South Florida Tech HubSouth Florida Tech Hub

By Nikki Cabus

Seasoned Business and Technology Attorney Karina DuQuesne Joins Caldera Law as Partner

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Caldera Law is proud to welcome Karina DuQuesne as a partner and practice leader for the firm’s new Technology & Innovation Practice.

Caldera Law is a forward-thinking, full-service boutique law firm based in the Little River neighborhood of Miami. Representing corporate clients, top restaurants, chefs, entertainers, and entrepreneurs and serving international clients in Latin America and Europe, the firm brings a client-focused, common-sense approach to its Corporate, Real Estate, Litigation, Intellectual Property, Hospitality, Sports & Entertainment, and Technology & Innovation practice.

With an impressive background as an attorney, executive, investor, and entrepreneur, Karina DuQuesne has a track record of providing exceptional legal counsel at the intersection of business, law, and technology.

At Caldera Law, DuQuesne specializes in representing high-growth and early-stage companies and their investors in connection with the full lifecycle of their investments. Highly experienced in representing both issuers and investors in the financing of private companies, she also assists both buyers and sellers in mergers and acquisitions. DuQuesne has extensive experience representing clients outside the US, including emerging companies and venture capital funds operating in Europe and Latin America.

“We are thrilled to have Karina join our team as partner,” said Ben Wolkov, Managing Partner at Caldera Law. “Her depth of experience and leadership will help the firm as we provide startups and early-stage companies with strategic outside general counsel services that drive growth and protect their interests at each step of their journey.”

Her unique background allows her to provide practical and forward-thinking guidance to founders and investors alike. DuQuesne is also the founder of Valia Partners, an AI-powered advisory firm servicing high-growth companies and startups in the realms of legal, operations, and human resources.

“The deep expertise and breadth of experience at the firm is ideal for serving the unique needs of emerging technology companies,” said DuQuesne. “I’m excited to help lead strategic growth at the firm in this area, to ensure our clients can focus on their own growth and innovation.”

Prior to joining Caldera Law, DuQuesne held key roles at prominent law firms such as Arnstein & Lehr (now Saul Ewing LLP) and DLA Piper LLP, where she was involved in supporting high-growth technology companies through the Nest Program. Additionally, she served as General Counsel and Chief People Officer at Mi9 Retail, ThryveAI (a division of Mi9Retail), and Ironhack, where she played pivotal roles in legal and operational restructuring, mergers, and international expansion efforts.

Outside of her legal and business endeavors, DuQuesne is deeply committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in the technology industry. She has been a leading advocate for the Women in Tech movement in Miami, establishing initiatives to address the gender gap and participating in speaking engagements to champion women in the workplace. Her dedication to this cause is further underscored by her involvement in organizations such as the Women’s Fund of Miami-Dade County and her fellowship in the inaugural MDFAWL Leadership Academy.

DuQuesne earned herJuris Doctor and Certificate in Dispute Resolution from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City, and a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a member of the Cuba Study Group, has been recognized by The Daily Business Review as Counsel on the Rise, and is a recipient of the Attorney Ad Litem Award for Lawyers for Children America. Additionally, DuQuesne is an active angel investor, further demonstrating her commitment to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship.

To learn more about Caldera Law, visit www.caldera.law

By Nikki Cabus

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

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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

Things To Do: Top 10 events during Miami Art Week that showcase tech in South Florida

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As Miami Art Week takes over the city, South Florida’s technology enthusiasts search for the best happenings in town that combine both technology and the arts and culture worlds.

According to the official Miami Art Week website, “Each year during Miami Art Week, Miami and Miami Beach are the center of the art world and host over 20 art fairs, over 1,200 galleries and thousands of artists and art lovers.” The mission of the organization is to promote and support artists, galleries and arts organizations providing access and the chance to be discovered. With the tech and art worlds colliding, new opportunities arise for both communities looking to collaborate and learn from each other.

We searched through tons of events for you all happening December 3rd – 10th and chose the top 10 just for you.

