I recently wrote a Letter to the Editor of The Palm Beach Post in response to the Post’s In Depth Report on the Local Economy.  that report paper quoted economist Tony Villamil as saying, “the tri-county area doesn’t cooperate…and that hurts all the counties.” That could not be more true than in the high technology sectors like IT and the life sciences, and it is a critical issue for the region. Unless we can overcome the fragmentation of our efforts to build up the local high tech sector we will not be able to fulfill the dream of a strong high tech economy for South Florida.

We are in competition with other technology centers around the country. What is important is not how well we are doing relative to where we were a few years ago, but how well we are doing compared to our competition. A CEO considering relocation or a new graduate looking for a place to start a career will start with places where a community of like-minded people already is in place. Thus, the local assets of a region are critical to its ability to prosper and grow.

The good news for South Florida is that our region already has enough assets: companies, start-up activities, academic and research institutions and even investors, to compare favorably with significant competitors like Austin, Boulder and Northern Virginia. The chart shown below summarizes some of those many regional assets. However, those assets are spread across the region and if we only focus on our individual counties, for example, there are not enough assets in any one county to compete effectively with the other high technology regions. We need to find ways to collaborate on a region-wide basis so we will have the critical mass to attract entrepreneurs, investors and companies to grow the region.

To do that, we must overcome a significant history of parochialism and the entrenched habits of the past, and make a real effort to develop a regional technology community. Lip service to the concept is not enough. All the many groups involved in the community must make a concerted effort to collaborate by reaching out to others, finding common interests and working together toward their common visions.

The greatest centers of high technology greatness – The Bay Area, Boston, Research Triangle – are all regional communities that transcend political boundaries and form collaborative groupings that share a common vision for the community and work toward common goals. If South Florida is to achieve high technology greatness it must do the same.

 

South Florida High Tech Assets

(Information Technology, Life Sciences, Clean Energy)

Region-wide

Palm Beach

Broward

Miami-Dade

Local Operations of Major Companies

9

2

3

4

Local Mid-sized Companies

14

6

6

3

Life Science Companies *

71

24

22

25

Start-up Activity

Yes

Biotech, Info Tech

Medical Devices

Information Technology

Universities

4

1

1

2

Research Institutes

5

4 **

0

1

Entrepreneurial Support

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Networking (Regular, General)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Angel Funding Groups

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Potential Local Investors

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

High Tech Jobs

63,132

16,281

25,586

21,265

High Tech Job Growth

1%

3%

2.1%

-1.8%

* Sid Martin Life Science List

** Including St Lucie County

About the SFTA

The South Florida Technology Alliance (SFTA) promotes the growth, success and awareness of the regional technology community. Through events, networking, programs and education, we provide 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.

Become an individual member, a company member or a sponsor of an SFTA event today!