April 22, 2015

CBRE study: South Florida lags other markets for tech-talent growth

50 Miami, FL

Tech-talent clustering is a growing driver of demand for office space in both large and small markets across the United States, according to a research report released Tuesday by CBRE, a global commercial real estate and investment firm. But of the 50 top office markets it studied, Miami ranked at the bottom for tech-talent growth -- No. 50. Fort Lauderdale ranked 48th.

Among other Florida cities, Tampa ranked 36th and Orlando 47th. At the top of the list: Silicon Valley, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, San Francisco Peninsula, New York; Seattle, Boston, Baltimore, Austin and Atlanta. Smaller markets in the top 25 included Edison, NJ, Columbus, OH, and Salt Lake City, UT.

“Tech talent growth rates are the best indicator of labor pool momentum and it’s easily quantifiable to identify the markets where demand for tech workers has surged,” said Colin Yasukochi, director research and analysis for CBRE, in a news release. “Tech talent growth, primarily within the high-tech industry, has recently been the top driver of office leasing activity in the U.S.”

Orlando ranks as one of the most affordable of the markets in the U.S., based on rent and wage costs, according to the report.  Fort Lauderdale and Miami made it to the list as a result of the sizeable increase in their millennial workforce, which is considered a robust contributor to the growth of tech-talent pools. Since 2000, the population in Miami’s urban core has doubled, according to a recent Miami DDA study.

 Though tech talent  comprises only 3.4 percent of the total U.S. workforce (4.4 million workers), the high-tech industry accounted for more major U.S. office leasing activity than any sector in both 2013 (13.6 percent) and 2014 (19.0 percent), according to the CBRE report.

CBRE is tracking tech companies that are moving into Miami and hopes to have data to present to media and clients attending eMerge Americas, said Quinn Eddins, director of Research and Analysis, CBRE Florida.

“Why do we care? A strong tech sector is good for Miami in many ways of course, but also because there’s a strong correlation between tech clusters and high-performing office markets. Nationally, the tech talent labor force is growing at a rapid pace,” said Eddins. “More tech or tech-related jobs mean more demand for office space. More demand for office space means decreasing vacancy and rising rents, and that’s what makes a strong office market, and an attractive environment for investors.”

  48 Fort Lauderdale, FL

April 21, 2015

Comcast to offer 2-gigabit Internet to homes in South Florida

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@Miamiherald.com

Fast, faster, fastest.

In the race for speed, Comcast soon will offer the fastest residential Internet speed in the country to its 1.3 million residential customers in South Florida.

Comcast’s Gigabit Pro will offer 2-gigabit-per-second (Gbps) service — twice as fast as its competitors — to its customers in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties as well as those in the Jacksonville area beginning next month.

How fast is 2-gigabit service? Internet service at that speed would allow customers to download a high-definition movie in 12 seconds. “You can download your favorite band’s entire album in less than a second or an episode of Parks and Recreation in 2 seconds,” said Comcast Florida spokeswoman Mindy Kramer.

Comcast has not announced pricing or installation costs for its new service.

Gigabit Pro is a symmetrical service, meaning the speeds are the same for uploads and downloads. It will be available in areas with access to fiber, which is throughout its tri-county coverage area. Comcast also plans to offer a 2-megabit fiber service through its XFINITY Communities program servicing some local multi-dwelling units such as apartment complexes.

Unlike some competitors offering gigabit speeds, “this will be one of the most comprehensive rollouts of multigig service,” said Thomas Zemaitis, vice president of sales and marketing for Comcast Florida. “We didn’t want to pick specific neighborhoods or cities or towns. ... It is throughout our marketplace.”

South Florida is the third Comcast market to announce Gigabit Pro, following Atlanta’s launch earlier this month and California last week. The company has built out more than 145,000 route miles of fiber across its service area, including Florida, to serve residential communities with a fiber-to-the-home service.

Zemaitis said the initial target for this service would be early adopters. They may be streaming videos, movies and TV across multiple devices, or they may be hard-core gamers or customers who need to transfer large files, for instance.

“More than half of our customers have speeds that are 50 megabits or faster. They are looking for more speed and this competitive move is a reaction to that,” Zemaitis said, noting that 25 megabits is typical.

