As the second year of the #MiamiTech movement takes off, Mayor Francis Suarez’s innovative Venture Miami team has been rolling up its sleeves and shaking things up for the 305.
Expanding upon Mayor Suarez’s #MiamiTech vision, the Venture Miami team acts as “our city’s bridge between new to market entities and the existing innovation tech ecosystem while supporting regional collaboration amongst other local governments, economic development agencies, and organizations,” according to the Venture Miami’s Linkedin profile.
Refresh Miami spoke with Erick Gavin, University of Miami Law School grad and lawyer, longtime player in Miami’s tech industry and Venture Miami’s full-time executive director, to discuss his work with the team so far and what lies ahead as #MiamiTech continues to shape our future landscape. His comments have been edited for brevity.
Refresh Miami: Talk to us a bit about your current role with Venture Miami. What does your progress with the team look like so far?
Gavin: As the executive director for the Venture Miami team, I’m in charge of leading the efforts of the tech and innovation ecosystem, guided by my own vision to effectively execute Mayor Suarez’s #MiamiTech vision. Essentially, the Venture Miami team acts as a concierge service for both external partners and our community. We’re helping organizations and key players that are moving down to Miami with their transition: we help them pick the best office locations; we guide them throughout the real-estate market; we provide suggestions on schools for their children, and much more.
I serve as the business development arm, and with the support of my team, we’re helping to recruit and design industries that we want to see continue shaping the future of our Miami ecosystem. We’re not only looking to expand on crypto, web 3, and blockchain technology, but we’re also looking for companies that are working with clean and environmental tech and healthcare tech.
Refresh Miami: What are some of your goals with Venture Miami?
Gavin: We have a few set goals we’re working with, We are looking to integrate tech, education, and talent to help the people of Miami know and understand the impacts of tech. Talent is our future, and through education, we’re building up the decision-makers for what tech can really look like in Miami. Our goal is to create exposure and develop education programs in every university to ensure our students know and understand what Web3 is, such as our partnerships with Florida Memorial University and Miami Dade College, as well as access points throughout the community for key stakeholders, legislators, and citizens to know and understand web 3.
Refresh Miami: How does your vision follow what Mayor Suarez has in mind for Miami?
Gavin: My vision, along with our team’s goals, serve as tactical action items for what the mayor overall has planned for our Miami. We’re focusing on education by building charter schools that teach technology to students; we’re inspiring talent to ensure that they’re cultivated in Miami and are staying to work and play here; and we’re working with key community stakeholders so that they understand the significance of this movement. When it comes to tech, there’s a sense that only so many people can succeed, but #MiamiTech is proving that opportunities are endless, and our community is working even harder to grow together.
Refresh Miami: How exactly is Venture Miami approaching and cultivating local talent?
Gavin: Externally, Miami has really gotten the bad end of the stick on our ability to cultivate and grow talent; they’re constantly asking the question: does Miami have the talent, and can we retain and grow them? I say, I know we do. It’s just about making sure our talent gains access to opportunities at the right time and creating the systems to make that happen. We’re working across Miami’s major institutions to ensure that we all come together, discuss the needs for tech and our students, and cross-collaborate to fill in the necessary gaps.
Our ecosystem is growing fast enough to really win big if we continue collaborating and upskilling our workforce to work in technology-based companies across all industries and positions; and part of that is ensuring our students understand that they don’t need to be coders or engineers to work in tech – technology-based organizations need talent across all scales.
Refresh Miami: What are the defining features of #MiamiTech at this point?
Gavin: I think Miami has struggled in the past to really understand who we are and what our expertise is. When you look at cities across the U.S., each has their own identity: Boston has robotics; San Francisco has hard, advanced tech – but Miami never had its defining identity. Now, we’re trying to really forge ahead with who and what Miami is. We’re continuing to push forward crypto and Web3; we’re having larger conversations with legislation; and we’re shaping the state of our local environment. We want to see more advanced technologies in our city; we want to see healthcare companies focusing on biotech and prosthetics for the future of medicine; and we want to see more environmental companies focusing on the impacts of climate change for us.
Companies that are coming in with solutions for our future are huge wins in our book, and we want to make sure that they are present in a thriving Miami.
Refresh Miami: We know that April is now #MiamiTechMonth. What can the community expect and how can we get involved?
First, visit miamitechmonth.com, set up by eMerge, for a whole list of all the events happening in Miami this April. Venture Miami is also hosting its second Venture Miami Tech Hiring Fair on April 14 on Miami-Dade College’s campus – it’s going to be much bigger than the first one with a larger space and even more companies and opportunities for talent. You don’t need to be a student; you just need to be looking for your next move in tech.
For more information on Venture Miami, make sure to follow them on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. For more #MiamiTech news and events, keep it locked in Refresh Miami and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Photo at top of post: Erick Gavin, Venture Miami Executive Director, speaks at this year’s Miami Hack Week.
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