6+ things to know in #MiamiTech: On.Energy secures $40M, plus news from Lucyd, Bird, Neoris, Levan Center and more


On.Energy closes $40M in financing

 On.Energy, an end-to-end integrator of battery energy storage, announced it has closed $40 million financing to build out a battery energy storage facility in Texas scheduled to come online in late 2024.

On.Energy received construction financing from Live Oak Bank to fund the development of its 80 megawatt per hour Palo Verde portfolio project that will help support the Electric Reliability Council of Texas’ power grid, the company said.

What makes this project noteworthy is its unique integration of an investment tax credit (ITC) transfer, a pioneering move in the realm of merchant battery storage. Looking forward, On.Energy, with the backing of Live Oak Bank, is poised for larger capital asset investments across the U.S. in 2024 and 2025. The credit facility follows On.Energy’s $20 million series B round led by Ultra Capital.

“On.Energy has closed a capital solution for our assets at a time when many are still trying to sort out the Inflation Reduction Act and its implications. The structure underpinning the Palo Verde Portfolio establishes On.Energy as a serious player in the ESS space with an emerging financial capability to match our renowned technical credentials,” said On.Energy CFO David Fernandes, in a statement.

READ MORE: On.Energy’s battery systems enable businesses to avoid peak energy prices


Miami Dolphin to be brand ambassador for ‘smart’ sunglasses

Miami-based Innovative Eyewear, maker of ChatGPT-enabled eyewear under the Lucyd, Nautica, Eddie Bauer and Reebok brands, has signed Miami Dolphins NFL professional football player Emmanuel Ogbah as a brand ambassador.

Ogbah is a Nigerian professional football defensive end for the Miami Dolphins after previously being drafted in the second round of the 2016 NFL draft for the Cleveland Browns. Ogbah originally gained notoriety in the U.S. playing college football at Oklahoma State.

Lucyd eyewear’s open-ear audio interface enables athletes and active users alike to enjoy music while maintaining situational awareness and protecting their eyes from the sun in one convenient product. Additionally, the company’s Lucyd app for iOS and Android incorporates on-the-go access to ChatGPT. “They’ve done an incredible job developing some of the best technology and combining it with a fashion angle that I’m extremely passionate about,” Ogbah said. 

 “As a Miami-native brand, I am thrilled to partner with one of our local all-stars. We brand all of our products as Imagined in Miami, because we are so proud of the global design and innovation hub that our hometown is becoming, said Harrison Gross, Innovative Eyewear CEO.

READ MORE: Lucyd is bringing ChatGPT right into your ears


Bird declares bankruptcy

Electric scooter rental company Bird has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

In a press release, Bird said that it had entered into a “financial restructuring process aimed at strengthening its balance sheet,” with the company continuing to operate as normal in pursuit of “long-term, sustainable growth.”

The news comes two years after the Miami-based company went public after merging with special purpose acquisition company Switchback II in a deal reportedly valued at $2.3 billion. Bird’s market cap is currently about $2.08 million. Read more in the South Florida Business Journal.


NEORIS acquires ForeFront​

Miami-based NEORIS, a leader in digital transformation capabilities, announced that it has acquired ForeFront, one of Salesforce’s top partners and an innovator in Cloud consulting and implementation services. ForeFront will become a wholly-owned U.S.-based subsidiary.

The acquisition of ForeFront aligns with NEORIS’ strategy that aims to establish broader and more global consulting capabilities to support clients in their digital transformation journeys. It is also another step toward NEORIS’ goal of accelerating its expansion plans in the U.S. market. Together, NEORIS and ForeFront will form a deeper and global consulting capability for clients adopting Salesforce solutions across manufacturing, healthcare and life sciences, telecom and more.

“This acquisition represents a significant leap forward in terms of innovation and technology,” said CEO Martin Mendez.


Miami among ‘rising star’ metros for tech job growth

For the first time, technology jobs are finally growing outside of longtime industry hubs, according to a report from the Brookings Institution. And Miami is taking a share of it.

Between 2020 and 2022, metro areas including Miami, Dallas, Denver and Salt Lake City gained the highest share of new digital employment, followed by Provo, Utah; Nashville; Houston; and Jacksonville. “Places like these — with their major universities and Sun Belt in-migration — represent the nation’s rising stars of tech,” the report said. At the same time, tech hub cities including San Francisco, San Jose, New York, LA and Boston saw their share of tech employment fall, some for the first time in decades. However, Austin continued to show a healthy gain.

According to the South Florida Business Journal, in March CompTIA’s annual “State of the Tech Workforce” reported that Florida gained 2,733 new tech businesses in 2022 alone. The state ranked fourth nationally for tech employment with a workforce of 484,593, up 4.8% year-over-year. That included 5,166 new jobs in South Florida, which came in at No. 8 in an analysis of U.S. job gains by metro area. Read more here.


Levan Center calls for applications for Accelerate cohort

After a successful Accelerate Pitch Night for its third startup cohort, the Alan B. Levan | NSU Broward Center of Innovation is looking for the next group of entrepreneurs ready to scale their startup. Accelerate 4, which will run Feb. 12 through May 3, is a free 12-week program meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 8:30am to 11:00am in person for master class-sessions.

This program is for startups that have their product or service in the marketplace, are beginning to generate revenue, and are ready to scale. Entrepreneurs will have access to free wrap-around services (marketing, HR, legal, etc.) and mentoring.

At the end of the program, the entrepreneurs will pitch to investors and others in the South Florida business community. Find our more and apply here. Deadline: Jan. 5.


Opportunity knocks

  • The Miami-Dade Innovation Authority is seeking applications for its second Public Innovation Challenge. The nonprofit will award $100,000 in funding to three early-to-growth stage startups that can improve Miami International Airport’s accessibility, navigation and sustainability. Apply here by Jan. 19.  
  • eMerge Americas opened applications for its 2024 Startup Accelerator and Showcase. Entrepreneurs have the chance to win a $520,000 investment for their venture. Joining forces with Florida Funders, Medina Ventures and BIP Ventures, eMerge will select 110 startups from across the world for a seven-week program that will culminate in a pitch competition next April. All selected startups will also receive 2 free Tech Passes and prime exhibit space at eMerge Americas. Find out more and apply here by Jan. 31.
  • The Synapse Innovation Awards  recognizes Florida’s innovators, risk-takers and creators for daring to see an opportunity to make something better, and doing it! Top finalists present at Synapse Feb. 28. Find out more and apply here by Dec. 31.
  • Apply to present at the 2024 Florida Venture Capital Conference Feb. 1-2, 2024 at the JW Marriott Marquis in Downtown Miami. The conference attracts over 700 attendees, including 200+ active venture investors. The final application deadline is Jan. 8, but early submissions are strongly encouraged. Find out more and apply 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.


We know you’ve been busy – or winding down for the holidays. Never fear, here are the stories you may have missed in the past week:

Happy holidays, everyone! Thank you for reading Refresh!

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

Do you get our free Refresh newsletter? If not, subscribe here. Job-hunting? Subscribe to our weekly Jobs newsletter here. Care to donate to support our work? Please and 🙏🙏🙏 ! Donate here.

Nancy Dahlberg