The company will announce pricing next month, Zemaitis said. There also will be installation costs because Comcast has to run fiber from the node to the home and install professional grade equipment outside the house as well as a professional-grade router inside, he said.

In South Florida, 1-gigabit service is either already being offered or in the plans for several carriers.

Atlantic Broadband, the nation's 13th largest cable operator, began offering 1-gigabit service to its Indian Creek customers last summer, and is expanding throughout its Miami Beach service area. AT&T announced in August that it will expand its 1-gigabit AT&T GigaPower network to Miami, but the company has not released specific locations of availability, pricing or a timeline for the project that involves a nationwide rollout. And while South Florida is not yet on Google Fiber’s expansion map, the company has been rolling out its 1-gigabit service in selected cities across the country, and announced earlier this year that four cities in the Southeast are in the plans.

Teresa Mastrangelo, analyst with the market research firm Broadbandtrends, told the San Jose Mercury News that Comcast is trying to get a jump on AT&T, Google Fiber and smaller players rolling out 1-gigabit service, but that Comcast's pricing will play a key role in whether it will appeal to customers. “I don’t know if anyone will know the difference between 1 and 2 gigabits,” she said. “It’s going to be fast, period.”

Comcast has been delivering multigig (up to 10 Gbps) Ethernet service to businesses in Florida since 2011 and serves more than 1.5 million businesses nationwide. With the introduction of Gigabit Pro, the company has now increased speeds for its subscribers 14 times in the past 13 years, Comcast said.

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.


April 17, 2015

Open English, already all over LatAm, launches online school in U.S. market


Andres Moreno, founder and executive chairman of Open English, an online English-language school that has taught 300,000 students across Latin America, discusses the upcoming U.S. launch, which will start in Miami. He was at a launch event at Open English's Coconut Grove headquarters Thursday night. Photo courtesy of Pinta.

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

About 300,000 students across the Americas have taken classes from Open English, an online English-language school based in Miami. In the last eight years, the venture-backed company has conquered Latin America, and now it is officially entering a market very close to home: The U.S. Hispanic market.

This week, Open English announced  its official expansion to the United States, bringing its affordable teacher-led instructional model to the nation's fastest-growing population. The launch, which will start in Miami immediately and then roll out to other cities, will be fueled by a national advertising and marketing campaign.

MorenoThanks to word of mouth from family and friends, “we have had this organic growth already happening here so it was very easy for us to say this is the next big market for Open English. We also realized that the core need to learn English and be successful as a result – and English is a tool for success – is very similar if you live in Colombia, Brazil, Argentina or if you live in a city like Miami or LA,” said Andres Moreno, founder and executive chairman of Open English. “This is a moment we have been waiting for for a long time.”

He said the numbers were also convincing: According to Brookings Institution, nearly one in 10 working-age  U.S. adults — 19.2 million persons aged 16 to 64 — is considered to have limited English proficiency, and most of this group speaks Spanish. And according to the Pew Hispanic Center, 68 percent of Hispanic immigrant adults say they do not speak English at all or don’t speak English very well.

Open English’s approach to learning English includes unlimited live classes with native English speakers and over 2,000 hours of multi-media content. It is now offered in 20 countries, and the company has raised $120 million in venture capital financing to fuel its growth.

Open English commercials in Latin America have been known for their wit and go viral over social media. The commercials will be taking a new approach in the U.S., however. The commercials will be more focused on explaining the product and how it can propel the student's career success, Moreno said. Expect to see billboard and bus bench advertising too, as well as online and radio advertising. New U.S. students will get a free month on Open English as part of the promotion.

“We are starting in Miami, where the brand is already well received. As we learn more about the U.S. Hispanic as a whole, then we will launch into a national expansion,” said Moreno.

Moreno said launching in the U.S. market is also personally satisfying because the country has been so welcoming.

Originally from Venezuela, Moreno started Open English there in 2006 with his co-founders but it soon became clear that he needed to raise money in the U.S. He moved to Silicon Valley with $700 in his pocket, slept on a friend’s couch for months and went door to door seeking meetings with venture capitalists and angels.

After raising initial funding, he moved the company to Miami and has been able to raise about $100 million of the $120 million  while the company has been based in Miami, a fund-raising success story in a region that has historically been venture-challenged. The global company now employs about 1,500 people, including contractors, and about 60 work out of its Coconut Grove headquarters and Fort Lauderdale satellite office.

