Hundreds of civic leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, and educators gather at UM to discuss Miami’s burgeoning tech and innovation ecosystem.
By Jessica M. Castillo
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (July 21, 2016)—University of Miami President Julio Frenk kicked off the fourth annual One Community One Goal meeting, held on campus last Thursday, by highlighting the Hemispheric Innovation and Technology initiative, which aims to unite top thinkers, designers, and resources at the University with complementary counterparts throughout the hemisphere.
“Universities have a duty to translate science into solutions,” Frenk told the 600 civic leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, educators, and fellow university presidents gathered at the Shalala Student Center to discuss the progress of The Beacon Council’s five-year blueprint for local economic development. “Miami can be the convener and hub of innovation for all of the Americas.”
As Miami-Dade County’s economic development agency, The Beacon Council launched the One Community One Goal initiative in 2012 to foster economic diversification and spur the creation of jobs in seven target industries. This year’s meeting focused on Greater Miami’s burgeoning tech and innovation ecosystem, which Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez said the area is ideally suited to grow.
While investors and entrepreneurs initially may visit for the sunny beaches and laid-back atmosphere, Gimenez said, they will stay for Miami’s rich and varied cultural and economic ties across the Americas.
“We’ll be Tech Beach, not Silicon Valley,” Gimenez said, noting that he has championed decreasing regulatory barriers for local startups because “where Miami has historically struggled is in scaling up ventures.”
In addition to hosting the meeting on campus, UM was a program sponsor and had several booths displaying some of its innovative research and technologies. Featured were the Rosenstiel School for Marine and Atmospheric Science’s Shark Tagging Research Program, the collaborative “organs on a chip” technology from the Miller School of Medicine and the College of Engineering, and the School of Architecture’s Responsive Architecture and Design, or RAD-UM, Lab’s algae bio-reactor.
As envisioned, the Hemispheric Innovation and Technology (HIT) initiative, which Frenk unveiled at the eMerge Americas technology conference in April, is designed to build and sustain an “innovation ecosystem” where basic research progresses into the testing, development, and launch of innovations that generate funding to “restart the engine of basic research.”
Positioning the University as a hemispheric innovation hub aligns with all four aspirations Frenk unveiled during his January 2016 inaugural address: to be the hemispheric, excellent, relevant, and exemplary university. With new investments in science and engineering, including a $100 million gift from longtime UM benefactors Phillip and Patricia Frost, the University aims to transform innovations into solutions for relevant world problems.
“We should be inward-looking through knowledge translation but also outward-looking by serving as a hemispheric hub,” Frenk said.