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Why You Should Build Your Tech Business in Greater Fort Lauderdale, FL

Entrepreneurs and businesses are finding the support they need to succeed in Greater Fort Lauderdale.

By Kim Madlom on October 14, 2022

The Alan B. Levan | NSU Broward Center of Innovation in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Jeff Adkins

Home to the most startup activity in the U.S., Greater Fort Lauderdale is a thriving tech hub generating innovations that are changing lives.

“South Florida is the hottest region in the nation for new company startups and investment attracting entrepreneurs, and Greater Fort Lauderdale is right in the middle of the action,” says John Wensveen, chief innovation officer at Nova Southeastern University (NSU) and executive director of the Alan B. Levan NSU Broward Center of Innovation (Levan Center).

“Traditionally, South Florida has been known for sunshine, beaches and cruise lines and forever will be,” Wensveen says. “With this said, South Florida is an emerging region for innovation, technology and entrepreneurship, resulting in the establishment of homegrown entrepreneurs and the attraction of entrepreneurs from out of state.”

From the development of the smartphone to the first PC, Greater Fort Lauderdale has a long legacy of innovation. The region offers a critical mass of talent, standout research assets and a network of resources supporting entrepreneurial companies’ launch, development and growth. The area has become a hub for emerging enterprises with growing innovation-driven sectors, such as life sciences and technology. Companies including Citrix, Hotwire Communications, Chewy and SiriusXM are innovating in Greater Fort Lauderdale.

Entrepreneurial companies in the region are drawing billions in venture investment. In 2020, 219 firms in South Florida attracted $2.2 billion in venture funding, a 500% increase in dollars from just five years earlier. And with those companies comes talent.

Visitors gather during Pitch Night at The Alan B. Levan | NSU Broward Center of Innovation in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Jeff Adkins

Tech Worker Magnet 

“What we saw during and after the pandemic was that tech workers want to live here,” says Ben Wesley, chair of South Florida TechGateway, a public-private partnership that works to attract and retain technology business, capital and talent.

“We are pulling people out of the Northeast and West Coast. The net inflows are impressive.”

In addition to chairing the TechGateway, Wesley is the external affairs manager for Florida Power & Light, which supplements the state’s business and recruitment efforts through its PoweringFlorida economic development initiative. PoweringFlorida is among the assets that help bring investment to the region. 

South Florida has emerged as one of the world’s technology centers of excellence. The TechGateway promotes the powerhouse region and develops and attracts globally recognized talent, entrepreneurs, educators and capital investors. 

Wesley notes that 2020 and 2021 data from LinkedIn analyzed by Axios shows the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area experienced a year-to-year increase of more than 15% in the number of tech workers.

“These numbers support our slogan, ‘Work in the cloud, live in the sun,'” Wesley says.

Entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to an audience during the Incubate Pitch Night at The Alan B. Levan | NSU Broward Center of Innovation in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Jeff Adkins

Formula for Success 

Other resources supporting entrepreneurs and innovators include the Levan Center, a first-of-its-kind, 54,000-square-foot theme park for entrepreneurs that is designed to be an economic and education development engine. Strategically located in the heart of South Florida, the Levan Center acts as a hub that links the growing South Florida innovation ecosystem with local, regional, national and international impact.

The Levan Center is focused on six key outcomes: breakthrough ideation, creation of new technologies, talent skills pipeline to support emerging tech sectors, company formation, job creation and scaling of early-stage and young startup companies.

“This is the formula for success driving economic development and economic prosperity for Fort Lauderdale,” Wensveen says. “The Levan Center is an incubator and an accelerator for ideas, new business startups and expansion of established businesses with the ability to scale, ultimately achieving merger, acquisition or global expansion status.”

The Levan Center is focused on targeted industries that support South Florida’s growth as a region and is taking a leap forward to focus on what is defined as “new economies.” Wensveen says the growing population of innovators, entrepreneurs, funders and industry players is met with increased access to infrastructure, resources and networks, ultimately resulting in success stories.

“Fort Lauderdale has let the world know that we are open for business, providing attractive opportunities for the right ideas,” he says. “One of Fort Lauderdale’s key hidden gems is the ability to network with other like-minded innovators who are all interested in building a new innovation ecosystem that will ultimately drive the economy in a positive direction.”

If you’d like to learn more about the Greater Fort Lauderdale Region, check out the latest edition of Livability: Greater Fort Lauderdale

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