The Broward Workshop Technology Committee and the South Florida Technology Alliance have launched TechFt.Lauderdale, an initiative to enhance the tech ecosystem in Broward County.
The workshop, which consists of 120 key decision makers representing 120 of Broward’s major businesses and industries, is raising $100,000 to support the initiative. A presentation by Richard Berkowitz, chairman of the technology committee, shows it already has 10 sponsors: Broward College, BBX Capital, FPL, JM Family Enterprises, Nova Southeastern University, City Furniture, and Berkowitz Pollack Brant, where Berkowitz is a founder and executive chairman.
The effort will be seeking a full-time executive director. The workshop and SFTA will also have representatives on each other’s boards. The SFTA will also help workshop members stay informed about major events in Broward, including IT Palooza, SUP-X, and TechTalentFest.
SFBW Chairman and CEO Gary Press is a workshop member and has been supporting the efforts of Berkowitz and SFTA’s past chairman Lenny Chesal, evangelist for Cybraics, to help develop the partnership. SFBW will be a media partner in furthering the impact of TechFt.Lauderdale.
TechFt.Lauderdale will help local companies adapt and compete in a changing environment by supporting educational institutions, providing networking and learning opportunities for Broward companies, sharing job listings and creating a robust funding community that will help start-up companies and scale-up companies stay in this community, a press release states.
“We have been laying the groundwork for this effort since May of 2017. We are thrilled to have the support of our 35 members and sponsors to leverage and build upon the great work of the South Florida Technology Alliance,” Berkowitz said. The workshop allows business leaders to generate positive solutions on important issues and to collaborate towards long-term common goals.
The SFTA promotes the growth, success, and awareness of the Broward technology community. Through events, networking, programs, and education, it provides South Florida’s technology-related companies, academic institutions, entrepreneurs, governments and related organizations with an active forum to grow the business of technology in our region.
“We are looking forward to working with the Broward Workshop on this important initiative,” said SFTA President Tammy Kennedy.
The collaboration launched with a panel discussion about some of the challenges and opportunities for Broward County’s technology and business community with Ron Antevy, founder of e-Builder; Chris Fleck, vice president of Citrix; and Tom Conophy, CIO of AutoNation.
Broward County has an often under-appreciated reputation in the technology field and was the site of the first smartphone development. Citrix and Motorola continue to have a major technology presence and part of Motorola’s former space in Plantation is now being used by Magic Leap, which has raised $2.3 billion to bring a new augmented reality product to market. Another major player is JetSmarter, which has raised $105 million.
Nova Southeastern University also is planning a $20 million tech innovation center in the library at its Davie campus and has already raised half of that amount.
The Internet Coast Florida Innovation Highlights report outlines how Broward and South Florida, in general, have a sizable tech ecosystem:
- There are 35,000 STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) occupations in Broward, which is a third of South Florida’s total.
- The tri-county South Florida MSA is No. 9 by population and No. 15 for high-tech employment nationally.
- Eighty-nine venture capital firms made 103 investments in Florida businesses from January to September this year.
- Setting aside juggernaut Magic Leap, which raised $963 million in Series D funding, Broward had $91 million in investments, Palm Beach $154 million and Miami-Dade’s $254 million.
Originally published in the SFBW Magazine