to be successful. I see AI being a tremendous tool that all of us will use in our daily lives,” he remarked, emphasizing AI’s role in augmenting human capabilities.

With his wealth of experience and vision, Michael Fowler continues to be a driving force in shaping the region’s tech landscape, nurturing talent, and fostering collaboration among industry giants and local innovators alike.

By Nikki Cabus

Florida Atlantic’s Tech Runway announced its 13th cohort companies

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FAU Tech Runway® recently accepted 13 companies to participate in the 13th cohort of its Venture Program.

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 13 companies in Venture Class 13 are:

  • Alumni Direct, LLC removes the noise from other networking platforms by bringing members into one centralized location. Alumni Direct makes it easy to network and connect in communities dedicated to a university, sport, Greek organization or business.
  • BiDR TV LLC represents a groundbreaking venture in the realm of e-commerce, seamlessly merging online and traditional retail experiences to redefine the consumer shopping journey with a laser focus on enhancing user satisfaction, safety and engagement.
  • BookMark’d is an AI college assistance platform that helps college students on campus find affordable college materials, academic advising for navigating course selection, and access to receive 24/7 AI tutoring for their exact course code.
  • ByeUni LLC is a website and app that is a cross between LinkedIn and crowdfunding. It allows college students and college-bound students to post and communicate with followers and to collect money/donations from them.
  • Digiagee is a digital agency via a smartphone that enables users to reach the right people with the right message in five minutes. It is custom ad alchemy and is AI/ML powered.
  • GrowFrom Inc. is the world’s first free platform for personal growth and development. On GrowFrom users can store goals and get useful tools to help stay focused on them throughout the week.
  • Hello Sunshine LLC: Take on Trades is building the new generation of trade workers through a new method of engaging trade companies with the young people who will comprise its future workforce.
  • Neurodiverse Educational Testing (N.E.T.) offers advanced AI-driven assessments for neurodiversity, facilitating early diagnosis and tailored support for children. N.E.T. enhances 504 education plans, empowering families and educators to address the unique needs of neurodiverse students.
  • Property Vue Media, LLC provides site documentation and management solutions using digital twin technology for the construction and utility sectors.
  • SDB_Automate provides software services that revolutionize ocean depth determination and navigation using satellite images and AI technology to enhance safety in navigation, support sustainable fishing practices, and improve water tourism.
  • Shorts IQ, Inc. is a short videos machine that customizes storytelling templates from performing videos based on brand and necessities.
  • Stone Pine Marketing and Productions LLC is a marketing agency with an in-house video production team. It tailors services specifically for the needs of nonprofits and offers discounted, affordable rates for these organizations.
  • Vektor Freight LLC is a logistics company that provides airline-like speed at the cost of ground transport. Through its network of relay points, combined with AI, it achieves “continuous flow trucking” that cuts truckload delivery times up to 50 percent.

Venture Class 13 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 are now currently being accepted.

For more information on FAU Tech Runway®, visit techrunway.fau.edu.

By Nikki Cabus

Palm Beach County startup TurboDocx announces successful pre-seed funding round

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TurboDocx announced a significant milestone as the company closed its pre-seed funding round, raising $75,000.

The Palm Beach County-based TurboDocx was founded in 2022 and is at the forefront of the digital transformation in document and slide deck creation. By leveraging modular, centralized content and cutting-edge AI technologies, TurboDocx aims to simplify and improve the document creation process for professionals and businesses worldwide.

With a strong focus on user-driven innovation, TurboDocx is dedicated to delivering solutions that empower users with efficiency, creativity, and control over their digital content. TurboDocx let’s you create documents and slide decks in a matter of minutes savings companies valueable time and money.

Thanks to the generous backing of friends, family, and early supporters, the company has successfully raised $75,000 achieving more than a financial milestone, but a strong endorsement of the vision TurboDocx is pursuing and the innovative strides it is making in the field of document automation.

“We are immensely grateful for the support that extends far beyond financial contributions,” expressed Nicolas Fry, CEO of TurboDocx. “This backing is a clear vote of confidence in our mission to transform document and slide deck creation with modular content accelerated by artificial intelligence. It empowers us to move forward with our vision, driving innovation that matters to our users.”

“At TurboDocx, we understand the importance of structure in document creation. Our initial phase focuses on deconstructing your existing documents into modular building blocks,” states Fry. “This lays the foundational ‘knowledge’ necessary for the next steps in our smart document evolution.”

TurboDocx remains steadfast in its focus, channeling this support to further develop its collaboration flows, AI capabilities, and ensuring that the solutions set benchmarks for efficiency, re-usability, and innovation. The company is dedicated to advancing its technology in ways that directly respond to the evolving needs of professionals and businesses alike.

