eMerge Americas’ $2.5B of impact: Looking back by the numbers – and ahead

By Nancy Dahlberg

“When my father and I first began dreaming of eMerge and evangelizing what we thought it could be, we’ve always had in mind that we wanted to create something impactful way beyond the conferences,” said Melissa Medina, CEO of eMerge Americas, who co-founded the Miami organization with Manny Medina. Now, as eMerge Americas celebrates its 10th anniversary, it is able to show its decade of impact by the numbers.  

According to a study conducted by the Washington Economics Group and released last week, eMerge Americas has generated $2.51 billion in total economic impact across South Florida since 2014. In those same 10 years, eMerge Americas generated 9,894 jobs in the South Florida.

“I think what was most exciting when we got the report findings was it was just like wow, now it’s measured and the impact is in black and white. It was validating,” Medina said in an interview with Refresh Miami.

Indeed, eMerge America’s impact goes beyond its signature annual conferences, which have grown in attendance from 6,000 in 2014 to 20,000 this year. eMerge’s programs and community partnerships include a year-round accelerator and showcase involving more than 100 startups, among others. What’s more, a significant $939 million of $2.51 billion in impact derived from the years 2020 through 2023, even though eMerge did not hold conferences in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.

The year 2022 was the most impactful in terms of economic impact in South Florida, returning $714 million of total economic impact, more than double any other year since 2014, and over triple that of 2023 at $221 million, according to the report. One reason was that it was a record-setting year in South Florida for venture capital. Funding data provided by Crunchbase and PitchBook show that $409 million in venture capital funding had been secured by companies that have participated in eMerge since 2022, the report said. The inflation-adjusted funding total for participating companies between 2014 and 2019 was $661 million.

As for job creation, from 2020-2023, 3,260 Jobs were supported, of which 81 percent are in the knowledge-intensive sector. This sector pays wages higher than the region’s average, and the sector’s growth was fueled by economic development strategies of both South Florida and the state, the report said.

“Seeing the jobs that we’ve helped create, looking at the total economic impact by number, it all was a really proud and exciting moment for us as a team,” said Medina. “Most important, it made us that much more excited to continue doing the work that we’re doing, because it’s clear that we’re having a very positive effect in the mission, which has always been critical to eMerge to help foster a thriving tech and entrepreneurship ecosystem here.”

Find more findings of the 56-page impact report here.

Going forward, Medina said the team will “add fuel” to the additional programming eMerge creates throughout the year. Adding a second accelerator cohort per year is under consideration. “The bottom line is we want to continue to do more engagements, convenings, programmatic efforts throughout the year, of course threaded and culminating at the main conference, but I think that that report showed us that additional programming provides an enormous amount of impact across the board.”

For instance, eMerge plans to build upon this year’s new components at the conference – the HealthTech Innovation Hub, The AI-Quantum Village, and the dual defense programming – with more programs throughout the year that “promote even more connections … and continue to put the story of what’s happening in South Florida and really the state of Florida front and center,” Medina said.

eMerge’s daylong Tech Basel event will return for its fourth edition, likely on Dec. 4, with its founder-investor-family office focus but there will also highlight healthtech, dual defense and AI.

As for the Startup Showcase, Medina said 2024’s startup cohort was 70% minority, up from 53% in 2023, and eMerge’s goal for the next one will be 80% to help reduce the gaps that exist. As a majority-minority community, “we want this accelerator to be reflective of who we are as a community and our DNA.”

In addition, eMerge plans to pilot a program for SMBs in Miami-Dade County, creating a bridge between the region’s small businesses and entrepreneurial and startup efforts. “We think there’s a real need,” said Medina. “We don’t shy away from continuing to brainstorm, continuing to push ourselves. We listen to what the community is asking for and then try to implement what we can.”

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Nancy Dahlberg