1. December 4 @ 7:30 PM: Miami MoCAAD Soul Basel Kickoff – “This Life: Black Life in the Time of Now” (FREE)

The Miami Museum of Contemporary Art of the African Diaspora will celebrate the documentary and digital exhibition “This Life: Black Life in the Time of Now.”  Through augmented and virtual reality experiences,  live performances, film Screening and a virtual museum showcase, the exhibition will will showcase black life in today’s world. The event will also feature a panel titled “Creative Conversation: Exploring the Vision.” The free event can be attended virtually or in person. More info here

2. December 5 @ 1:00 PM: Art + Tech Summit – Bringing Together Creators, Collectors and Industry Leaders

The Art+Tech Summit is a one-day event that explores the role and impact of emerging technologies in the art, entertainment, and consumer sectors. A meet and greet will take place at noon just prior to the event. The Art + Tech Summit will then feature speakers, conversation and a VIP mixer. The event will be held in the Arts & Entertainment District, but you must apply to attend. Details on the exact location will be revealed upon approval. More info here.

3. December 5 @ 4:00 PM: The Future is Immersive : A Fusion of Art, Tech, and Visionaries featuring “Meet the Drapers” 

Proudly presented by industry leaders, this exclusive gathering promises an immersive blend of technology, innovation, art, and unparalleled networking opportunities. VIP passes allow you the opportunity to rub shoulders with industry influencers and visionaries in the realms of technology, art, and finance. The event holds a special connection to “The Drapers,” adding an extra layer of excitement to an already extraordinary evening. Don’t miss out on this unique convergence of technology and creativity. More info here.

4. December 5 @ 7:00 PM: Miami Tech + Startups Party 

Join the special edition of Miami Tech + Startups as they invite special guest speaker Maja Vujinovic, Managing Director & Investor in FinTech & Digital Assets @ OGroup, to join the conversation. Maja focused on investments and scale of technology tools such as AI and blockchain and bridging a gap between legacy systems and web 3 tools. OGroup is also partnered with number of family offices helping them navigate emerging tech, acquisitions and implementation of generative AI and smart contracts. Tech, Drinks, and Startups in Brickell. The event’s goal is to be a catalyst, a way for you to meet fun and interesting people in Miami’s Tech Scene. More info here.

5. December 6 – 10: Code/Art’s The Student Digital Art Exhibit 

Held at the Context Art Miami, the Student Digital Art Exhibit is a culmination of months of hard work and dedication by Code/Art students who competed in the CodeYourSelf™ competition (through various years). The pieces on display showcase their innovative use of computer programming to express their artistic visions, and we believe you will be captivated by the depth and creativity of their work. Exhibiting hours are from Wednesday-Saturday, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. More info here.

6. December 6 @ 6:00 PM: Miami Tech Together with Microsoft (FREE)

Held at the Miami College Idea Center, this Microsoft Art Basel event for nonprofits will explore how technology, art, and philanthropy can work together to empower your organization. Take part in a showcase of Microsoft’s tools and resources designed to empower nonprofits, an innovative networking experience with Tech Together Networking Station, the “Yeah Art Installation,” featuring thought-provoking works like “It Was All a Dream” & “Dream City”,” and a compelling panel discussion on “The Future of Digital Philanthropy,” where tech meets art and altruism. More info here.

7. December 7 & 8: Digital Art Collectors Preview by BlackDove (FREE)

This 2-day digital art event will be held in the Miami Art District. Meet the top artists, collectors, and curators during Art Week Miami at this dedicated digital art event. The events kicks off with an Artist Breakfast and closes out with a “Digital Canvas Technologies Deep Dive” where industry experts will dissect state-of-the-art software, pioneering hardware, and emerging trends. From speakers, panels, and talks around generative art, digital art, and even art in commercial and healthcare spaces, this event has something for everyone. More info here.

 8. December 7 @ 5:00 PM: Canvas and Capital: Interactive Investor Dinner

Hosted by BLCK VC and in partnership with Silicon Valley Bank, this extraordinary evening of immersive experiences and meaningful connections will be held as an exclusive salon-style dinner. Amidst the artistic ambiance of Miami Art Basel, prepare to indulge your senses in an interactive art installation and groove to the beats of a talented DJ during dinner. Spaces are limited, and applying to this event does not guarantee your spot. More info here.