Moreno, active in the local entrepreneurship community,  is also on the founding board of Endeavor Miami, the first U.S. office of the global nonprofit that mentors and supports high-impact entrepreneurs.

 Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg

April 15, 2015

Hungry? Caviar restaurant delivery service launches in Miami

Caviar Miami Web Screen


What's for dinner? Caviar, the restaurant delivery service now owned by Square, is hoping to find a hearty appetite in Miami.

Launching Wednesday, Caviar will allow Miamians to  easily place orders from local, independent restaurants via Caviar’s website or free mobile app for Android and iOS. Once customers place their orders they can track the status of their orders and follow along with their couriers via GPS. For consumers, the cost is $4.99, regardless of order size; the 18 percent tip is already included.

Participating restaurants include: Blue Collar, Doraku Sushi, Ms. Cheezious, Proof Pizza & Pasta, Momi Gyoza, Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop & Cafe , LOBA, Made in Italy Gourmet, Miami Smokers, Miam Café & Boutique, Hannya, Bryan in the Kitchen, Viva Mexico y Algo Mas, NOA Catering, Kone Sushi  and PM Steak and Seafood. More will be added soon, the company said.

Caviar Miami iOS-ScreenshotDaniel Serfer, owner and chef at Blue Collar in Miami's MiMo District, said he has always wanted to offer delivery but didn’t think there was a service that would deliver the restaurant's food with the proper attention. “With Caviar’s streamlined app and friendly couriers, we can just focus on doing what we do best and continue to cook guest favorites, from our spicy oxtail, to our shrimp and grits.”

Founded in 2012, Caviar now brings delivery to diners in 18 markets across the country, including San Francisco, New York, Boston, Chicago. Philadelphia and Portland. In the last six months alone, Caviar has tripled order volume and reduced delivery times by more than 20 percent — despite the rapid increase in orders, the company said. Caviar, purchased by Square last summer for a reported $90 million in stock, is part of Square’s  suite of tools and services for small businesses.

Caviar is part of a wave of fast-growing food-related urban tech delivery apps that took root in San Francisco or New York and are now spreading around the nation and attracting VC dollars, In Miami, other options are available, including Grubhub and as of last year, Postmates. In northern Broward and southern Palm Beach, locally based startup Foodoozle has started a service.

April 06, 2015

Magic Leap hires a top mobile executive from Samsung

Magic Leap, the secretive Dania Beach-based tech startup Magic Leap developing "Cinematic Reality," has hired a mobile specialist from Samsung.

Yannick Pellet, now Magic Leap's vice president of software engineering. previously was a top executive at Samsung. As vice president, advanced software platform at Samsung Research America, he built software platforms for mobile phones and tablets. Before that, at Nokia, he built the Maemo software platform targeted at mobile devices and tables, among other positions. “I am very impressed with his combination of innovation, deep engineering chops, and ability to listen, synthesize, and problem solve,” said founder and CEO Rony Abovitz in a news release.

Magic Leap has made a number of high-profile hires, including appointing science fiction writer Neal Stephenson as the company’s Chief Futurist in December. The company lists nearly 100 open jobs on its website. Magic Leap received a $542 million investment led by Google in 2014. Abovitz co-founded Davie-based Mako Surgical Corp., acquired by Stryker Corp. for $1.65 billion in 2013.

Read previous Miami Herald story about Rony Abovitz here.


News: Kairos acquires emotion analysis company IMRSV


By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

When Brian Brackeen, the founder and CEO of the facial recognition software company Kairos, was asked by his customers for a capability his Miami tech startup didn’t offer, he set out to add it.

Those customers -- software developers in a variety of industries, including healthcare, retailing, advertising and banking -- wanted not only the advanced facial recognition technology that Kairos offered, but they also wanted to know about emotions behind the faces. Were they happy, sad, attentive, agitated? How do they respond when they look at ads or products?

Rather than build the technology, Brackeen bought it. "We went looking at companies in the space and found one that was far and away the best,"  he said.

