By Nancy Dahlberg
1 The face of inclusion: Miami EdTech’s accelerator cohort
Miami EdTech, an education technology nonprofit, launched its SIEL [Social Innovation & Entrepreneurial Leadership] Incubator June 2019 Cohort in partnership with Teach For America Miami-Dade. The accelerator supports educators focused on leveraging technology-enabled ideas to improve youth education, development, and workforce readiness.
“As the boots on the ground, these educators have the invaluable insight, access, and passion required to launch and scale the types of solutions that can redefine education,” says Miami EdTech CEO Carlos Vazquez, in announcing the cohort. "SIEL provides a clear and proven pathway for our educator-founders to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams while better preparing today’s youth for 21st century success," he added.
While only about 1% of venture-backed companies are started by a Black or Latinx founders and less than 1 in 5 tech companies are founded by women, 91% of the SIEL Cohort this year is Black/Latinx and 64% are women, he said.
“With over 50 years of combined teaching experience, this cohort is motivated and driven to address issues that range from Social Emotional Learning techniques, immediate access to prescription glasses, holistic student assessments, and communication that can improve school safety,” Vazquez said.
This group of entrepreneurs range from a startup that provides eyeglasses to students through a seamless interface and experience, to a founder dedicated to transforming how school’s use hall passes in a climate of school shootings. To date 25 startups have gone through Miami EdTech’s programming, including Kiddie Kredit, which is a mobile app experience teaching financial literacy for all.
Earlier this year, Miami EdTech announced that it has been awarded a $125,000 grant from Microsoft in support of its new "EdXpert, powered by Microsoft" program. In partnership with Florida International University's School of Computing & Information Sciences, EdXpert, focuses on Title I schools and those scoring low in Teacher Professional Development on Miami-Dade County public school's STEAM & STEM School Designation Reporting System. A true "train-the-trainer" professional development program, EdXpert uses state-of-the-art curriculum and training techniques to build teachers' capacity to deliver top-tier computer science and technology-enabled lessons in their classrooms.
2 Miami ranks first for tech hiring expectations, but nearly all find it challenging
Miami ranks No. 1 in a survey of U.S. cities planning to hire tech workers in the second half of 2019, according to a survey by Robert Half Technology.
Some key findings:
- 78% of Miami IT managers plan to expand teams by adding full-time employees, compared to 67% nationally;
- 91% in Miami say it's challenging to find skilled professionals
- 99% of leaders surveyed will make project-based hires, and of those, 65% plan to do so when there's a sudden vacancy on their team.
Respondents cited the following skills as immediately needed for their organizations: Cybersecurity; Mobile development; Cloud security; Cloud computing; Cloud architecture; Database management; and Business Intelligence. Besides recruitment, top priorities for Miami's tech managers in the next six months include maintaining security, investing in new technologies, and digital transformation projects.
"The tech hiring market in Miami continues to see growth, as companies here expand their IT operations," said Matt Bourdeau, senior regional manager for Robert Half Technology in Miami. "But finding candidates who can fill these highly technical roles is a challenge. The more specialized the skills needed and projects being done, the harder it is to find qualified candidates to fill these positions."
3 Real estate-tech startup Gridics expands to six more cities
Gridics, a Miami-based real estate-tech startup, has expanded it real estate development analysis platform to six more major cities: Los Angeles, Denver, Dallas, Austin, Orlando and Kansas City.
The Gridics platform allows real estate developers, investors, brokers and municipalities to calculate and visualize, in 3D, the development feasibility and capacity of a parcel or assemblage of parcels, inclusive of complex considerations like zoning overlays, use specific allowances and parking requirements. Launched two years ago, Gridics started with Miami before adding New York City and a number of other cities that contract to use the platform in their zoning and planning departments.
In the coming months, Gridics plans to add Chicago, Detroit, Tampa, Jacksonville, San Antonio, El Paso and Washington DC, said CEO Jason Doyle. “We are now aggressively scaling our coverage into all the major markets and in doing so are amassing an ocean of proprietary real estate data that we will leverage to drive smarter development and investment decisions while creating greater efficiencies across the real estate spectrum,” he said.
4 Big raise for late-stage life sciences company
TissueTech,, a Miami-based life sciences company, closed an $82.25 million Series C financing round. TissueTech is a pioneering regenerative medicine company that utilizes human umbilical cord and amniotic membrane.
The round was led by EW Healthcare Partners (formerly Essex Woodlands) with continuous investments from Ballast Point Ventures. As part of the transaction, Martin Sutter, managing director of EW, and William “Bill” A. Hawkins, III, senior advisor at EW and former chairman and CEO of Medtronic, have joined TissueTech’s board. The company intends to use the funds to pursue FDA regulatory approvals and support ongoing commercial development.
Founded in 1997 by CEO Amy Tseng, TissueTech and its subsidiaries pioneered the development and clinical application of human placental tissue-based products. TissueTech’s portfolio of currently available commercial products are designed to provide better surgical and therapeutic outcomes for ocular surface injury and disease, chronic and complex wounds, orthopedics, sports medicine, spine, urology, gynecology, plastic and general surgery, the company said in a news release.
5 Code for America team to tackle affordable housing
The newest participants in Code for America’s Community Fellowship program of 17 fellows will include a Miami team that plans to tackle one of the region’s biggest challenges: affordable housing.
The new class of fellows who will develop software solutions in seven U.S. cities over the next six months. During the program, the fellows will work alongside municipal officials for about six months to tackle some of their cities’ most pressing problems using civic tech.
In Miami, the City of Miami and Code for America will pair local Code for America Brigade technologists with local government to come up with a solution for disadvantaged Miami residents to find affordable housing. Fellows Gregory Johnson, Whitney Lubin, and Ezra Okuro, aim to help local government solve Affordable Housing needs by building on the work of 2018 Community Fellowship Team Austin to build an affordable housing data portal for the City of Miami.
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