6+ things to know in #MiamiTech: Miami-Dade County’s climate hub plans, plus news from EzPag, Bird, Seaworthy Collective, AtWave, Ryder, PayCargo and more


Miami-Dade seeking federal dollars to develop climatetech hub

Miami-Dade County is seeking federal funding to transform the region into a national tech hub for climate and sustainability, the South Florida Business Journal reported.

The county submitted an application to the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Tech Hubs Program, an economic development initiative enacted as part of the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022. The EDA will award $15 million in strategy development grants to 20 designated Tech Hubs to signal those areas have potential for rapid economic growth.

“South Florida’s journey toward resilience must be marked by a collaborative approach to build a strong, sustainable, and future-ready Miami-Dade County,” Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told the Journal.

Some interesting nuggets from the application: Over the past five years, South Florida produced 2% of all U.S. patents in climate technology, and also during those five years, climate-related academic research and development in the area increased 10% per year. 

This fall, the county will find out if it was selected. If chosen as one of the 20 Tech Hubs, it will be eligible to apply for phase 2, and potentially qualify for additional awards from the EDA. Partners in the effort include the Miami-Dade Beacon Council, Citadel Founder and CEO Ken Griffin, Florida Power and Light, Watsco, MasTech, the South Florida Regional Planning Council and universities and colleges in Miami-Dade.

If for some reason the county is not selected, the work will continue, the county has said. The game plan outlined in the application will become their playbook.

Read more in the Business Journal here.


Miami-based EzPag bags $10M in debt financing

EzPag, a Miami -based provider of lease-to-own financing for the latest cell phones, raised $10M in debt funding. The backers were not disclosed.

The company intends to use the funds to fund its growth and acquire inventory to lease to their customers.

Founded in January 2023 by Matheus Freire and Lucas Paiva, EzPag provides lease-to-own financing for the latest cell phones, offering a wide range of flexible payment options and price points to meet every need. The company was born with the mission of facilitating access to iPhones and other electronic devices to immigrants in the USA. It began testing its services in January and made their first sale in April of 2023.

“This achievement underscores our unwavering commitment to leveling the financial playing field for immigrants who aspire to build brighter futures in their new country. With this substantial capital infusion, we are poised to expand our reach, enhance our services, and empower even more individuals with access to fair and affordable credit,” said Freire, EzPag’s CEO, in a statement.


Miami-based Bird acquires Spin for $19M

Bird Global, a Miami -based environmentally friendly electric transportation company, acquired Skinny Labs (doing business as Spin), a San Francisco-based shared electric bike and scooter operator, from Tier Mobility. The purchase price was

 $19 million.

“Spin is a great financial and strategic acquisition for Bird and we expect this acquisition will enable us to achieve long term sustainable profitability,” said Michael Washinushi, Bird Interim CEO. “Bird and Spin have many strategic synergies, which we believe will have an immediate impact in the third quarter.”

For the 12 months ended June 30, 2023, Spin delivered approximately $45 million in net revenue, bringing the combined net revenue for Bird and Spin to approximately $265 million for that period. The transaction is expected to have upwards of $20 million in synergies and be immediately accretive to earnings for Bird, due in part to recent operational restructuring, Bird said..

Uodate: Bird said on Friday that its stock is being delisted from the New York Stock Exchange because of its inability to lift its market cap to $15 million. The scooter company was once valued at $2.5 billion by private investors.


Seaworthy Collective receives SBA funding for blue tech R&D

This week, Seaworthy Collective announced the organization was awarded $150,000 by the U.S. Small Business Administration to fund its research and development efforts in the ocean sustainability space.

It was among 35 accelerator programs or partnerships among the SBA’s 2023 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition Stage Two winners. Each winner will receive $150,000 to help fund investment in innovative startups and high-growth small businesses in priority areas such as domestic manufacturing and production, underserved communities, national security and global competitiveness, and climate and renewable energy.

Seaworthy, an incubator and community organization devoted to scaling restorative ocean and maritime startups, also received a $50,000 grant from tier one earlier this year. Read more in the South Florida Business Journal.


New York tech firm AtWave opens on Ocean Drive

Email marketing firm Atwave says it is the first tech company to open an office on Ocean Drive.

The company, founded in New York, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday to christen its new offices at 804 Ocean Drive, in between the News Cafe and the shuttered Larios on the Beach, Axios Miami reported.  The opening follows efforts to recast South Beach’s reputation as a party-all-night destination into more of a “live-work-play” vibe.

“As residents of Miami Beach, we want Atwave to be at the forefront of making Ocean Drive into the hottest and newest place for the tech and business scene — not just in Miami, but Florida and the country at large,” founder and CEO Amanda Coleman said in a statement. Read more on Axios here.


More news to note from Ryder and PayCargo

  • MAKING EV MOVES: Miami-based Ryder System, a leader in supply chain, dedicated transportation, and fleet management solutions, announces the deployment of its first BrightDrop Zevo 600 electric vans at four strategic Ryder facilities in California, Texas, and New York. The introduction of BrightDrop’s electric vans within Ryder’s rental fleet marks an important step in the company’s ongoing efforts to meet the rising demand and adoption of commercial electric vehicles (EVs) in the United States. Earlier this year, Ryder announced plans to introduce 4,000 BrightDrop electric vans to its fleet through 2025, with the first 200 ordered this year. The BrightDrop Zevo 600 electric van boasts a range of up to 250 miles and can support a payload of 1,460 to 2,450 lbs. With a cargo capacity of 615 cubic feet, BrightDrop’s electric light commercial van offers the benefits of an electric powertrain with ample cargo space.
  • EDUCATION GIFT: Freight payment platform PayCargo has awarded Florida International University’s College of Business a $1.25 million gift to create the PayCargo Supply Chain and Logistics Program. Founded in 2005 in Coral Gables, PayCargo’s cloud-based technology enables virtual payments for air and ocean carriers, maritime ports, ground handlers, freight forwarders and customs brokers, resulting in quicker cargo release for businesses.


Opportunity knocks

  • The Miami-Dade Innovation Authority is seeking applications from early to growth stage startups for its first Public Innovation Challenge. Startups with novel and sustainable solutions for repurposing sargassum seaweed are encouraged to apply by Sept. 29.  Find out more here.
  • Dreaming of a tech career? Check out these scholarship opportunities offered by BITE-CON and 4Geeks Academy for Full Stack Developer and/or Data Science and Machine Learning bootcamps. Apply on BITE-CON website here.
  • The Venture Miami Scholarship Fund provides tuition support to provide gap funding for at-need City of Miami residents who have been accepted into STEM or defined-demand occupation programs at participating colleges and universities, including Florida International University, Florida Memorial University, Miami Dade College, and the University of Miami. How to apply: Students who meet the program requirements and are interested in applying to the Venture Miami scholarship are encourage to complete this survey to begin the application process.
  • The Alan B. Levan/NSU Broward Center of Innovation is accepting applications for the 100 Startup Project. Applicants who are accepted will receive a yearlong membership to the Levan Center of Innovation. Apply here.


Got news? Email Nancy Dahlberg at [email protected] and follow her on X @ndahlberg and LinkedIN.

Nancy Dahlberg