9. December 8 @ 4:00 PM: TFAPOPUP MIAMI 2023: Art x Innovation Day

Get ready to immerse yourself in a day of creativity, inspiration, and artistry that you won’t find anywhere else. TFAPOPUP Miami 2023 transcends traditional art exhibitions. It’s a vibrant celebration of artistic expression and a platform for emerging talents. At its core lies the TFA Young Curators Program, empowering emerging artists from around the world with the art of business and creative placemaking. Featuring gallery hours from 4pm-12 am and panel discussion on “The Ethics & Social Implications of AI-Generated Art” at 5:30 pm, this evet promises to be transformative and inclusive. More info here.

10. December 10 @ 2:00 PM: Vibration Revelation – Guided VR Art Meditation Experience

Embark on an immersive guided VR meditation art experience and awaken your imagination. Flow through mystical realms inspired by nature’s wisdom, offering an illuminated inner journey of revelations, as you reconnect with the boundless magic of existence. Alissa Christine, a pioneer in virtual reality art, and author of “i love miami 365,” photo documentary of gratitude, merges wellness with new media. Alissa creates immersive meditative story-telling experiences inside her illuminated 3D VR paintings, complimenting her Healing Arts practices for over 15 years. With a two-decade art career, her work has graced global galleries, including VR/AR Cryptoart Metaverses, local exhibitions during Art Basel Miami, and she’s contributed to magazines like Ocean Drive’s Art Basel Mag. More info here.

 

Is there an amazing Art + Tech Week event that you think we missed? Submit your event here.

By Nikki Cabus

Mark Cuban & Anthropocene Ventures Back Climate-Tech Startup, Kind Designs

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Renowned entrepreneur and investor Mark Cuban, alongside early stage climate tech VC firm Anthropocene Ventures, has joined Kind Designs’ seed round.

The investment marks a significant milestone for the female-founded climate and construction tech startup, which has experienced exponential growth since its launch in June 2023. The new capital enables Kind Designs to triple production capacity and expand its team to meet explosive demand for its Living Seawalls™.

Major coastal cities in the United States, including Miami, New York City, and San Francisco, are at imminent risk from rising sea-levels with local and federal government agencies expecting to spend nearly $400B in seawall construction efforts.

According to FloodList.com, the study, titled High Tide Tax: The Price to Protect Coastal Communities from Rising Seas, reveals that “Florida will be by far the most heavily impacted state in such events, with projected costs of over $70 billion across the state, with 23 counties facing at least $1 billion in seawall expenses alone.”

As a result, the United States could be on track to destroy over 50,000 miles of marine habitat by 2040.

Kind Designs addresses this concern.  The company is a climate-tech startup addressing rising sea-levels by revolutionizing the outdated and traditionally toxic seawall construction industry. Through its use of sustainable materials, and patent-pending 3D printing technology, Kind Designs is producing the world’s first 3D-printed Living Seawalls™️. The Living Seawalls protect coastal communities from floods and storm surges, while creating marine habitats, sequestering carbon and collecting essential water quality data.

Unlike traditional seawalls, which are typically flat, Living Seawalls incorporate biomimicry design principles and function as artificial reefs. The Living Seawalls also sequester carbon and collect essential water data. Kind’s innovative approach to seawall construction cuts production time by 95% and has zero green premium, making it both a sustainable and economical solution to at-risk communities.

“The investment decision was swift and resolute,” comments Anthropocene Ventures’ Managing Partner, Matthew McGraw.

Anthropocene Ventures is a global, early-stage VC firm investing in founders that leverage exponential technologies & hard science to make humanity more resilient. Kind Designs was the perfect for for the VC firm.

“Kind Designs surpasses our criteria with its immediate real-world application, clear business model, path to revenue, and the merging of nature’s smarts through biomimicry with 3D printing technology. Yet, what truly solidified our commitment is the performance of the founder, Anya. In a brief span, she has demonstrated exceptional execution.”

Earlier this summer, The Florida Venture Forum and co-host, Space Florida, hosted the 2023 Aerospace + EmergingTech Forum awarding over $200,000 in cash and VC investment. Kind Designs won first place taking home $40,000. In addition to the cash prizes awarded, DeepWork Capital, an early-stage venture capital firm based in Orlando, announced they will invest $100,000 in Kind Designs.

Soon after, GOVO Venture Partners, along with M4 Investing and the Florida Opportunity Fund, announced the decision to co-lead the $5M seed investment round in Miami-based Kind Designs.