On Monday, Kairos announced it acquired the New York-based emotion analysis startup IMRSV. With this acquisition, Kairos becomes the only facial biometrics company offering both facial recognition and emotion analysis tools for developers, said Brackeen. The IMRSV team will be moving to Miami.

“I feel like I can finally offer my customers everything they want and it is all in house,” said Brackeen, who started the company in 2012. “The acquisition of IMRSV positions Kairos to take a leadership role in the rapidly growing facial biometrics sector. It also helps us, as a developer centric company, achieve our goal of delivering enterprise quality tools to developers and making facial biometrics and emotion analysis accessible to all.”

 Brackeen said that about a third of Kairos’ projected $4 million in revenue this year will come from the acquisition: “This is a big deal for us.”

Said Jason Sosa, founder of IMRSV who will be joining Kairos: “Kairos shares in our belief of converting the complex into the simple. The impact of these technologies has enormous potential to transform countless industries."

It wasn’t long ago when Brackeen was heading a small team working around a big table at The LAB Miami co-working space in Wynwood, going through the ups and downs of the startup journey, even running out of money at one point. But the company powered through it, and last fall Brackeen was selected as an Endeavor Entrepreneur, which brings with it a global network of mentorship and support. The Endeavor network helped Brackeen throughout the acquisition negotiations as well as with Karios' recent fund-raising roadshow plans, said Brackeen, who worked at Apple, IBM and other companies before starting Kairos.

Now, with 17 employees and soon to grow to 25 with the acquisition, Kairos has recently moved out of The LAB and into its own offices nearby. Marketing expert Freddie Laker, formerly with SapientNitro, Gui.de and other companies, joined the team three months ago as chief marketing officer and also oversees sales. Brackeen is interviewing candidates for COO and a chief science officer.

Brackeen says more acquisitions are most likely in Kairos’ future, and he believes startups teaming up, as his did with IRSV, will be the trend as startups strive for the exponential growth venture capitalists want to see, while still holding onto their startup cultures. “Our world, the facial recognition world, the computer vision world, are full of amazing PhDs who leave amazing universities to start companies, but they don’t have experience in running a company. We are really good at that and we feel like we have a lot to offer all these firms.”

Together with the acquisition, Kairos has raised $5.5 million in seed financing so far, and hopes to close a Series A round in the fall. Kairos' shareholders now include Kapor Capital, New World Angels, VenVelo, Quotidian Ventures, Great Oaks Venture Capital, Eniac Ventures, 500 Startups and TechStars.

In conjunction with the acquisition, Kairos released a new suite of tools and analytics software for developers. Kairos currently supports more than 4,600 developers.

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.


 KAIROS TEAM: Meyako Williams, Neil Pitts, CEO Brian Brackeen and Freddie Laker, at Kairos, a facial recognition company located in Wynwood. | Photo here and above by CHARLES TRAINOR JR MIAMI HERALD STAFF

How it all works:




Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/article17474594.html#storylink=cpy

April 04, 2015

A student’s view: 4 takeaways from Salim Ismail’s Exponential Technology course

Salim4By Gregory Johnson

Ever wondered how companies like Uber, Snapchat and Airbnb became billion dollar companies in just a few years? While taking Salim Ismail’s all-day course at The Idea Center I learned about how technology was impacting our society.

Exponential Organizations are companies using lean startup methodology along with exponential technologies like 3D printing, solar, sensors, drones and Neurotech to disrupt industries. The term ‘exponential’ is used to emphasis the idea of how fast these companies grow and reach billion dollar valuations.

During this course we went a deeper learning about how new companies, big corporations and even countries were using exponential technology. Here are four things I took away. 

1. Software is eating the world

Everything is becoming information enabled and according to Salim “Life is actually information enabled”.  You can call a driver with the push of a button using Uber or order groceries using Amazon Prime. Companies are becoming information-enabled and this is creating the uprising of on-demand services we are seeing with the likes of Uber, Airbnb and Instacart.

Software is doing the same thing for the world.  This technology goes beyond just startup companies. Big Corporations and even Countries are using technology. In Singapore, for example, 7% of the agriculture is now being vertically farmed.  If that does not meet your taste, Hershey is also developing a 3D printer that prints chocolate.

