South Florida startups raised $2.4B in VC in 2023. eMerge report reveals trends, top deals and more

By Nancy Dahlberg

Yes, 2023 was a bad year for venture capital. Yes, the Miami-Fort Lauderdale metro area fell hard, like other markets. But within the data in the 26-page eMerge Insights report released today are interesting findings and trends about where the money is flowing and why there is reason for optimism perhaps cautious optimism – about 2024.

First, the top-line finding: $2.41 billion was invested in South Florida startups and later-stage companies in 2023 across 393 deals. Compare that to the $5.8 billion across 426 deals raised in 2022.

Still, after our region’s record-setting years in 2021 and 2022, this was the third highest year for venture capital activity. The 2023 data also shows deal count held up well, showing that startups were still being funded, just with much smaller rounds. In fact, we saw no mega-rounds closed in 2023, according to our data; that hasn’t happened since 2015.

The Miami-Fort Lauderdale metro area ranked 7th in the nation for deal count and 11th for venture dollars flowing into the ecosystem.

The report, produced by eMerge Americas, is a comprehensive deep dive into the data. In my research for the report, I analyzed 2023’s fundings using deal data from Pitchbook, Crunchbase, Dealroom and Refresh Miami, after verifying the information and eliminating deals that were erroneous or still in progress, and looked for insights and trends in sectors, stages, money sources and more. I’ve been covering venture capital in the Miami area for more than a decade and have seen a steady increase, but the founder and funder migration during the pandemic raised our venture capital activity to a whole new level.     

While fintech and medtech continued to be the most active sectors, only one sector actually climbed from 2022: ClimateTech. In 2023, $263 million was invested in South Florida ClimateTech startups across 31 deals, up significantly in dollars and deals from 2022. This is especially noteworthy because nationally and globally, funding in the sector dropped significantly from 2022.

There were other positive trends to report: web3 funding was down but not out, for one. New venture funds were launched in our region, including Atomic’s $320 million Fund 4 and the launch of Marcelo Claure and Shu Nyatta’s $500 million Bicycle Fund. And while it was a time for founders to build, the ecosystem was also heads down, creating new programs around tech talent, including Miami Tech Works, and startup accleration, such as Venture Miami’s Built In Miami program.

One trend that continues to plague our region: Fundings for South Florida female-founded ventures trails even the dismal national average. More than 90 percent of the South Florida venture capital in 2023 went to all-male founded teams in 2023. According to Pitchbook’s data, South Florida startups with at least one female founder raised $146 million across 75 deals in 2023, just 7% of the South Florida venture capital activity according to Pitchbook’s deal data, much lower than larger tech hubs and the national average. About $40 million of that total was raised by all-women teams – that’s only 2%, about on par nationally. Statewide, startups with at least one female founder raised $309 million across 124 deals. 

Here are a few more highlights:

  • South Florida companies attracted 69% of the dollars flowing to the Sunshine State and 59% of the deals.
  • Financial technology was again the tri-county region’s most-active sector, securing $577 million, 24% of the venture capital dollars flowing to South Florida companies and 26% of the deals.
  • Medtech drew the most funding rounds in South Florida, and the sector was a strong No. 2 by dollars. Medtech companies snagged 16% of the deals, but with no mega-rounds in the pack, the dollar value of deals fell in 2023 to $362 million flowing into healthcare-related companies.
  • Startups based in Miami-Dade drew 69% of the deals flowing to South Florida companies in 2023. The top two cities for funded startups were Miami, followed by Boca Raton.
  • 2023’s top equity round was the homegrown Hollywood-based edtech scaleup ClassWallet, with a $95 million round led by Guidepost Growth Equity and including Education Growth Partners and the Lazard Family Office Partners.
  • This was a big year for debt financings: SellersFI, Marco and Flex each raised at least $100,000 in debt financing along with their equity rounds.

There’s much more in the report, including top deals, sector breakdowns for fundings in AI, fintech, medtech, climatetech and web3, 2023 exits, and state findings, too. Indeed, Florida also had its third best year on record for VC dollars ($3.5 billion) and 2nd best for deals.

Download the eMerge Insights report here. 

Looking ahead, as of this writing 10 weeks into 2024, companies in the tri-county area so far have pulled in about $360 million, my preliminary estimate and Refresh Miami’s reporting shows. That’s slighly ahead of the pace of fundings at this time last year. Stay tuned!


Nancy Dahlberg