SFTA unveils resource site; other tri-county groups take root

 

ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

While much of the spotlight has been on Miami, it takes the entire tri-county region to build a strong, sustainable technology hub — that’s the belief of several Broward and Palm Beach organizations focused on selling South Florida as a major emerging tech center.

Last week, the South Florida Technology Alliance launched an expanded agenda and a multi-year promotional campaign. The first change is a new, comprehensive website that aims to serve as a central information portal for the tech community. It includes links to companies, academic institutions, chambers and tech groups, funding groups, governmental programs and additional resources, a calendar for events throughout the region and a blog. The trade group’s website can be reached through the SFTA website at www.southfloridatech.org or directly at www.sftechinfo.org.

The SFTA, which has about 100 members and is based at the Technology Business Incubator at the Research Park at FAU, will also enhance its own educational programming and networkers, which now include about 10-12 events a year. The next stage for the SFTA will be to create additional councils, such as for CEOs, CFOs, sales and marketing, renewable energy and the life sciences, that will host its own gatherings and provide community resources. “Our goal is to grow jobs,” said SFTA President Lonnie Maier.

SFTA’s approach is to work with all groups from Miami-Dade through Palm Beach County and further north to support the regional tech community, said Maier. For instance, in addition to the 10-plus events it produces a year, SFTA could do a joint event with IT Women, said Maier.

While SFTA is expanding, other groups have been taking root. Tech Gateway, an advisory group based in Fort Lauderdale that launched this year, brings together expertise from the region’s tech companies, colleges and universities and all three county economic development councils — the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, Beacon Council and Business Development Board of Palm Beach County — to collaborate on challenges, combat brain drain and promote the sector, said its president, Christopher Malter. It has begun to build a map of the tri-county area’s assets on techgateway.org.

“Our focus is to leverage that expertise to germinate and grow new companies, retain companies from exiting South Florida and expand tech/telecom companies in South Florida,” said Malter. “We have created and continue to maintain an open dialogue between all the universities and industry to address their needs not only from an engineering perspective, but from a management and course requirement level.”

Bridging the geographic divide is also a focus of the “Group of Groups,” led by Jay Moskowitz and made of more than 50 leaders of tech organizations, funding groups, academia and others. They meet at least quarterly to address common issues and work together on projects. One of those was the launch of a Startup Bus to transport techies from Broward/Palm Beach to Miami-Dade for events, and vice versa. The networking begins on the bus.

Find more startup news on the Starting Gate blog and follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg

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