« News: Global entrepreneurship nonprofit Endeavor chooses Miami for 1st US expansion | Main | Coral Gables startup Adsmovil becoming part of Cisneros Group »

Start-up City: Miami will explore 'urban tech'

Start-UpCityMiami-InvitationNext month, The Atlantic will launch Start-Up City: Miami, the inaugural event in a new series of day-long programs exploring the emerging models of “urban tech” taking root in cities around the world. The free event will be Feb. 13 at the New World Center in Miami Beach, producted  in partnership with the Creative Class Group and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Richard FloridaStart-Up City: Miami will explore and ask: What short- and long-term strategies will attract entrepreneurs and start-ups to Miami? And what could the future of Miami be?  “This conference is completely unique. It’s designed to both showcase and deepen Miami's ongoing urban transformation and learn what it takes to evolve from arts and culture based transformation to technology transformation,” said Richard Florida, an urban studies expert, author and Atlantic senior editor who is spearheading and curating the conference. (Pictured outside Panther Coffee in Wynwood last year.)

The program will draw together leading voices in the urban planning and community building arenas, including Tony Hsieh, Zappos founder and CEO who has been deeply involved in Las Vegas’ start-up ecosystem, Steve Case, chairman of the Start-up America Partnership and founder of AOL;  and Brad Feld, a TechStars founder and author of Start-Up Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City.

“Part of our strategy is providing compelling convenings for people and strong opportunities to connect and to learn,” said Matt Haggman, the Knight Foundation’s Miami program director. “I’ve been talking to Richard Florida for some time about doing a one-day conference focusing on Miami and all the different things that have come together to make this a really promising moment for the startup community in Miami to really make some big strides. … I think it is going to be a really compelling, interesting, thought provoking day-long conversation.”

Other confirmed speakers and panelists, many of them from South Florida, include: Manny Medina, founder of Terremark and an investor who is developing a major tech conference for South Florida; Adriana Cisneros, vice chairman of the board and director of strategy for the Cisneros Group of Companies; Susan Amat, executive director of The Launch Pad at the University of Miami and founder of Launch Pad Tech; Juan Pablo Cappello, attorney, co-founder of idea.me and  investor; former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz; Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Miami and urban design expert;  Samuel Arbesman, senior scholar in research and policy, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation;  Niesen Kasdin, former Miami Beach Mayor; Fernando Fabre, president of Endeavor, a global nonprofit that promotes high-impact entrepreneurship and is coming to Miami; Melissa Krinzman, founder and managing Director of Venture Architects;  Juan Diego Calle, co-founder and CEO of .CO Internet; and Marcelo Ballona, founder of Submarino, who led the largest tech IPO in Brazil’s history.

To register for the conference: http://startupcitymiami.eventbrite.com/#
Program website: http://events.theatlantic.com/start-up-city-miami/2013/

Florida splits his time between Miami Beach, Toronto and New York, is also the director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto and Global Research professor at NYU, where he is currently teaching a Global City course in Abu Dhabi, and co-founder and editor-at-large of Atlantic Cities.

Here is more of what Florida shared with me about the conference:

Q. Why do you think a conference like this is needed in Miami now?

A. The idea for the conference came from a talk I gave last winter in downtown Miami.  At the talk, I challenged our city (by that I mean the region and metro broadly) that we had done a fantastic job of city-building, downtown transformation, creating great neighborhoods, and using arts, culture and shopping to fuel urban transformation. But there is one additional step we needed to take if we really want to be a great global city. Great global cities are more than real estate and arts and  culture, fun and lifestyle. From London and Paris to New York and San Francisco, great global cities are "idea capitals."  I challenged the city and said this is the next step we need to take.  That requires being a place that generates and propagates world class ideas.  The conference is one small step in this direction and we hope to build from it over time toward something like the broader ideas conference for entrepreneurs, urban transformers, city-builders, place-makers and all those with a stake in a startup city. I like to think of Miami as it becoming akin to an Art Basel for ideas around urban transformation, city building, creative place-making and startup cities. Miami is an evolving laboratory of these activities and can serve as an example and laboratory to the world.  Miami needs something like this and the world needs it too.

Q.  Can you give me a couple of thoughts on where you see Miami's startup ecosystem now?

A. It is just emerging. But it is the next step in the region's urban and economic transformation.  I am doing more research on how Miami stacks up against other cities and regions now with my research team at the University of Toronto's Martin Prosperity Institute. I'd actually like to get a project up and running on the subject here. One of my dreams is to connect some kind of research institute or think tank – a think and "do tank" - with really smart talented young people as "fellows" in place here in Miami. I like the model which the city and region has pioneered with the New World Symphony and New Arts where alongside  performances and shows, young people come to Miami to work and develop their talents as careers. I'd love to see something like this happen with urban transformation, city-building and startup cities, where a group of fellows from around the world come to Miami to learn more about the field and apply their talents here. Combined with events like Startup City, this would help to build up our capability as an Idea Capital.

Q.  Have you curated other conferences similar to this for Atlantic? What has or can come out of a conference like that?

A. This conference is completely unique. It’s designed to both showcase and deepen Miami's ongoing urban transformation and learn what it takes to evolve from arts and culture based transformation to technology transformation.  It is designed to be the signature gathering in this space.  It combines three key skills sets and unique capabilities. One, Miami's unique position and evolution in urban transformation. Two, the Atlantic's ability to put on cutting edge, world-class conferences and events like the Aspen Ideas Festival ,which is a partnership between The Atlantic and the Aspen Institute.  And three, this conference leverages  my long experiences in urban transformation, place–making, city building and urban entrepreneurship. Put all three together, and the idea here is to build something like Aspen Ideas or Davos or TED for start up cities, place-makng and city building.  

Q. What can we learn from Miami's arts and urbanization movements here that can be applied to building a tech ecosystem?

A. That's the focus of the conference and where we want to head. But what we know is that arts and culture tend to come first.  They attract the first phase of city builders and urban transformers.  Then technology starts to nest. We see it happening everywhere from San Francisco to New York and London.  But those other cities have more technology assets, more talent and were already great idea capitals. We're going to have to work harder here. But with what is happening on the ground, with the people, technologies and talent we have here -– and with the conference and what we want to build and work on coming out of the conference -- we can make it happen here.

Q. What are some highlights of the upcoming conference in your view?

A. The people!  We are bringing folks like Tony Hseih, the young amazing founder of Zappos who is transforming downtown Las Vegas into a startup hub, Steve Case who founded AOL and is a leader in theStartup movement, Brad Feld who wrote the book on this and many others who have researched how this has occurred in New York and London and the key people in our own startup, place-making and city-building scenes.  This is the kickoff of what we can and will do.

I could not be more excited about the conference and what is happening in our city!  I am so very happy that the Knight Foundation has helped me be more effective in helping to move this agenda forward.  The ongoing urban transformation of Miami is truly astounding –- something we need to learn more about and deepen and something that can and will be a resource for cities, city-builders and place-makers around the world.