In under five months, Kind Designs launched its warehouse, became fully operational and achieved revenue by starting to deliver the first Living Seawall panels in November 2023. The company plans to triple its production capacity by February 2024, with its recent purchase of two additional printing robots, showcasing the widespread demand for its pioneering products.

This month, Kind Designs also reached a workforce milestone, hiring its tenth full-time employee, a testament to its commitment to creating meaningful job opportunities in tech and fostering local talent in Miami. Other hires joining Kind’s founder and CEO, Anya Freeman, include Leandro Fernandez as Lead Structural Engineer and Jeremy Morris as Chief Operating Officer. Morris previously held roles at The Boring Company and Icon.

“Having investors with a global reach, like Mark Cuban and Anthro Ventures on our team is a huge vote of confidence in our mission to regenerate marine ecosystems and protect coastal communities,” shared Anya Freeman, Kind Designs’ Founder and CEO.

“With their strategic backing, we are positioned to propel Kind Designs into a massive global business, while simultaneously making an immense environmental impact. Together, we’re putting economical and environmentally beneficial coastal resilience on the map.”

Looking ahead, Kind Designs plans to further disrupt the coastal construction industry by working with government agencies to offer Living Seawall tax incentives on the county, state and federal levels. This program will be similar to incentives already in place such as solar energy and EV tax credits. Kind Designs’ Living Seawalls check several boxes by merging the structural integrity of traditional seawalls with a sustainable design that nurtures marine life and is more cost effective for coastal communities.

As Kind Designs continues to grow and innovate, this strategic investment will play a pivotal role in advancing its mission to protect coastal communities and marine life globally. Mark Cuban and Anthropocene Ventures join an impressive list of supporters within Kind Design’s $5M seed round.

To learn more about Kind Designs, visit https://www.kinddesigns.com/

By Nikki Cabus

Successful Ft. Lauderdale-based Enhance Health acquires local JET Health Solutions

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JET Health Solutions, the sister company of Ft. Lauderdale-based OZ Digital, recently announced they were acquired by Enhance Health. 

Established in 1997, JET Health Solutions is the healthcare product division of IT systems integrator and consulting firm OZ Digital Consulting. The company is a premier Enhanced Direct Enrollment (EDE) platform and has been equipping healthcare payers and providers with the technology tools they need to surge ahead of the competition in a rapidly changing healthcare marketplace such as break-through automation systems for both payers and providers that boost productivity, improve operational efficiencies, accelerate sales, and bolster the bottom line.

Enhance Health is a digital health insurance brokerage and care navigation platform. The acquisition reinforces Enhance Health’s commitment to serving its members and scaling its operations effectively through technology. Enhance Health was founded in 2021 by industry veteran Matt Herman and backed by Bain Capital Insurance and has experienced rapid growth due to the record number of Americans enrolling in ACA health plans in 2022. Enhance Health has grown its membership base to hundreds of thousands, and is rapidly expanding into other insurance business lines.

Enhance Health has gained much visibility through recent partnerships such as NASCAR, Floyd Mayweather Jr., and the recent official partnership agreement with the Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium.  The multi-year partnership provides wide-spread visibility for the rapidly growing insurance organization between two offices in the Fort Lauderdale area.

“Enhance Health is committed to helping as many people as possible in South Florida access quality healthcare through great health insurance, often at little or no cost. The partnership with the Miami Dolphins will help us spread the word and ultimately get more people covered, given the team’s widespread popularity and dedicated fan base,” said Matthew Herman, CEO and President of Enhance Health.

“We are thrilled to announce the acquisition of JET Health Solutions. Since Enhance’s founding, we’ve been committed to leveraging technology in new ways to simplify the enrollment process. JET’s advanced EDE platform improves our already best-in-class member and agent experience.”

JET Health Solutions’ flagship product, JET Insure is the enterprise-class online private exchange and marketplace quote-to-card insurance automation platform that empowers health plans to sell multiple lines-of-business — individual/family ACA (on/off-exchange), small group, large group, fully/self/level-funded and specialty products — faster and more profitably, all on a single system leveraging all sales channels including brokers and direct to consumer sales. JET Insure is a single platform for all your insurance products sales, and policy management needs.

With hundreds of thousands of members enrolled in Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans as well as Medicare Advantage plans, Enhance Health has established itself as a trusted partner in the healthcare industry. The acquisition of JET empowers Enhance Health to fully own the enrollment process, enhancing its capabilities and expanding its services with one of the few CMS-certified Phase 3 EDEs available in the market.

“Joining forces with Enhance Health is an exciting opportunity to drive meaningful change in the healthcare industry,” said Asad Shamim, Founder and Managing Partner of JET Health Solutions. “Together, we are well-positioned to revolutionize the enrollment process and improve healthcare access for individuals and families across the nation.”

With partners such as Microsoft, Xamarin, Mulesoft, and IBM, JET Health has successfully equipped healthcare payers and providers with cutting-edge tools to excel in the ever-evolving healthcare marketplace.

“Integrating an EDE into our technology stack solidifies Enhance as the leader in the digital health insurance space,” said Jeff Tang, CIO of Enhance Health. “Fully integrated with our CRM and other agent systems, this platform will fundamentally change the way we interact with our members through streamlined agent workflows, actionable data, and enhanced data security.”

By Nikki Cabus

FAU Tech Runway announces the 16 startups of cohort 12

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

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

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

The 16 companies in Venture Class 12 are:

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

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

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

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

By Adam Elitzur

18th annual SoFlo DevCon brings together developers, designers, tech professionals and educators

Read Time 7 Minutes

Just last month during #SoFloTechMonth, South Florida’s month-long celebration of all things tech and innovation across the region, South Florida Tech Hub hosted its 18th annual SoFlo DevCon once again bringing hundreds in attendance for the event.

Held at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, the location was a perfect place to bring together those from Miami, Broward, Palm Beach, Martin County and even a few from the west coast of the state. In attendance were software developers, designers, engineers, tech professionals and event school district teachers and college professors from across South Florida.

The event is the only fully regional tech education event FREE and open to the public with classes and sessions running all day long that are completely geared towards STEM and innovation. The event was free to attend, thanks to the support of community partners and sponsors such as this year’s Presenting Sponsor, Cognizant.

The day kicked off with breakfast (sponsored by FAU’s College of Engineering) and 8:30 AM sessions. The first 300 guests through the door were also given a free conference t-shirt (sponsored by Streann Media), and a pizza party lunch was provided for all attendees sponsored by CITY Furniture.

This year’s event featured a Leadership Track and Leadership Lunch in collaboration with Cognizant, CITY Furniture and SIM South Florida. Jeffrey Richman, Customer Relationship Manager and Kishore Dandu, Client Partner of Energy & Utilities at Cognizant addressed the audience as Presenting Sponsor. Kishore spoke about the importance of events such as SoFlo DevCon in the tech community and how proud they are to give back to a local organization helping build the local tech talent. With hundreds of thousands of employees across the globe, Cognizant employs many technical and sales people in the South Florida region. As tech in South Florida continues to blossom, they are happy to be a contributing part of the ecosystem.

Rebecca Bakels, Software Engineer and Tech Community Advocate at CITY Furniture, highlighted that CITY Furniture is more than just a furniture company. CITY Furniture employs hundreds of people in technology and is using all sorts of innovative tech such as AR, data science, and app development all in-house to ensure the best customer experience. CITY Furniture also gives back thousands of dollars towards local community programs and nonprofits each year.

Rebecca is a benefactor of local tech initiatives and the South Florida Tech Hub community. As she began her journey into tech in 2020, she connected with South Florida Tech Hub, completed Software Engineering course with Boca Code, became an intern at CITY Furniture and then was offered a full time role to continue with the company. Rebecca is now involved with many nonprofit organizations and initiatives in the tech space in the region.

Each year, the conference attracts almost 1000 attendees and over 100 speakers, sponsors and exhibitors. The event featured 6 time slots for workshops and 12 seperate tracks to choose from such as mobile/web development, professional development, entrepreneurship, AI/ML, blockchain & web3, UI/UX, and more. These tracks included a range of topics and workshops, including Machine Learning, AI, VR/AR/MR, IoT, .NET, DevOps, MVC Framework, JavaScript, JQuery, SQL Server, Business Intelligence, Software Testing, Xamarin/Mobile Development, Azure/Cloud, Business/Career Development.

  • In the Web Development track, Todd Albert, Lead Instructor and Founder at Boca Code remarked, “This year, we added several code-along workshops to our lineup, including Next.JS and ChatGPT by Jonathan Sanchez, building a game in Unity with SoFlo DevCon’s youngest speaker, 19-year-old Idan Fischer, and my talk where we live-coded a mobile app in React-Native. Each year, the conference seems to be more energetic and attended by more people. It’s always a great place to expand our knowledge and our networks.”
  • In the AI/ML track, Founder of Indulgent Gifts and Thrivve Group, Roberta Barbosa, and US Managing Director of Exo Mindset, Bruno Savoca Albors, spoke. Barbosa presented the workshop Intro to Intelligent RPA. The workshop covered “the fundamentals of intelligent process automation and how it is helping businesses become more efficient and increase employee engagement. It also shared the RPA leaders in the industry, the tools available on the market, and the most common use cases.” Albors delivered a talk on the evolution of AI and ML, tracing its journey from early beginnings to the present day. He highlighted key milestones, including the emergence of machine learning as a subfield of AI, the rise of neural networks and deep learning, and the transformative impact of the digital age on AI and ML. Albors showcased modern applications across industries such as healthcare and finance and addressed ethical considerations and challenges, including bias and privacy. In conclusion, he provided a future outlook for AI and ML, emphasizing their significance in solving complex problems and shaping the future of technology.
  • In the Web Development track, Todd Albert, Lead Instructor and Founder at Boca Code remarked, “This year, we added several code-along workshops to our lineup, including Next.JS and ChatGPT by Jonathan Sanchez, building a game in Unity with SoFlo DevCon’s youngest speaker, 19-year-old Idan Fischer, and my talk where we live-coded a mobile app in React-Native. Each year, the conference seems to be more energetic and attended by more people. It’s always a great place to expand our knowledge and our networks.”
  • In the blockchain track, ApparelMagic CEO and cryptocurrency veteran Brandon Ginsberg, and Azure Migrate & Modernize Lead at Microsoft and Co-Founder of Nebulai, Renatto Garro were two of the presenters. Ginsberg spoke about recent developments in the Ethereum ecosystem, including The Merge, Shanghai updates, and ERC-4337. His talk highlighted the importance of these updates in enhancing Ethereum’s scalability, security, and efficiency, and their potential implications for decentralized applications and the broader cryptocurrency landscape. Garro led the workshop Unlock the Power of Decentralized Identities. “Decentralized Identities promise to change the way we use the Internet giving us more control, security, and the ability to monetize our data,” Garro stated. “We discussed about solutions from Microsoft like Entra and PolygonID, among others. It is truly inspiring what developers can start building with this technology.”
  • In the AR/VR track, Principal engineer at Microsoft for Mixed Reality, Denise Mendez, Head of Emerging Tech & Innovation Division at PeakActivity, Rob Petrosino, and Harshal Sanghvi, Doctoral Candidate at Florida Atlantic University and Research and Development Specialist at Advanced Research LLC, presented workshops. Mendez talked about the scale of the XR industry, its value in the South Florida economy, and well as how to get started building cross-platform XR experiences in Unity. Petrosino spoke about AI & its impact on 3D, AR & XR. “Generative AI has changed how most organizations and teams will approach visualizing information, floor plans and their standard operating procedures without additional technical teams.” Sanghvi discussed the impacts of AI & AR on Medical Interventions and Imaging as diagnosing and treatment methods.
  • In the Leadership track, Founder of B-Grade Media and Technology Advisor at Leafplanner, Q. Wade Billings led the session on “How to engineer a thriving engineering culture”. “In 2019, I had the opportunity to build an engineering culture from scratch, which is more complicated than it might sound,” Billings remarked. “To help my team and me in the effort, we designed a framework called the “Cultural Development Lifecycle (CDLC)” modeled after the well-known Software Development Lifecycle. This framework enabled us to conceive of, plan, develop, test, and measure our thriving engineering culture. My sincere hope and goal are that presenting the CDLC at SoFlo DevCon will inspire others to think about culture in a new and exciting light.”
  • In the Entrepreneurship track, was a session, “Practical Steps to Turn Your Idea Into a Revenue Generating Business”, Managing Partner at Argent Strategies and CSO of Doxci, Aaron Chavez, covered everything from ideation to product development to early-stage scaling activities. His talk emphasized the significance of proper solution validation, as well as a heavy focus on non-capital-intensive activities that are accessible to all founders. During his talk, he stressed the significance of South Florida’s idea-rich founder economy and the need for said founders to progress by taking practical and cost-effective steps to move their ventures forward.

One of the unique aspects of SoFlo DevCon is that it is open to anyone interested in the tech and innovation community in South Florida. Attendees did not need to be developers to participate in the conference. Designers, project managers, creatives, entrepreneurs, founders, and anyone connected to the tech industry were all welcome to attend.

Software engineer and game developer presented the workshop ‘Unleashing Your Creativity: Unity game development.’ “Participants learned how to create a game where the player collects coins while avoiding obstacles,” Fischer explained.

“We went through the process of making a game, from making game objects to making scripts to control our objects. Overall, speaking at SoFlo Devcon was an amazing experience, especially for my first time speaking anywhere and first time at SoFlo Devcon. Thank you to everyone who came!”

Idan was also voted the audience favorite receiving the Scott Katarincic Speaker Award, in remembrance of Scott who recently passed this year. He was a major part of planning past SoFlo DevCon events and working with all the speakers to ensure a successful event. It was only fitting that our youngest speaker ever at only 19 years old received the award and on his birthday, no less! The award was presented to Idan by Naomi Gayz, Scott’s girlfriend, and Annette Katarancic, Scott’s mother.

SoFlo DevCon 2023 was a huge success, bringing together the South Florida tech community and providing a platform for learning, networking, and collaboration. The day ended with an after-party happy hour and karaoke!

South Florida Tech Hub’s Dev Con 2023 was made possible because of its sponsors: Presenting Sponsor, Cognizant, T-shirts, Streann Media, City Furniture provided lunch and Telerik by Progress sponsored ASL interpretation. Thanks to the supporting sponsors, including Florida Atlantic University, OZ Digital Consulting, NRG Way, Boca Code, SIM, Algorand, Agile Infoways, Total Wine & More, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft TEALS Program, Code Magazine, FPL, Office Depot, Carrier, Modernizing Medicine, Florida Crystals, Social Mobile, Verizon, and Dedicated IT, for their contributions to the event.

See more photos here.

By Nikki Cabus

New to the county and Ingram Micro already awarded the ‘Key’ to Miami-Dade

Read Time 2 Minutes

Last week, Ingram Micro was awarded the ‘key’ to Miami-Dade County for their commitment to the expansion of their Ingram Micro Cloud office in South Florida and rapid hiring of incredible tech talent.

At Ingram Micro Cloud helps resellers and partners transform their business so they get up and running with Cloud in minutes, with little to no investment, deliver bundled services, up-sell and cross sell and manage their infrastructure most efficiently. Ingram Micro Cloud offers security, business apps, cloud services, communication/collaboration and infrastructure solutions to help clients monetize and manage the entire lifecycle of cloud services, infrastructure, and IoT subscriptions, so they can simplify digital transformation with confidence, speed and agility.

Ingram Micro is proud and honored to receive this award,” stated Greg Onoprijenko, Director of Cloud Sales, U.S. Miami is a hidden gem for tech talent in the US, and we’re thrilled to be able to provide amazing career opportunities to these skilled and ambitious business professionals.”

He proudly continued, “Furthermore, a key reason we chose Miami for business expansion was because of its diverse multiculturalism, which nicely reflects Ingram Micro’s values and aspirations.”

Greg is a recent South Florida transplant himself.

In April of 2016, Greg began his role as Director of Cloud, Canada with Ingram Micro, where he led all aspects of the cloud business for the organization in the Canadian market, including sales and marketing, vendor management, and strategy. In 2021, Greg joined CloudBlue, Ingram Micro’s cloud platform division, as its Director of Sales for North America. Onoprijenko has become an expert in the MSP/IT and cloud space.

In an interview just earlier this month, Onoprijenko shared that due to the increased demand in cloud services, Ingram Micro Cloud has experience significant growth and he is betting on South Florida. He believes this region is a best kept secret – that’s not so secret anymore.

Having just opened their Miami office in Q4 of 2021, the Ingram Micro Cloud office of South Florida has already surpassed 100+ employees and has no plans to slow down any time soon.

To learn more about Ingram Micro Cloud, visit https://ingrammicrocloud.com/

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New to the county and Ingram Micro already awarded the ‘Key’ to Miami-Dade