8+ things to know in #MiamiTech: News from Pavilion Solar, Yuga Labs, Eight Sleep, Orlando Bravo, 4Geeks, Palm Beach Capital, Levan Center & more


Pavilion Solar advances to Solar Prize finals; wins $100K plus support

Miami-based Pavilion Solar is one of 10 teams nationwide moving to the final phase of the American-Made Solar Prize Round 7. The U.S. Department of Energy recently announced that 10 finalist teams were each awarded $100,000 in cash and $75,000 in technical support vouchers for their innovative ideas for advancing solar deployment.

Pavilion Solar  is developing a hurricane-resistant, structurally stable, accessible, and cost-effective solar carport. This innovation will increase residential solar adoption in hurricane-prone areas by providing a product that can endure storms and growing electricity needs. 

The finalist announcement was made at the conclusion of the second phase of competition, the Set! Contest, where 20 semifinalists participated in question-and-answer sessions with a panel of expert industry reviewers. The 10 teams that were chosen will now move on to the final phase, the Go! Contest, to bring their concepts closer to commercialization.

“The Solar Prize has been so instrumental in helping innovators get new solar energy projects off the ground and closer to the hands of consumers,” said Markus Beck, manufacturing and competitiveness program manager at DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office. “The Round 7 finalist teams are already proving to be impactful at both the community and industry levels.”

The Solar Prize, funded by DOE’s solar office and administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, was launched in 2018 to inspire innovators to devise solutions that could help boost the efficiency, cost effectiveness, and widespread adoption of solar power. Pavilion Solar was the only startup in Florida making the finals.

Teams will present their final innovations at the Solar Prize Round 7 Go! Demo Day at the RE+ Conference in September 2024. Two teams will then be named grand prize winners, each earning $500,000 in cash as well as additional technical support vouchers and the potential for additional prizes. Stay tuned!

READ OUR SPOTLIGHT IN REFRESH: Move over, rooftop solar: South Florida startup is launching solar-powered carports and pergolas


Yuga Labs donates $250K to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami to fund digital arts program

Yuga Labs, creators of the Bored Ape Yacht Club, Otherside, TwelveFold, and owners of Meebits, CryptoPunks and 10KTF, announced a $250,000 donation and partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami. The donation will fund a digital arts program to teach students the basics of artistic practice, using technology. The program also includes the participation of local and international artists including Corey Van Lew, Roc Sol, Jacopo Lanza, and LostArtist Co., who will volunteer their time to instruct and mentor the youth at BBBS Miami.

The program runs through the rest of 2024 and continues into 2025, with new artists coming in every quarter. Artists will instruct two classes a week working with elementary and middle school kids in the BBBS Miami technology lab that’s been outfitted with iPads and software thanks to the Yuga Labs donation. The program will culminate with a mint of the finished works of art from the students, creating a collection of NFTs available for purchase. The proceeds from the collection will go back to BBBS Miami to sustain the digital arts program.

“Anyone in our industry recognizes web3 can be a force for good, but unfortunately the lack of access in underserved communities creates an all too common divide we see with emerging technology” said Greg Solano, who founded Yuga Labs with fellow Miami native Wylie Aronow. “As leaders in web3, it’s our responsibility to provide access to the benefits of this technology, and we couldn’t think of a better partner to help us than Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami. Together, we’re showcasing the power of digital art, while paving the way for a better, more diverse web3.”

Yuga Lab’s donation to BBBS Miami is the third installment of Yuga’s $1 million commitment to support arts and education initiatives in Miami, which launched with a donation of $300,000 to the Venture Miami Scholarship Fund, and followed with a second donation of $150,000 to Music Access Miami.


“Stop snoring!” Eight Sleep unveils nextgen sleep pod

We know you heard this news on social media, but it is certainly a milestone to celebrate.

This week, sleep fitness company Eight Sleep unveiled its next generation Pod 4 Ultra, a complete redesign with biometric tracking technology with a new proprietary algorithm that automatically detects snoring for up to two individuals in the same bed, without needing any wearables. This is in addition to the Pod’s existing biometric tracking capabilities including heart rate, HRV, respiratory rate and sleep stages. Pod 4 also has two times more cooling power than the previous Pod generation and it debuts Tap-to-control, a new way to manage the Pod’s features without using a phone, simply by tapping the responsive sensor areas on each side of the Pod.

