eMerge Americas Helps Ignite Miami’s Tech Scene

Melissa and Manny Medina in front of an eMerge Americas sign at eMerge Americas 2024

Skift Take

Most conferences impact the host destination. Some can influence an industry.

Created to be the South by Southwest of Florida’s tech industry, eMerge Americas hopes to help turn Miami into an international hub for technology companies.

Approximately 20,000 attendees from more than 50 countries gathered at the Miami Beach Convention Center in April for this year’s conference, which celebrated its 10th anniversary. eMerge also organizes year-round executive summits, startup pitch competitions, webinars, and a global accelerator program.

The idea dates back to 2012. Manny Medina, a Cuban immigrant, had started Terremark Worldwide, a data center company. Hiring tech talent in Miami was a challenge. He and his daughter Melissa established a steering committee of more than 40 leaders across multiple industries. 

For the first conference in 2014, eMerge Americas drew 5,000 entrepreneurs, innovators, executives, government leaders, and academics to the Miami Beach Convention Center. 

“We had a lot of pushback and many people called us crazy, but we also had a core group of supporters who believed in the idea. We have deep roots in Miami and believed that it had, and has, all the elements to become a thriving tech hub,” said Melissa Medina, now president and CEO of eMerge Americas.

Miami’s Advantages

Miami’s weather, the global accessibility of Miami International Airport, and low taxes have been factors in its growth. “Florida is one of very few states that does not have a state income tax. Furthermore, Florida has no personal income tax on business income, a low corporate income tax rate, and no state-level property tax,” said Medina.  

In addition, Miami has more than 1,100 multinational businesses in Miami-Dade County alone. Most of its residents are minorities, with over 100 countries represented:  “Miami is a city built by immigrants and inherently has an entrepreneurial spirit in its DNA,” she said. 

The Global Entrepreneurship Network reports that Miami’s start-up ecosystem value increased by 160% in 2022, with early-stage funding increasing by 64%.

The Miami Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has invested $1 million in the Miami Dade College Artificial Intelligence program, the first college in America to offer a degree in AI. The DDA also offers grants of up to $75k for founders who want to move to Miami to build their businesses.

Miami has been designated a Tech Hub by the Biden-Harris administration, with a focus on climate tech. This designation will allow Miami to pursue $50 – $75 million in government funding.

Photo credit: Melissa and Manny Medina in front of an eMerge Americas sign at eMerge Americas 2024 / eMerge Americas