2. “My 3rd Year Old won’t need a drivers license” – Salim Ismail

Autonomous cars use technology so you can ride in the car without a driver. Big corporations like Google have already started driving its autonomous vehicle in California and it will soon be in Florida as well. A future without needing a license is very possible as apps like Uber, Lyft and Car2go are already things college students like myself use to get around.

3. How Exponential Technology will affect kids

“So how do we teach our kids about this technology?” one event attendee asked. Salim’s reply was “They are already being exposed to it”. A point that I believed is very accurate. Kids today are learning how to use smartphones at the age of 2 with no help from their parents. 

In the same way young children are being exposed to these technologies online or through educational program. Programs in Miami like Wynwood Maker Camp and Code Fever are teaching kids how to code and use sensors like Arduino as early as middle school.

4. Exponential Technology is impacting all aspect of our lives

Every area of our lives is being affected by technology including health care. Technology is turning every part of health care into a digital environment.

What that means is you can track your health, manage your prescriptions and even speak with a doctor before stepping into a doctor’s office.

The explosive amount of change happening as a result of technology seems to be endless. It also brings about questions on privacy. One area Salim warns about is how our 4th Amendment is disappearing because of technology. With exponential change we may need to reassess the way we govern ourselves. Whatever the case this will not stop the exponential change happening all across the world.

Gregory Johnson is an entrepreneur and a student at Miami Dade College.


April 02, 2015

Urban Drones' water-loving drone makes giant splash on Kickstarter

Splash Drone

A Coral Springs company’s water-loving drone has made a crowd-funding splash with fans on Kickstarter. With about six days still to go on Thursday,Urban Drones has raised more than $218,000 for its new product — and surpassed its original fund-raising goal by $200,000.

Splash Drone AlexCalled the Splash Drone, the waterproof quad copter is capable of landing and floating on water and can help boaters in distress. It would also appeal to outdoorsy types who use a GoPro camera to capture their adventures, said Alex Rodriguez, CEO and co-founder of Urban Drones (shown here), who has been developing and designing drones since 2007, before most people knew what a drone was. This drone is for hobbyists, as Federal Aviation Administration rules for now limit commercial drone use.

While there are plenty of companies that develop and manufacture drones, few focus on waterproof drones, said Ryan Perez, co-founder in charge of marketing for the company, which has four employees plus contract labor. “Given our location and proximity to the water, this niche seemed like a natural fit. Thus the idea of the Splash Drone was born,” Perez said.

The Splash Drone will have an emergency flare mounted on the drone and it can hover and follow a boater in distress for 15 minutes, the co-founders said. It can drop a life preserver to a swimmer in distress, and the drone operator can be up to a half mile away. The Splash Drone will also feature a waterproof camera stabilization gimbal, a live video feed directly from the GoPro, and the Splash Drone can be flown from a phone, said Rodriguez, who has been building drones since 2007. Discovery Channel this week featured a live demo of the drone in action.

Urban Drones partnered with a Chinese manufacturer and took its concept for its “Splash Drone” directly to the public through Kickstarter, a global crowd-funding platform. Through Kickstarter, backers — 226 so far — pledge funds and are promised gifts in return for various pledge levels, such as a T-shirt at the $25 level or a ready-to-fly Splash Drone at $799. Want more bells and whistles and a flying lesson, too? That’s $1,999. At least four backers do. The campaign will end at 11:42 a.m. April 8, and then the real work begins: Getting the drones manufactured and into fans’ hands.

“The Splash Drone is the first iteration of a range of waterproof drones we will bring to market over the course of the next 18 months,” said Perez. “Our goal is to expand the use and capabilities of drones.”

See the Splash Drone Kickstarter campaign here.


Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.

March 29, 2015

Q&A: Technion's role in Israel's Startup Nation immense

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

TPeretz Laviehe Technion developed into a world-class research university out of necessity.

As President Peretz Lavie explains it, although the Israeli university’s roots date back to 1912 as an engineering school, it wasn’t until 1948 that Technion began its transformation into a leading research institution. Simply put, then-Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion believed the new state of Israel needed aeronautical expertise to power its Air force to defend the country; now aeronautics is one of the largest industrial complexes in Israel, he said.

 And that was just the beginning, Prof. Lavie said. “We have become a world class university, with 3 ½ Nobel laureates and a global presence, and we are the cornerstone of Startup Nation.”

