Start-Up City: A community forum on 'urban tech,' building a hub

By Nancy Dahlberg

Can Miami become one of the great cities of innovation?

Richard Florida, an urban-affairs expert and now a South Florida resident much of the year, brought in an all-star lineup of national and local thought leaders Wednesday to explore how to build a robust technology community in Miami — and learn from the experiences of other hubs.

More than 1,100 people registered forStart-Up City: Miami, a free, day-long seminar presented by The Atlantic magazine, Atlantic Cities, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. It was held at the New World Center in Miami Beach, where the main performance hall was full and lobbies were buzzing much of the day. Watch parties took place in Miami and around the country.

“Look at what’s happening in San Francisco, Berlin, Tech City in London, New York. The shift to urban tech is happening. Cities are incubators of innovation,” said Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class. “In Miami, we’ve made these investments in arts and culture. Now is the time for the next step.”

The conference builds on the momentum to accelerate the Miami tech community. The Knight Foundation’s Miami office, led by Matthew Haggman, pictured at left, has already committed several million dollars to projects aimed at fueling entrepreneurship, including bringing in the global nonprofit Endeavor; investing in the co-working campus LAB Miami; and sponsoring dozens of events around town, including Start-Up City. Miami-Dade County and the Miami Downtown Development Authority have invested $1.5 million in Launch Pad Tech, a new downtown accelerator.A wave of co-working spaces catering to entrepreneurs has swept into Miami’s urban core.

“We need to stop thinking of landing an IBM, and instead think about incubating the next group of entrepreneurial startups who will create the technology and solutions of tomorrow,” said Manny Diaz, former mayor of Miami, in his opening remarks.

When it comes to building startup communities, the keynote speaker, Tony Hsieh, the CEO of, knows a thing or two. He has been on a mission to build one in downtown Las Vegas — what he calls the “the anti-strip.”



About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit