By Nancy Dahlberg
1 Let’s make Florida the Self-Driving State
You gotta love Automative News’s headline: “Florida: the next hotbed of AV tech?”
Overhyped? Maybe, maybe not. In June, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation that ensures an industry-friendly foundation for the self-driving industry, allowing for self-driving vehicles to operate here, once they have been fully tested, and also allowing ride-share companies to deploy fleets.
There is already a good bit of R&D and testing going one. Automotive News did a nice job rounding up all the projects going on now that could propel the region forward.
Look ma, no hands: In June, Silicon Valley’s Starsky Robotics held its first test of its self-driving truck with no human driver on a 9.5 mile stretch of the Florida Turnpike. It was a success.
Take me to happy hour: Self-driving startup Voyage has been testing its autonomous shuttles in The Villages, a retirement community. The seniors reportedly love it.
If they can drive in Miami…: Voyage likes the quieter streets of the Villages, but Ford really puts the vehicles to the test. Argo AI, the company developing the self-driving system for Ford, has been testing them on Miami’s mean streets You’ve probably seen them making deliveries.
Wait, there’s more: In Orlando’s Lake Nona, a self-driving shuttle service called Beep will begin in the next year, with up to 20 vehicles operating. And SunTrax, a 475-acre autonomous-vehicle testbed between Orlando and Tampa, plans to open this summer.
One reason most of these efforts are culminating around Central Florida: The University of Central Florida. Its Mixed Emerging Technology Integration Lab conducts simulation research and training and its College of Optics and Photonics has attracted ech companies such as Luminar, which essentially makes the eyes of autonomous vehicles.
2 Another big announcement in the gaming world
Miami-based Origin PC, known for its custom builds of over-the-top gaming PCs, has been sold to Corsair, a peripherals and component maker in California.
“Corsair is a fantastic partner to help take Origin PC forward, known for creating quality, high-performance products that fully align with Origin PC,” said Kevin Wasielewski, CEO of Origin PC, in a statement. “With a complete range of enthusiast PC products, Origin PC and Corsair are uniquely placed to create amazing new systems that make the experience of owning a personalized custom gaming PC better than ever.”
Media reports said Origin PC will continue to operate as a separate unit from its Miami office. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Origin PC was founded 10 years ago by several Alienware alums: Kevin Wasielewski, Hector Penton and Richard Cary.
Corsair sells peripherals to consumers for building their own PCs, but Corsair CEO Andy Paul said one of the reasons Origin was attractive was to reach customers who wanted to buy and not build their systems.
"With Origin PC's expertise in personalized custom gaming systems and Corsair's strength in performance PC hardware and the iCUE software ecosystem, we're excited to combine our efforts to create new world-class gaming experiences for PC gamers," Paul said in the release.
3 And a big funding announcement, this time in biotech
X-Vax Technology, a Jupiter-based biotech startup, announced it raised $56 million in Series A financing.
Adjuvant Capital, a fund supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, the Serum Institute of India and Alexandria Venture Investments were among the investors.
The funding will be used to enter X-Vax's herpes vaccination candidate, delta gD-2, into a Phase 1 clinical study. X-Vax’s leadership includes former executives from major American and European biopharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, Genetech and Lundbeck.
4 Here are 3 accelerator opportunities open right now - *time sensitive*
Apply to 500 Startups Miami's Growth Program - but hurry: The deadline is July 28 for the 500 Startups accelerator's Batch 2. If you’re a founder with a startup that is finding Product Market Fit and are ready to scale, and/or you are looking to validate a new growth strategy, this program is for you. The program, culminating in a demo day, will be entirely devoted to your growth, and actively testing, refining and validating your strategies. You will work out of the 500 Startups Miami office, and tap into 500 Startups’ worldwide mentor network. Apply here.
Here’s a double-header of opportunities for social impact startups and nonprofits:
Deadline approaching for SVP Miami’s Investee Program: Do you have a social venture with a proven model and are looking to take it to the next level? SVP Miami’s Investee Program selects high-impact, scalable social ventures based in South Florida and provides them with up to $100,000 and pro-bono expert support over the course of several years. SVP works with the social ventures to create a growth strategy and help them to implement it, with a focus on strengthening organizational infrastructure and diversifying income streams to achieve maximum social impact. It also chooses some social ventures to receive project-based assistance that may or may not have funding attached. Deadline for Letter of Interest applications: July 29. Apply here.
Applications open for Radical Partners Social Entrepreneurship Bootcamp: Radical Partners is searching for South Florida’s most promising social innovators for its 6th cohort of Social Entrepreneurship Bootcamp. Are you building something that strengthens the region and solves an important community issue? Are you ready to scale your impact? “We want to invest in your skill, network, and sustainability. Join the family. Amplify your impact. Nominate your friends.” Applications are open now; the deadline is Aug. 25. Apply here.
Have news or tips? Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg and email her at email@example.com