The Technion – Israel Institute of Technology is a public research university in Haifa, Israel that offers  degrees in science and engineering, architecture, medicine, industrial management and education. With 18 academic departments and some 50 research centers, it is often grouped with  Stanford and MIT, universities that have played outsized roles in building their entrepreneurial ecosystems. Israel's movement, powered by Technion, is dubbed Startup Nation. The USB flash drive, drip irrigation, a Parkinson’s drug, the Iron Dome air defense system, the data compression algorithm used in pdfs, and instant messaging are some of the inventions developed at Technion or by alumni.

Prof. Lavie, who grew up in Israel but earned his PhD in physio-psychology (a precursor to neuroscience) at the University of Florida, joined Technion in 1975 to set up a sleep research lab. He worked his way up and became president in 2009. He’s also started two medical device companies and two medical service providers.

In 2011, a bid by a consortium of Cornell University and Technion won a competition to establish a new high-tier applied science and engineering institution in New York City. A state-of-the-art tech campus, the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech, is being built on Roosevelt Island, while the campus is currently housed in Google’s mammoth New York offices.

Technion is also establishing a technological institute in Guangdong Province, China. As part of the agreement, the Li Ka Shing Foundation will donate $130 million to Technion – the largest donation in the university’s history.

Lavie talked with the Miami Herald when he was in town earlier this month for an American Technion Society board meeting. Here are excerpts of the conversation.

Q. How did Technion become a powerhouse for high-tech?

A. In 1969, the Technion established a micro-electronics institute, when no one had heard of it. After the ‘67 war, we needed night vision devices and infrared sensors, there was no knowledge in Israel but Technion established the institute to produce the first semiconductors.  ... If you ask anyone where the high-tech sector in Israel started, everyone would say ’69 in the Technion. This is where they started to teach microelectronics, this is where semiconductors were produced, this is where it all started. …

The same year the faculty split into electrical engineering and computer science, these two are the backbone of the Israeli high tech sector.in 69 The Technion also decided to open a faculty of medicine. It was again prophetic -- the decision was made because in the future, medicine and technology would work hand in hand. This is why Israel now is an empire of medical devices.

Today, a 10 minutes’ drive from the Technion you will find Yahoo and Google and Intel and H-P and Philips and GE and now Apple, relying on Technion students and Technion graduates.

I just completed a study on companies established in the last 20 years by Technion graduates.  Of the 2,000 companies, ... 169 were established outside Israel, mostly in the U.S., the rest, more than 1,800 were in Israel. The number of jobs was 100,000, the mergers and acquisitions [activity] was $28 billion, the total money raised was $6 billion. ... And if you ask them why they are doing it, they want to change the world; it’s not the money.

Q. Sounds like you don’t have a problem with brain drain.

A. Brain drain is not an issue and I’ll tell you why. Intel is largest tech employer with 8,000 or 9,000 jobs. Intel in Israel was started by a Technion [graduate who moved back from the U.S.]. Same with Applied Materials, same with Apple, and others.

When we established a branch in New York together with Cornell, everyone said ‘oh, you will cause brain drain of Israelis to New York.’ I said ‘no, what we will do is attract second generation Israelis in the U.S., including as faculty members.

I don’t think all immigrant groups have a deep sense of responsibility. A large number of Israelis feel a lot of responsibility for Israel. Israel is a startup experience on its own; there is a shared sense of responsibility.

Q. What has Technion’s role been in the tech boom of Israel?

A. MIT did a study on universities that turned their areas into ecosystems of innovation and entrepreneurship. … MIT and Stanford were No.1 and 2, and Technion was no. 6 -- it changed the ecosystem of its country. When they asked the experts to rerate only the ones in challenging environments, Technion was no. 1.

Great universities need to attract top students, to attract top faculty, and the third is a mission. A university must have a mission. The mission is part of the Technion DNA -- To serve the country, to serve mankind. During the Russian immigration wave of the ‘90s, a wave of a million people within a span of five years, Technion stood up to the challenge. We increased the number of students by almost 30 percent in one year. We have a pre-academic center for minorities, every year we have 700 of them, and students are accepted without affirmative action; 67 percent are making it [into Technion].