The recent funding will accelerate the company’s efforts to enhance its collaboration toolsets, AI capabilities, refine user experience, and expand its offerings to meet and exceed market expectations. The funding will support focused partner and client need research to understand and address the evolving needs of users, enhanced solutions that set new benchmarks for efficiency, re-usability, and innovation, and go-to-market (GTM) consisting of partner and channel growth with support from TuboDocx investment team and advisors.

TurboDocx’s approach to development is deeply rooted in a commitment to meaningful innovation. “Our partners and clients are the compass that guides our product roadmap. Their feedback and needs inspire our innovation, helping us prioritize features and capabilities that deliver real value,” Fry noted.

To learn more about TurboDocx, please visit www.turbodocx.com

By Nikki Cabus

Gary Vaynerchuk is coming to West Palm Beach as keynote for PBSC Foundation STEAM luncheon

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One of the leading global minds on innovation and technology, Gary Vaynerchuk will be coming to West Palm Beach in April!

Gary Vaynerchuk or “GaryVee” as he is known will be the keynote speaker at Palm Beach State College Foundation’s Yvonne S. Boice STEAM Luncheon on Tuesday, April 16th from 11:30 am – 1:30 pm. He will share his insights on how to bring your brand to the forefront with people and technology.

Presented by Bank of America, the event will be held at the beautiful Kravis Center for Performing Arts Cohen Pavilion in West Palm Beach. Other sponsors of the event include South Florida Tech Hub and the Palm Beach Post.

The mission of the Foundation at Palm Beach State College is to seek philanthropic gifts and partnerships to further initiatives and opportunities that transform students’ lives and impact the economic and cultural prosperity of the community.

Today’s Foundation for Palm Beach State is defined by relationships – the ones that bring partners, friends and donors committed to the students they serve and the community we share. The Foundation provides value to the College by expanding awareness of and engagement in Palm Beach State while accepting, stewarding and distributing philanthropic gifts in accordance with donors’ wishes.

After a three-year hiatus from 2021-23 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the signature event aims to increase scholarships, business partnerships and internship opportunities to support students pursuing science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics fields.

“GaryVee is a globally respected and admired leader and one of the most forward thinkers in business,” said PBSC President Ava L. Parker, J.D.

“His participation in our STEAM Luncheon will help amplify our initiatives to educate our students in critical STEAM fields and support the STEAM employers in our area.”

Keynote speaker, Gary Vaynerchuk is a serial entrepreneur, prolific angel investor, international social media influencer, and is considered one of the leading global minds on what’s next in culture, relevance and the internet. He is described as one of the most forward thinkers in business – he acutely recognizes trends and patterns early to help others understand how these shifts impact consumer behavior. Whether it’s emerging artists, esports, NFT investing, or digital communications, Gary understands how to bring brand relevance to the forefront.

GaryVee is the Chairman of VaynerX, the CEO of VaynerMedia, and the Creator & CEO of VeeFriends. Through VaynerMedia, a full-service advertising agency, he helps Fortune 1000 brands leverage consumer attention. VaynerMedia is part of the VaynerX holding company, including Eva Nosidam Productions, Vayner3, Gallery Media Group, The Sasha Group, VaynerSpeakers, and VaynerCommerce.

GaryVee is also prolific angel investor with early investments in companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, Venmo, Snapchat, Coinbvase, and Uber. He is also the co-founder of VaynerSports, Resy and Empathy Wines. He guided both Resy and Empathy to successful exits – which were sold respectively to American Express and Constellation Brands. He is also a board member at Candy Digital, co-founder of VCR Group, co-founder of ArtOfficial, and co-founder of VaynerWATT.

GaryVee also documents his life daily as a CEO through his social media channels, which have more than 44 million followers and garnish over 173 million monthly impressions/views across all platforms. In addition, Vee was recently named to the Fortune list of the Top 50 Influential people in the NFT industry.

“We are thrilled to welcome Mr. Vaynerchuk as his expertise with today’s cutting-edge technologies and passion for entrepreneurship complements Palm Beach State’s advancements in these areas,” said David Rutherford, vice president of Institutional Advancement and CEO of the Foundation for PBSC.

“As the College has become a leader in innovation and educational technology, it is very fitting to have a pioneer of his magnitude to reignite Palm Beach State’s signature event.”

The annual luncheon will honor the philanthropic legacy of the College’s late friend, STEAM chair and respected pillar in the community Yvonne S. Boice, who passed away last year. According to an article on the National Trust for Humanities website, “Boice’s years of service and dedication to her numerous arts, cultural and humanities endeavors was recognized across academia and the U.S. government.”

