Connect & Grow : Helping start ups, scale up

Connect & Grow: Helping start ups, scale up

Jaret L. Davis.

As a community of entrepreneurs who appreciate new ideas, Miami has always drawn professionals and business people looking to make a name for themselves. Today as our local technology industry continues to boom, we are known nationwide as a leader in startups.

But now our challenge is how to capitalize on this asset and take it to the next level.

The first step: We need to be better at transforming startups into scale-ups. One way to do that is by connecting the dots and building a vital community network that supports companies at all growth stages. As the county’s official economic development partnership, the Miami-Dade Beacon Council can play a key role in leading that change.

In this new rapid-fire era of technology growth, entrepreneurs are creating innovative or “disruptive” products and services that can help corporations searching for new ways to increase productivity and remain relevant.

Our newly launched Connect & Grow initiative provides the bridges needed to connect the startups to our existing corporate community.

Through that connection, we can help accelerate the growth and innovation of existing companies and incubate the disruptive ideas needed to develop a business model.

The benefits are mutual because the established company finds a way to innovate and grow its business, while the startup gets a key first adopter to test out the new technology, product or service. Ultimately, any new business knows landing that first contract is critical – one success leads to another and before you know it that startup business has developed traction.

Our first Connect & Grow innovation event with StartUP FIU provided an opportunity to show case entrepreneurs and innovators, along with their products and technologies. More than 200 entrepreneurs and local business leaders gathered at STR Miami in the Little River District to engage with innovators about products being developed locally. This is just the beginning of more events planned for 2017.

Another key step involves our efforts to identify innovation districts – clusters of entrepreneurs that gain advantages from their proximity. Our goal is to promote them, help them build on their strengths and assist them with formalizing relationships with universities and/or corporations.

During the process, we plan to track the connections so we can develop a toolkit of best practices that companies can use to optimize efforts to incorporate innovation into their traditional business models.

There are possibilities for inclusion for everyone – from the research universities that often serve as the birthplace of innovation to government partners and community organizations.

We have already started a trade and logistics accelerator with industry leaders in West Miami-Dade. Consider the potential economic impact to other target industries? What if there was a Creative Design incubator with a local fashion designer or entertainment company? Imagine a Life Sciences and Health care incubator at one of our hospitals.

The bedrock of this innovation movement starts with disrupting the status quo. Our mission is to capitalize on Miami’s strength as an entrepreneurial hub and build a stronger, more diverse economy that will benefit the entire South Florida community.

Jaret L. Davis is the Chair of the Miami-Dade Beacon Council, Miami-Dade’s Official Economic Development Partnership, and Co-Managing Shareholder of Greenberg Traurig, Miami Office.

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