Irma Becerrafernandez Fosters Entrepreneurship At Fiu With First Twoday Americas Venture Capital Conference
The days when "you could kick around an idea and have a concept and get some chunk of money to get it going are gone," says Irma Becerra-Fernandez, director of Florida International University’s Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center.
Her career has taken her from Florida Power & Light Co. to the knowledge management and technology transfer divisions of NASA and now to the halls of FIU.
She took the reins of the center, which seeks to show students and the greater business community the path to success in start-up ventures, about a year ago and has had her work cut out for her ever since.
Though one of her biggest challenges was ensuring the center was properly funded and sustainable during the economic downturn and severe budget squeeze, she’s managed a handful of new initiatives.
In November, FIU will host the inaugural Americas Venture Capital Conference, a two-day event that is to bring entrepreneurs and venture capitalists from across the hemisphere together to learn about emerging business sectors in Latin America and funding opportunities here.
The event could establish Miami as the crossroads between the many innovation centers in the US and the fast-growing economies to the south.
"I think what [investors] want to see is a one-stop shop, where [they] can find out what’s going on in Latin America, without having to track all the way from Silicon Valley, down to Buenos Aires," Ms. Becerra-Fernandez said. And in creating such a link "it creates opportunity for a whole new set of industries that locates around the bridge."
The center is looking to create a family business forum to expose students to the issues family-owned operations face as well as a venture-mentor service modeled on the one at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In the long run, though, she’s focused on creating an ecosystem, with the people, ideas, money and education, to make Miami a hotbed of innovation.
Ms. Becerra-Fernandez was interviewed in her offices at the university’s main campus by Miami Today staff writer Zachary S. Fagenson.
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