“Boice led national and local fundraising efforts—chairing initiatives ranging from the Trust to Palm Beach State College’s STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) efforts and community space improvements. Boice served as Chair of the Palm Beach International Film Festival, Vice-Chair of the Centre for the Arts at Mizner Park, Chair of the board of overseers of Lynn University and was a long-time supporter of Palm Beach Community College. She also served as a board member of the YMCA of Boca Raton and South Palm Beach County. In recognition of her work, she was honored with many prestigious awards and two honorary doctorate degrees.”

In 2013, Palm Beach State College launched a major initiative to impact a projected shortage of skilled professionals in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) related fields. STEAM scholarships position students for high-paying, high-demand jobs that further their economic mobility and the local workforce.Now named for our dearly departed friend, inspiration and STEAM chairperson, The Yvonne S. Boice STEAM Luncheon honors her memory and welcomes Mr. Gary Vaynerchuk.

If you would like to be a part of the Tech Hub table at the event, please email team@techhubsouthflorida.org

To purchase individual tickets please visit, www.palmbeachstate.edu/foundation/steam.

By Nikki Cabus

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

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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

FAU Adams Center Director Wins Best Paper at National Conference

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Florida Atlantic University’s Director of the Adams Center for Entrepreneurship was awarded top honors at a national conference. 

Kevin Cox PH.D., Director of the Adams Center for Entrepreneurship at Florida Atlantic University‘s College of Business, along with Regina Thompson, Assistant Director of Strategic and Economic Initiatives in FAU’s Division of Research, won best conceptual paper for their research on prototype development at the “Forging Your Future Together” conference held by USASBE in January.

Founded in 1981, the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE) is an inclusive community of educators, researchers, and entrepreneurs advancing entrepreneurship education through bold teaching, scholarship, and practice. Membership is open to all, as is attendance at USASBE’s hallmark annual conference. USASBE also publishes a peer-reviewed academic journal, Entrepreneurship Education & Pedagogy, and develops a variety of helpful resources and professional development opportunities for entrepreneurship educators as they create a positive impact.

Held January 10th – 14th in Birmingham, Alabama, the USASBE 2024: Forging the Future Together Conference aimed to shape and sharpen the dynamic discipline of entrepreneurship education through moulding effective pedagogy, recasting innovation, strengthening thought leadership. The world needs entrepreneurship education more than ever and the conference allowed attendees to share tools, technologies, and talents as they build community and forge the future together. Check out the conference program here.

Teachers share best practices, but also challenging existing paradigms of how entrepreneurship should be taught, to whom, and what ends. Researchers move the practice of entrepreneurship education forward and translating cutting-edge entrepreneurship research into teachable content. Program directors and practitioners complement classroom-based entrepreneurship education with practical immersion experiences in the broader entrepreneurship community.

The conference held their annual Excellence in Entrepreneurship Education Awards where Dr. Kevin Cox from Florida Atlantic Unversity’s Adams Center for Entrepreneurship accepted an award for Best Conceptual Paper. The paper, “Deconstructing the MVP: Fundamental Elements,” looks at practical applications for developing prototypes and the amount of resources that goes into it for start-up companies. The paper was coauthored by Jason Lortie, Sean DeRossett and Scott Kelly, all with Florida Gulf Coast University.

“I’m honored that the work my colleagues and I put into this research project focused on enhancing entrepreneurship theory and education related to prototype development was recognized by our expert peers and top entrepreneurship educators from around the country,” Dr. Kevin Cox said.

“This recognition also highlights our contributions to the development of new promising approaches for the future.”

Dr. Cox, who had been serving as the assistant director of the Adams Center for Entrepreneurship since 2016, stepped into the Director role in August 2023. He received his Ph.D. in business administration from Florida Atlantic University in 2016. His areas of research include entrepreneurship, new venture creation, and finance and social entrepreneurship. He is also the lead instructor at FAU’s Tech Runway New Venture Accelerator, a public-private partnership that helps accelerate tech development and start-up companies.

“We won Best Conceptual Research Paper at the #USASBE 2024 conference #forgingthefuture,” contributor Regina Thompson, M.B.A., wrote in a social media post.

“It was a great experience with a TON of brilliant entrepreneurial minds in one place. Very happy to have contributed with Kevin Cox, Jason Lortie, Scott Kelly, and Sean DeRossett.”

Working with both students andf the larger entrepreneurial community, Regina’s mission is two-fold. She aims to develop the best candidates for the workforce and entrepreneurship by engaging students in experiential learning opportunities, professional development programs and initiatives, and fostering corporate relationships. She accmplishes this by providing educational workshops, developing soft skills, and connecting community entrepreneurs and early stage startups with FAU resources that enhance our South Florida entrepreneurial ecosystem and promotes their success.

“Kevin Cox and colleagues’ winning this award at the conference highlights the contributions our FAU Management Programs faculty members are making in the field of entrepreneurship,” said Ethlyn Williams, Ph.D., department chair of Management Programs in the College of Business.

