While it might not attract the same buzz as Los Angeles or New York City as a growing technology hub, South Florida has been doing its best to evolve into a major tech player, based on the amount of capital raised and number of startups sprouting up.
In the third quarter of 2015, venture capital deals totaled $74.8 million, according to the MoneyTree Report, which is based on data from Thomson Reuters. That’s a notable increase from the same quarter in 2014, when venture capital funding totaled $20.8 million.
In addition to healthcare IT and e-finance, South Florida’s tech firms are also drawing attention for work in virtual and augmented reality. Google recently led a $542 million investment in Magic Leap, a tech startup in Dania Beach, Florida that specializes in augmented reality, which layers digital imagery over a user’s surroundings. Although Magic Leap’s actual products remain under wraps, that hasn’t stopped established tech companies’ passion for investing in it; e-commerce giant Alibaba will reportedly lead a new round of company funding.
There are other indications that South Florida is growing into its own as a tech hub, including Sup-X, an international conference for entrepreneurs and investors scheduled to take place in Ft. Lauderdale in February. If everything goes according to plan, Sup-X (pronounced “Soup-X”) will bring together startup and early-stage entrepreneurs, angel investors and venture capitalists.
At this time, fifteen nonprofit organizations devoted to entrepreneurship have signed on as Alliance Partners of Sup-X, including Career Source Broward and its program Startup Quest, Florida Venture Forum, FAU Tech Runway, LaunchCode and the South Florida Technology Alliance.
“A lot of good things are going on in the South Florida entrepreneurial ecosystem right now. We’re seeing increased activity, more funding, and more attention and talent being drawn to the area,” said Bob Fitts, founder of Sup-X and president of the Boca Raton based Gold Coast Venture Capital Association.
Sup-X isn’t the area’s only tech-centric conference; there’s also eMerge Americas, which brings together innovators, investors, and thought leaders from 50 countries.
If the region can maintain its current pace in startup growth, its prominence as a tech hub will only increase. At that point, maybe Florida will seize the “Silicon Beach” moniker from Los Angeles once and for all.