“With the launch of Pod 4 Ultra we continue to prove that technology can be used to understand what each person needs for optimal sleep and then deliver solutions. We are once again redefining what sleep should feel like by eliminating worries about temperature, comfort, and elevation while providing the most seamless sleep experience tailored to each individual’s nightly needs,” said CEO and co-founder Matteo Franceschetti, who co-founded the Miami-based company with his wife, Alexandra Zatarain. 

Franceschetti said the launch of Pod 4 Ultra has been Eightsleep’s biggest single day in revenue ever, and 700% better than the Pd 3 launch.


Tweet of the Week (and great news for Miami!)


4Geeks launches courses in Cybersecutiry, Applied AI

Responding to market needs, 4Geeks Academy, a Miami-based tech training and coding bootcamp provider, has just launched two new courses, Cybersecurity and Applied AI

Cybersecurity is a 14-week program that gives students a solid foundation in networking, Windows, Linux, and server administration, while also acquiring practical skills to secure these environments. The program delves into cloud security, penetration testing (both offensive and defensive), and cyber threat intelligence analysis. The first start date for this program will be June 10th. Find more information  here.

Applied AI is a 6-week program is tailored for professionals eager to leverage the power of AI within their current roles and receive a deep understanding of AI and its real-world applications. This course shows students how to strategically implement AI and significantly enhance their workplace capabilities. Find more details here


Palm Beach Capital closes $350M fund

Palm Beach Capital, a West Palm Beach-based middle market private equity firm, closed its sixth fund, at over $350 million, surpassing its target of $275 million. Fund VI’s investor base included diversified financial institutions, insurance companies, pension funds, foundations, endowments, consultants, funds of funds, and institutional family offices. The fund will continue to utilize PBC’s playbook driven by a differentiated and proprietary sourcing model, deep industry expertise and thematic industry consolidation strategies. Most of the platform companies targeted by PBC have annual EBITDA between $10 million and $30 million.

Founded in 2001, Palm Beach Capital is a middle market private equity investment firm that focuses on investment opportunities and partners with founders, business owners, and management teams in management buyouts, recapitalizations and growth equity investments. Since its inception, PBC has made investments in 56 companies, with a focus on engineering services, transportation and logistics, business services and healthcare sectors.


Levan Center to hold InnovateXperience Day

Last year, the Levan Center of Innovation collaborated with the Consulate of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Miami to launch the Sports Tech Innovation Bridge to the United States  program. Over six weeks, they engaged with 24 Dutch Sports Tech companies through workshops and sessions.

The final five selected participants special in athletic performance, facilities, operations, and fan engagement technologies and are particularly interested in the American market. The will visit the US during the week of May 13, spending time in Miami and Texas, where they will engage with various individuals and groups within the sports community. They will showcase their technology and innovation at InnovateXperience Day on May 15 at the Levan Center. Reserve to attend here.


Opportunity Knocks

  • DEADLINE TODAY: Apply to pitch at the Florida Venture Forum’s Early Stage Venture Conference June 4-5 in Orlando and compete for $300K in prize money and capital investment – as well as investors’ attention. Apply by May 10 here.
  • Applications are open for the”Prototype to Product” phase of the Built in Miami Program.  You will learn how to move from user-validated prototypes to creating minimum viable products on your way to taking your idea to the next level. Apply here by May 15.
  • Call for entries for the eMerge Americas PRIDE! Pitch Competition: The competition is open to LGTBIQA+ founders and six companies will pitch live on June 11 at a pop up Miami Tech Happy Hour in partnership with Chris Adamo and Natalia Martinez-Kalinina. The winner will receive a $2,500 prize. Appy here by May 20.
  • Applications are being accepted for the 2024 Techstars Miami Fall Accelerator, which will be a hybrid program. Apply by May 22. 
  • As part of its 100 Startup Project Scholarship Program, The Levan Center of Innovation is offering 10 entrepreneurs a one-year membership to the Levan Center of Innovation, thanks to the support of Memorial Healthcare System. Apply here.
  • Mana Tech is accepting applications for its Miami Immersion Program, a program that gives international startup founders on-site experience in Miami. Learn more and apply here


Have news to report? Email Nancy Dahlberg at [email protected] and follow her on X @ndahlberg. Subscribe to Refresh Miami’s free weekly newsletter here.  

Nancy Dahlberg