“Not only is our faculty advancing scholarship, but they are also providing students with innovative experiences in our entrepreneurship programs.”

To learn more about the Adams Center for Entrepreneurship and the work that Dr. Cox and his team are doing, visit www.business.fau.edu/centers/adams-center/about-the-adams-center/

By Nikki Cabus

JA Inspire 2024 inspires middle school students in Palm Beach County

Read Time 4 Minutes

Junior Achievement of the Palm Beaches & Treasure Coast holds their annual JA Inspire visiting three different middle schools this year in Palm Beach County. 

Junior Achievement of the Palm Beaches & Treasure Coast has served 810,727 K-12 students since 1981 throughout Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, and Hendry counties. The mission is to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy through classroom programs and simulations that focus on financial literacy, workforce readiness, and entrepreneurship.

JA Inspire is more than a career fair. In collaboration with the Palm Beach County School District, the event brings together the business community and local schools and is designed to help launch middle school students into their futures: high school, college and beyond. During the JA Inspire expo which is held in-person within multiple middle schools, students participate in hands-on activities, often experiencing equipemt or tools used on the job. The experience is configurable to align with local industry and career opportunities based on the four competencies: creativity, collaboration, commuication, and critical thinking.

This year’s JA Inspire Palm Beach County ‘s 2024 events were held at the following middle schools:

Local companies have the chance to showcase their industry passion, career opportunities, engage with students through hands-on activities, and make a lasting impression on the future workforce of Palm Beach County. On the other hand, students get to connect with professionals from some of the region’s most prominent employers, explore career pathways and learn about the skills needed for in-demand jobs, explore their own interests with a variety of career opportunities, and strengthen their coursework pathway for high school and beyond.

Junior Achievement of the Palm Beaches & Treasure Coast had a goal of impacting 8,600 students in the 2022 – 2023 school year. With support from organizations such as the Glenn W. Bailey Foundation and Wells Fargo, they were able to serve over 146,000 students overall! Over 98,600 students alone were reached through just three programs: JA Inspire, JA Career Speaker Series, and JA High School programs.

“I’m so happy for Junior Achievement [of the Palm Beach & Treasure Coast]. They always have the forsight to make sure they are in the schools making sure students knew all of the things they have needed to know as related to careers, academics, and relationships,” said Marcia Andrews, Palm Beach County School District Board Member.

She added, “When you begin to learn you need to kind of connect the careers with all the things you are learning in math, science, and technology.”

From the marine industry to healthcare and technology, multiple industries were represented. Volunteers gave their time to showcase the career opportunities, advancements in their fields, and the impact you could make in your local communities. One of those volunteers was John Riley III, Co-Founder of AVA Intelligence, South Florida Tech Hub member, Levan Center Cyber Range sales director, and loyal JA volunteer.

“I would like to give a big thank you to Lauren Henderson of Junior Achievement of the Palm Beaches & Treasure Coast for the invitation to participate in another remarkable event for their JA Inspire program,” wrote John in a social media post. “Interacting with the students and addressing their technology questions was a truly rewarding experience.”

Dr. Eugina Smith Feaman, Principal at Emerald Cove Middle School in Wellington, shared “This is a preview for their future. This is an opportunity for them to dip their toe into different careers and different opportunities that they have for their future.

If you are interested in taking part in JA Inspire or future Junior Achievement volunteer opportunities, please visit www.palmbeachtreasurecoast.ja.org for more info on events, donation and speaking opportunities.

 

By Nikki Cabus

Tech is a Hot Topic at Capital Analytics fifth anniversary of Invest: Palm Beach

Read Time 8 Minutes

On February 7th, Capital Analytics Associates, held the Invest: Palm Beach Conference highlighting insights and perspectives in the region’s business economy. 

Capital Analytics is an integrated media company that serves the needs of businesses, executives, investors and entrepreneurs through forging strategic connections and producing engaging, relevant and high-impact content. Their annual business reports have a global circulation and includes among its readers top executives working in real estate, finance, technology, trade and logistics, health, hospitality and others.

The report conducts a deep dive into the top economic sectors in the region, including real estate, construction, infrastructure, banking and finance, legal, healthcare, education and tourism. The publication is compiled from insights collected from more than 200 economic leaders, sector insiders, political leaders and heads of important institutions. It analyzes the leading challenges facing the market and uncovers emerging opportunities for investors, entrepreneurs and innovators.

Held at the luxurious boutique hotel, The Ben, on the waterfront of downtown West Palm Beach, Capital Analytics celebrated the official release of the fifth anniversary edition of Invest: Palm Beach with more than 200 business leaders in attendance. The discussions of the morning were pertaining to the key drivers impacting the present and future regional economy in Palm Beach County. The event included featured three panel discussions centered on the state of the economy, education and the future workforce, and transit-oriented development and transportation initiatives.

