Momentum in Miami: Lessons from an Emerging Startup Ecosystem


Across the country and far beyond Silicon Valley, new centers of startup activity are on the rise. Among them, Miami, Florida is one of the more exciting and dynamic cities emerging as a hub for startups. Not only are more entrepreneurs calling Miami home, but a real ecosystem is forming, complete with a new co-working and events space in the heart of Miami’s Wynwood district, investor groups with a renewed commitment to South Florida entrepreneurs, and a slew of meet-ups, conferences, and hackathons attracting students, programmers, entrepreneurs, and investors eager to be part of this transformation.

In large part, these activities have been enabled by the generous grantmaking of the Knight Foundation. From 2012 to 2014, the Knight Foundation made over 180 grants to organizations bringing entrepreneur-oriented resources and events to Miami. Last year, Anna Duning and Ricky Opaterny from the Engine team partnered with the Knight Foundation to track the progress of these projects and evaluate the state of Miami’s nascent entrepreneurial ecosystem. A summary of our findings have now been published in the report, “Catalyzing Connections: The State of Miami’s Startup Ecosystem.”

Miami still faces challenges in shoring up its talent pool and attracting adequate capital to fund and sustain new firms, but it also has unique advantages. For instance, Miami serves as an economic gateway to Latin America and has one of the most diverse populations in the country. Recognizing the city’s particular challenges as well as its strengths, the report made several key recommendations for supporters and stakeholders helping build the ecosystem, including:

  • Continue efforts to expand investment in Miami, especially beyond early- and seed-stage capital;
  • Connect Miami’s startup community to its larger corporations;
  • Build on Miami’s economic strengths, such as in leading industries and its ties to Latin America;
  • Engage local government as supporters; and,
  • Focus on talent development through education programming.

Many new efforts to bolster and inspire more startups in Miami are already underway, some in thanks to the Knight Foundation and others that have emerged organically, building on the tangible momentum in the region.

For a closer look, check out Knight Foundation’s site, “Igniting Miami’s Startup Ecosystem” and a new resource for everything startup in Miami,