Arab Israelis 10 years ago were 7 percent of the Technion students. The dropout rate was 40 percent. We started bringing the top kids from all the villages into the program, appointed them a big brother or sister, and held regular discussion groups. Fast forward 10 years, 20 percent of our students are Arab and the dropout rate is 13 percent, about the same as the Israel population. 48 percent of those students are Arab women in all the faculties.’

Q. What about overall?

A. 37 percent women. But electrical engineering is still 15-20 percent. We are trying to move that. We started programs in the high schools, k-12, and to attract girls into science, math, physics.

Q. What other factors led to Startup Nation?

A. Two major characteristics I found are characteristics of Israelis. First, risk-taking behavior. ... The army service teaches you how to take risks. ... The second one is acceptance of failure. There are many countries where failure is not an option. In Israel, failure is part of the learning curve.

Then there is the emphasis on education, a Jewish tradition. But we don’t teach the materials, we are taught how to learn; it is a lifelong experience. I hear this  from our alumni, ‘we are taught how to learn … There is not a situation where we cannot cope.’

The fourth is the government during the ‘60s had the right policy when they started to support research, in companies.

Q. How is your global expansion progressing?

A. Mayor Bloomberg, I admire him for his vision. When I met with him, I said why Technion? He said I am envious of Silicon Valley and Route 128 [in Boston] and I want New York to be the capital of technology.

We are now temporarily at Google headquarters in Chelsea, I asked Eric Schmidt why, and he said we want to be close to you. You need the nucleus of academic excellence that will attract faculty, students and customers. This is a unique to have a degree in applied science and engineering. No excuses. Its tailor made for the industries of New York. We started with The Connective Media, including a major publication. Next year we have are going to open The Healthier Life. The third one is The Built Environment, to open in 2017.

We would like to be close to you. This is the key.

.... [In China,] hopefully we will get the greenlight and start in 2017; we have appointed a leader already. Cornell and China were our first expansions, and we won’t do anymore. With 14,000 students and 600 faculty, we can’t spread ourselves too thin. But I must say we became the most courted boy on the block. We have strategic agreements with the University of Michigan, Toronto, MIT, Cornell and several leading European universities. It’s exciting."

Q. What brought you to  Miami this month?

A. I was here for a board meeting of the American Technion Society. The backbone of our support has come from the American Technion society established in 1940. Without their support we would just be another college in the Middle East. We don’t get research and development funding form the Israeli government … I travel here and crisscross the country twice a year to meet our supporters. This is amazing, the dedication, the love for our institute -- now we have third and fourth generation families that support Technion.

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg. 

See related story on Miami startup delegation's knowledge exchange in Israel as part of AJC's Project Interchange.

March 07, 2015

For South Florida firms, finding top tech talent still a challenge


e-Builder President and CEO Ron Antevy, left, and recently hired employee Lisa Ruggieri, right, play foosball in the game room of the company office in Plantation. NICK SWYTER MIAMI HERALD STAFF

With the economy growing again, local demand for senior developers and other technology experts is heating up. Some employees say salaries need to rise to keep them in South Florida.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/#storylink=cpy

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Ron Antevy knows a little something about the war for tech talent in South Florida. He’s on the front lines.

Antevy is the CEO of e-Builder, a provider of program management software for the construction industry that has been growing 30 to 40 percent a year in revenues, he said. He has hired seven people in the tech industry since January and plans to hire at least 40 more employees before year’s end.

“I feel like I am always behind,” he said. “Those really awesome software developers are the toughest to find.”

The market for tech talent is white hot nationally and locally, thanks to a recovering economy and growing entrepreneurial activity. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. unemployment rate among software developers and engineers in the United States was just 2.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014, compared with an overall rate of 5.7 percent.

  Funkhouser“It’s starting to feel like 1999 again,” said Alex Funkhouser, CEO of Miami Beach-based SherlockTalent, a staffing company that specializes in the tech industry. He says he has been seeing multiple-offer situations for the somewhat small pool of senior-level developers and systems engineers. Companies have to act faster than they are accustomed to, he said, and often have to go outside “their comfort zone” on salaries and benefits. Signing bonuses are back, too.

The competition is only going to become more acute: The Department of Labor forecasts that the United States will have 1 million more tech jobs than candidates to fill them by 2020 if trends continue.

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