Panel 1: State of the Economy

Panelists included Andrew Duffel, President of Research Park at Florida Atlantic, Gary Lesser, Managing Attorney at Lesser, Lesser, Landy &Smith, PLLC, Kristin Turner, Senior Managing Director Palm Berach at RBC Wealth Management, and Carlos Diaz, Principal at Kaufman Rossin. The panel was moderated by Sandra Martin Ruiz, Regional Director at SBCD at Florida Atlantic. The panelists discussed how current trends will transform the makeup of Palm Beach’s economy and business.

The discussion focused on how quickly Palm Beach County’s business economy is transformaing. Discussions that once used to only include industries such as hospitality and healthcare now must include technology and overall innovation. Panelist Andrew Duffell spoke about the excitement across multiple industry sectors and some of the organizations doing important work in the booming technology space, supporting entreprenurship, and providing resources for research such as South Florida Tech Hub, 1909, and Research Park at FAU.

Andrew also spoke about the diversity of our region, easy access to Latin America, Europe and the Carribbean, and favorable business envoronment in South Florida. In the Invest: Palm Beach’s 5th Anniversay Edition, Andrew is quoted saying, “The population we have here in South Florida is key. We are completely diverse. No one group of anything or anyone dominated the demography of this region. That lends itself to curiousity and research. Anyone doing any kind of research, being sociologcal or clinical, wants and needs to be in South Florida in order to get a substantial cross section of the world’s profile.”

Through the Research Park‘s new international soft landings and second stage company development initiative, Global Ventures, second stage companies from around the world and United States will become profitable and sustainable companies that will positively impact South Florida’s economy.

For almost 40 years, the Research Park at Florida Atlantic University® has been home to technology companies and research-based organizations working to support scientific research at Florida Atlantic University with innovation and leadership. The Research Park aims to foster scientific research and technology-based development in Palm Beach and Broward counties and support the overall innovation across the South Florida region.

 

Panel 2: Prioritizing Education

Panelists included Valery Forbes, Dean of Charles E. Schmidt College of Science at FAU, Ralph Maurer, Head of School at Oxbridge Academy, and Linda Trethewey, Head of School at Rosarian Academy. The panel was moderated by Abby Lindenberg, President & CEO at Capital Analytics. The panelists discussed how Palm Beach County’s leaders are preparing students for the workforce of the future.

According to the 2024 randkking in niche.com, Palm Beach County boats some of the best private schools in the state of Florida including Donna Klein Jewish Academy (7th), Saint Andrew’s School (18th), Boca Prep International School (21st), The Benjamin School (22nd), Oxbridge Academy (23rd) and The King’s Academy (24th).

Exposing students to industries of interest, ensuring we train in transferrable skills, and helping our local talent understand the local opportunities avaiable to them here in the county and all around the region were topics of interest. The known issue of making sure companies are also paying competitive rates was also discussed as this leads to the brain drain in the region. Brain drain is when a large group of skilled workers leave an industry or an area causing the lack of important human capital. This is a silent killer that South Florida has faced for decades.

Each of the panelists spoke of the transfer of students from one school to another and the great relationship between each of the institutions from primary to higher education. A common theme was the quickly advancing tech industry and interjection of coding, artificial intelligence and general STEM education programs within the classrooms. Linda Threthewey spoke about the fact that she is preparing students who are going to be in the workforce in 2060 and with the advancements in technology, she has no idea what the workforce may look like then or the technical skills needed. Shje believes in the important of “critical thinking, digital and technological competency, entrepreneurial spirit” that will prepare these students to become future leaders.

According to the Florida Department of Education’s 2021 – 2022 Annual Report, of the 217,640 total PK-12 student enrollment in the 2021-22 school year, 27,981 (12.9%) were private school students and 189,659 (87.1%) were public school students. The district’s minority enrollments is approximately 70% with almost half of these students coming from underserved communities.

Although their is a desire and need for private school education through academies, charter schools, and college prepratory programs, the real need is for digital access within vulnerable communities, standard incorportated STEM education for all k-12 students, and enhanced STEM offerings for both teachers and students alike in the public school system. More collaborative efforts between governments, NGOs, and tech companies are needed to bring innovative solutions to areas lacking infrastructure. Household income set aside, we hope to see the Palm Beach County School District represented in future discussions knowing that a huge majority of the county’s students are receiving a public school education.

Invest: Palm Beach does have a feature article with Michael Burke, Superintendent for The School District of Palm Beach County where he addresses the high enrollments rates, learning loss and education gaps, teacher shortage, and even legislation and funding.

