Miami – Oct. 25, 2016 – The LAB Miami, a co-working space for innovators and entrepreneurs, today announced plans to expand with the launch of LAB.Ventures and LAB.ID. The initiatives will help local entrepreneurs build and scale their ideas by fostering relationships between Miami’s startup community and established corporations. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is investing $1.1 million to support The LAB’s evolution.
The LAB Miami opened its 10,000-square-foot campus in 2012, offering co-working space and community programming with initial funding from Knight Foundation. Since then, more than 50,000 people have attended The LAB’s events and over 150 startups have launched there. Now, The LAB Miami will launch a venture builder named LAB.Ventures, which will work with entrepreneurs, engineers and other talent to test and build promising business ideas. The program aims to incubate several startups by 2019, the majority of which will be run by women and minorities. It will also launch LAB.ID, which will use educational and community engagement programming to encourage greater collaboration and innovation between startups and established businesses.
While Miami ranks among the most entrepreneurial cities in the U.S., entrepreneurs in South Florida often struggle to find the capital, knowledge and other resources they need to grow. The LAB Miami’s evolution into a venture builder, through LAB.Ventures and LAB.ID, will enable it to address these issues by leveraging new connections between Miami’s established corporations and its young, growing startup community. Together, these programs will help startups and entrepreneurs access a larger market, and help corporations accelerate their innovation initiatives.
Knight funding will be used to expand The LAB’s educational and community activities. The LAB is raising additional private funding to support its expansion.
The LAB Miami has hired Thomas “Tigre” Wenrich as its new CEO to lead the effort. Wenrich is an accomplished investor and entrepreneur who helped Open English, a startup for online English language learning services, raise over $120 million in venture capital funding while serving as its founding CFO/COO. He is an active angel investor and startup mentor. Prior to Open English, he was a partner at The Boston Consulting Group, a leading strategy consultancy to the world’s largest companies, where he worked for 16 years.
“The LAB Miami has proven itself to be a pioneer and a catalyst for change,” said Matt Haggman, Miami program director for Knight Foundation. “Its latest initiatives will accelerate the momentum of Miami’s innovation ecosystem by building bridges between entrepreneurial and corporate communities, which will lead to more investment, partnerships and jobs.”
“By educating local corporate leaders on the latest trends in the digital economy, showcasing innovative new startups, and sharing best practices for corporate innovation, The LAB Miami will help businesses address the innovation challenge and will help local startups access the corporate market, enabling more ventures to grow and scale,” said Wenrich. “We are thrilled to continue to work with Knight Foundation on these shared goals of innovation and inclusion as we launch the next phase of The LAB.”
Funding for The LAB Miami is part of Knight Foundation’s efforts to invest in Miami’s emerging innovators and entrepreneurs as a tool to build community, while fostering talent and expanding economic opportunity. Over the past three years Knight has made more than 200 investments in entrepreneurship in South Florida.
More information on The LAB Miami can be found at thelabmiami.com.
About The LAB Miami
The LAB Miami is a creative campus for entrepreneurs and innovators in the heart of the Wynwood Arts District. Miami’s original co-working space, The LAB Miami is a 10,000-square-foot warehouse converted to an event venue and collision point for Miami’s forward-thinking minds. Learn from the best, Act on your inspiration and Build great companies.
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.
Thomas Wenrich, CEO, The LAB Miami, [email protected], 305-978-6372
Anusha Alikhan, Communications Director, Knight Foundation, [email protected], 305-908-2646.