Much of the talk in Monday morning’s eMerge Americas Techweek summits was about creating communities around innovation. While a big mission of eMerge Americas is to put Miami on the map as place for tech, lessons can be learned from elsewhere, even the side of a mountain.
Jeff Rosenthal, one of the founders of the Summit Series and Summit Powder Mountain, said the founders began by building an event series, a younger hipper TED or Davos, he said, to create a Camp David for innovation – bringing together luminaries like Richard Branson, as well as artists, astronauts, startup founders, nonprofit leaders. The success of that led them to buy 10,000 acres on the side of Powder Mountain, with $50 million in funding, to create an innovation village of the future. Crazy? You bet, since they knew nothing about the real estate business, incorporating a village and the finance side of an endeavor this big. But as entrepreneurs do, they are figuring it out. Their investors received homes on the mountain, quite literally tying them to the success of the project.
But some of the infrastructure like utilities and roads have already been laid, and they are breaking ground on the first homes this summer. The village, with hotels and restaurants will be open to the public, and to create diversity, there will be hostels, affordable housing options and single family homes no larger than 4,000 square feet with most being under 1,500 square feet.
Rosenthal sees a lot of opportunity in Miami for an innovation community. “There a lot of wealth, some great talent and a terrific creative class, he said, and what it needs is a mixing of these cultures. “Gather people around the table, gather people together, so you can then go and build this together.”