 

Panel 3: Moving Forward

Panelists included David Dech, Executive Director of Tri-Rail at South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, Jonathan Hopkins, Executive Director at WPB Mobility Coalition, Valerie Neilson, Executive Director at Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency, and Todd Bonlarron, Assistant County Administrator of Palm Beach County. The panel was moderated by Ryan Gandolfo, Senior Editor at Capital Analytics. The panelists discussed transit-oriented development and infrastructure in Palm Beach County.

This was a very interesting and important discussion addressing the increased growth across the entire county including downtown areas, lack of affordable housing, and limited land for new home construction within the county. Cities in the western communities such as Wellington and the county’s newest city Westlake are experiencing an influx of new residents, but with sky-rocketing home prices, even these communities cannot meet the needs of all incoming new residents forcing residents to look north.

According to US News and World Report, Port St. Lucie, part of the Treasure Coast just north of Palm Beach County, is ranked as the 5th fastest-growing city for homebuyers in the United States. Although, the city does not have have the business economy needed to employ its residents keeping them local. In multiple reports, including the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, has shared that over the past decade an average of 60% of workers who reside in St. Lucie County are employed outside the county with a huge majority traveling to Palm Beach County.

Both issues are causing longer drive times, congestion on the roads, a community dependent on cars, increased competition for those who live locally, and additional pollution in the area.

The introduction of Brightline was a very positive addition to the county’s transporation services between 2018 – 2023, but don’t address the needs of those living in the western communities, those coming from neighboring counties, and the underserved workforce who may need public transporation in order to get to work.

The panel discussed the lack of a Mobility Plan for connected and walkable cities like our sister counties to the south that give people access to jobs, healthcare, and other basic necessities and resources. They also brought up strategies and plans such as the Live Local Act, a comprehensive and far-reaching workforce housing initiative and the new Port St. Lucie Express, express buses from Port St. Lucie to the Intermodal Transit Center in West Palm Beach for as little as $3. All panelists agreed that education around the stigma of using public transportation is also necessary.

Todd Bonlarron educated the audience by stating, ” At the request of Commission Greg Weiss, Reltaed Companies, and others, the County Commission partnered with Related and going to Tallahassee to create some technology enhancements along the Okeechobee corridor. We’ve got about $3.5 million dollars in the state budget right now that we hope to bring back to help introduce some more of that advanced technology into our signalization here so that we can move buses, move cars a little more quickly and efficiently . . .”

He continued, “Investing in that technology and working together and looking at how we’re going to fund a lot of the big ideas that we have going forward.”

Technology was an important part of each of the morning’s panel discussions. Technology is changing. Change creates innovation. Let’s innovate together!

TOGETHER, we are #BuildingSoFlo!

Interested in checking out each of the panels for yourself? Panel 1 | Panel 2 | Panel 3

By Nikki Cabus

DSS Wins Third Place in the precisionFDA Veterans Cardiac Health and AI Model Predictions Challenge

Read Time 4 Minutes

Document Storage Systems, Inc. (DSS) announced it has been named a third-place winner in Phase 2 of the precisionFDA Veterans Cardiac Health and AI Model Predictions (V-CHAMPS) Challenge.

Palm Beach County-based DSS Inc. is a leading provider of health information technology (HIT) solutions for federal, private and public health care organizations. 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 V-CHAMPS challenge calls on the scientific and data analytics community to develop and evaluate Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) models to predict cardiovascular health related outcomes in Veterans. Cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure and peripheral artery disease, are the leading cause of hospitalization in the VA health care system, and are a major cause of disability among Veterans.

In 2013, the Department of Veterans Affairs published a study that found that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) might be an underlying cause of developing premature cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular health is an important part of Veteran health, therefore the prevention and reduction of risk for heart disease is a key area of focus for the VA.

For Phase 1, the DSS team led by Xiupeng Wei, PhD, was able to meet key criteria in the challenge using the synthetic Veteran data provided and which included a combination of clinical and data science subject matter experts. They were evaluated on innovation in clinical predictors, completeness of data science approaches, statistical metrics, and the exploration of demographics measures. As a result, the DSS team was selected as a Top Performer for Phase 1.

Phase 1 was focused on synthetic data and ran from May 25 to August 2, 2023. In this Phase of the Challenge, AI/ML models were developed by Challenge participants and trained and tested on the synthetic data sets provided to them, with a view towards predicting outcome variables for Veterans who have been diagnosed with chronic heart failure. Please note that in Phase 1, the data is synthetic Veteran health records.

For Phase 2 of the V-CHAMPS challenge, DSS won third place for creating predictive algorithms using AI/ML, which were tested used actual Veteran data, producing highly accurate results.

