Downtown Miami Spotlighted As Future Tech Hub
By Catherine Lackner
In its ongoing quest to establish the city’s core as a hub for technological innovation, Miami’s Downtown Development Authority has hosted events for tech entrepreneurs, partnered with the University of Miami in a startup accelerator, and helped launch Incubate Miami, a support center for science and technology.But there’s more to do, the group was told at its monthly meeting last Friday.
“Downtown Miami is poised to be the next substantial hub for technology and innovation,” says a report by Techniacs, a consulting firm hired by the authority. “Competition with other cities is high and Miami must leverage its available technology assets to compete on a global platform.”
“The place for tech in South Florida is downtown Miami,” agreed Alyce Robertson, authority executive director. “We have the assets, but the tech hub is pretty fragmented. How do we create an ecosystem? Other communities have done it successfully.”
The downtown core city is the logical choice, said Nivita Verma, Techniacs founder and CEO. With the Network Access Point of the Americas, the University of Miami incubator, the Pino Entrepreneurship Center at Florida International University, and other high-tech facilities downtown, the synergy is there. Her firm prepared a thick report with recommendations and examples of what other cities have done.
In Chicago, she said, the State of Illinois contributed $2.3 million for a tech hub. In New York City, the Bloomberg administration has strongly backed the tech sector as a way of diversifying the economy away from the financial markets. With the 2008 market crash, it redoubled its efforts, the Techniacs report said.
The goal of building a “tech city” downtown — as other cities have done — may have gotten a boost from Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, said Marc Sarnoff, authority chairman and Miami city commissioner. “We met with the mayor, and he’s given a verbal commitment to $1 million over four years,” he said. “We’re looking at creating a space of not less than 50,000 square feet. Where and how is evolving by the day,” he said, declining to give more details until plans are further developed.
“The mayor is proposing to recommend that the commission budget $1 million spread over four years for this project,” said Fernando Figueredo, the county’s director of communication and external affairs. “It still needs to be approved by the county commission.” That group gets the draft budget July 15 for the fiscal year that begins October 1, he said.