Phase 2 focused on validating and further exploring the limits of the AI/ML models. During this Phase, high-performing AI/ML models from Phase 1 were brought into the VA system and validated on real-world Veterans health data within the VHA.

“We are honored to be named a winner in the V-CHAMPS challenge, and are moving towards using these predictive algorithms for cardiac health in our product suite,” said Michele G. Burst, director strategic innovations, analytics at DSS.

“Our vision is to use these AI/ML capabilities to fully understand and predict Veteran health outcomes, which will have tremendous implications on the future of Veteran care.”

The primary outcome of interest for the V-CHAMPS challenge is a composite of all-cause mortality during a hospitalization and all-cause hospital readmissions. Secondary outcomes of interest are all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality during a hospitalization, hospital readmission for all causes (cardiovascular and non-cardiovascular), and hospital readmissions for cardiovascular causes.

According to the preceisionFDA website, “The V-CHAMPS Challenge showed us that artificial intelligence (AI) models that performed well on the synthetic patient data in Phase 1 also performed well on the RWD during Phase 2, highlighting the potential value of using synthetic data in AI model development. Teams that employed ensemble learning approaches also tended to perform the best. Overall, isolating the clinical features that drove model performance was considered the most critical differentiator in evaluating whether AI models could potentially be valuable aids to clinicians treating patients with cardiovascular conditions such as heart failure. A formal publication is planned to provide more detailed information on the V-CHAMPS Challenge, the challenge process, the lessons learned, and details of the models entered into the challenge.”

The V-CHAMPS challenge is managed by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Innovation Ecosystem (IE), the Digital Health Center of Excellence (DHCoE) at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the FDA Office of Digital Transformation (ODT)’s precisionFDA, and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Learn more about the V-CHAMPS Challenge winners and the challenge outcomes here.

By Nikki Cabus

2000 Students Attend the Annual ‘Claim Your Future Showcase’ in Palm Beach and Broward Counties

Read Time 4 Minutes

On January 30th and 31st, almost 2000 high school students in both Palm Beach and Broward counties hosted events allowing for a day of career exploration.

An ecominic development and career readiness initiative, the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County, Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, CareerSource Palm Beach, and the Palm Beach and Broward County school distrcits hosted events in their respective counties to showcase career opportunities to high school students. Companies were invited to participate as exhitors, speakers, mock interview volunteers, and more.

The “Claim Your Future Showcase,” was started by The Business Development Board of Palm Beach County and and then Broward County got in on the action hopsting their own as well. Each year, the goal of the events are to inspire and showcase the many career paths available to local high school students from the School District of Palm Beach County and Broward County in hopes that the students stay in South Florida after graduation. It’s a day for businesses to shine a light on their industries and for students to take another step toward their future careers.

In Palm Beach County, almost 1200 students had the opportunity to meet with companies such as Amazon, Bank of America, Cox Science Center, Discover the Palm Beaches, ESPN West Palm, Farm Credit, Finfrock, Florida Crystals, Florida Power & Light, HCA Healthcare, HotelPlanner, Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County, Keiser University, Kravis Center for Performing Arts, Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County, Memorial Healthcare System, Nova Southeastern University, Oxbow Carbon, , Palm Beach County Planning, Zoning & Building, Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa, Palm Beach State College, PBC STEM Ecosystem, Port of Palm Beach, Regions Bank, School District of Palm Beach County, The Wertheim UF Scripps Institute, Tropical Shipping, U.S. Army, Wells Fargo and many others.

In Broward County, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, in partnership with Broward County Public Schools, hosted the 7th annual Claim Your Future Showcase. The Broward event offered workforce preparation and business exposure to nearly 1,000 students from Career and Technical Education programs awaiting them in our community.

One of those companies was LAN InfoTech, a professional information technology consulting and engineering firm specializing in cybersecurity. Glen Benjamin, LAN InfoTech’s Community Account Manager and South Florida Tech Hub Board Member attended the event as an exhibitor.

Glen is a huge advocate in the community supporting talent and workforce development efforts and STEAM events for students all acros the South Florida region. Creating a proper pipeline of talent and then ensuring they are aware of the opportunities locally are crucial to building a strong and thriving ecosystem for years to come.

The day was filled with workforce development activities, including mock interviews, an executive panel discussion, and a showcase of local businesses. The sponsors that made this possible were: Advanced Roofing, the City of Fort Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, Memorial Healthcare System, Amerant Bank Arena, and Delaware North.

“Investing in our future is important. These are the future leaders of our community,” said Ft. Lauderdale City Manager, Greg Chevarria.

The panelists included:

  • Greg Chavarria | City Manager for Fort Lauderdale
  • Andrew Zullo | CEO of Leadership Broward
  • Barkha Herman, Technology CEO and non-profit founder
  • Cathy Miron | President and CEO of eSilo
  • Bryce Hollweg | COO of Florida Panthers
  • Bob Swindell | President and CEO of Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance

“Events like these have a profound impact on students, especially young women, many of whom are interested in careers in tech, but aren’t sure how to get started or who worry they don’t “fit the mold,” said Cathy Miron, CEO of eSilo and Tech Hub Board Member.

“There are plenty of local women blazing new trails across South Florida and I hope that our stories inspire the next generation of women engineers, developers, cyber analysts, and project managers,” she continued.

Students not only have the chance to meet with local employers, but they have the chance to practice networking and communication skills, apply for internships, and hear from local experts on the benefits of staying local, the business economy we have in South Florida, and some of the exciting work being done right in their backyard!

 

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 Adam Elitzur

Two Decades of Empowering Clients: The I.T. Solutions of South Florida Journey

Read Time 3 Minutes

As the 20th anniversary of I.T. Solutions of South Florida approaches, the company’s founders reflect on a history marked by growth, innovation, and an unwavering commitment to client satisfaction.

The Pizzos, Deana Pizzo, CEO, and Jason Pizzo, CIO, founded I.T. Solutions of South Florida out of their living room when they had two young children. The company is a technology services provider based in Hypoluxo, Florida that quickly evolved from a break-fix operation to a managed service provider (MSP).  Today, I.T. Solutions of South Florida boasts a robust portfolio of services, including helpdesk support, cloud infrastructure management, and cybersecurity.

“We make sure your mouse works when you click,” Deana Pizzo remarked. “Just as important, we make sure no one else can click that mouse for you, or watch you when you click. What we do is all behind the curtains, like the stage director of a show with lots of special effects. Until an end user calls us, of course – then our team goes front and center.”

One of the most exciting projects in the company’s history involved supporting the Porsche Motorsport North America racing team, setting up their line of sights and telemetry. Each race car was equipped with seven servers, communicating back to the pit various data points such as tire pressure and fuel levels. Porsche needed to ensure that this telemetry data was transmitted in real-time without interruptions for the fast-paced car racing environment, so they leaned on I.T. Solutions of South Florida.

The company places an emphasis on customer education. They have found that educating end users leads to fewer problems. Additionally, the company’s status as a woman-owned business sets it apart in the I.T. industry, bringing diversity and a unique perspective to the forefront.

All of I.T. Solutions of South Florida’s offerings are included for a single price, with their all-inclusive pricing model. Their target market includes organizations that are headquartered in South Florida but with multiple locations throughout the United States. They aim for a strong corporate relationship through in-person meetings. They boast low client turnover, attributing their success to these relationships. Each client has a dedicated account manager, with weekly calls. They recently held a wine event for their clients to get together.

The company prides itself on its proactive approach, ensuring that clients’ technological needs are met before issues arise. This strategy has not only fostered a loyal customer base but also garnered significant accolades, including Pizzo being featured on the South Florida Business Journal’s Top 25 Influential Business Women list. The company’s culture is another cornerstone of its success. Recognized as one of the South Florida Business Journal’s Best Places to Work, I.T. Solutions of South Florida understands that satisfied employees lead to satisfied customers.

I.T. Solutions of South Florida has a team of 20 dedicated professionals, serving almost 50 clients with 2,500 end users. The company is expanding its services to include a new division focused on Governance, Risk Management and Compliance (GRC). This addition is particularly timely, as businesses increasingly seek to navigate the complex landscape of government regulations and compliance standards. The new GRC division will assist clients by conducting audits and helping them develop internal policies tailored to their specific needs, particularly in the area of cyber insurance.

For more information about I.T. Solutions of South Florida and its services, visit I.T. Solutions of South Florida.

1 2 3
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Driving South Florida’s Tech Landscape: Michael Fowler’s Journey Through Tech and Leadership
Florida Atlantic’s Tech Runway announced its 13th cohort companies
Palm Beach County startup TurboDocx announces successful pre-seed funding round
Gary Vaynerchuk is coming to West Palm Beach as keynote for PBSC Foundation STEAM luncheon
FPL announces completion of Florida’s first ever clean hydrogen hub of its kind
FAU Adams Center Director Wins Best Paper at National Conference
JA Inspire 2024 inspires middle school students in Palm Beach County
Tech is a Hot Topic at Capital Analytics fifth anniversary of Invest: Palm Beach
DSS Wins Third Place in the precisionFDA Veterans Cardiac Health and AI Model Predictions Challenge
2000 Students Attend the Annual ‘Claim Your Future Showcase’ in Palm Beach and Broward Counties
Research Park at Florida Atlantic Elects 2024 Officers; Vote Marks First Time an FAU President is Chair Since 1985
Two Decades of Empowering Clients: The I.T. Solutions of South Florida Journey