Synapse Summit 2022 and Florida’s Vibrant Innovation Economy

5and The 2022 annual Synapse Summit returned to Tampa’s Amalie Arena in February, bringing together Florida’s entrepreneurial ecosystem – startup founders, funders, tech talent, executives, educational institutions, supporting organizations and government entities local/regional/state, especially economic development councils. Synapse Florida, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, expertly designs the annual event to celebrate, discover and engage Florida’s innovation community. Acting as a powerful catalyst, Synapse brings everyone in the community together to enable chance encounters, meaningful dialogues, opportunities to brainstorm, be inspired, and learn from speakers and panelists.

This year was another resounding success with 5,662 attendees, 185 speakers, 311 exhibitors, 51 sessions united in one large community of practice dedicated to transforming Florida from Sunshine State to Startup State and becoming a leading innovation hub. in the country. The event was an opportunity to shine a light on the wide range of startup efforts happening across the state, hear from cross-industry innovation leaders, and educate through small-scale sessions. groups on hot innovation topics including AI (Artificial Intelligence), Blockchain, Cybersecurity, FinTech, Metaverse, and NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens).

According to Crunchbase, seed funding for Florida startups exceeded $1 billion in 2021. It’s no secret or surprise that Florida attracts major investors, experienced founders and a wealth of talent to energize and support the growing momentum of the state’s innovation economy.

Some highlights of the Summit:


FinTech: solutions for every age and every stage—The panel explored what makes Florida’s innovation ecosystem uniquely suited to the explosion of the FinTech industry. One panelist in particular, MacGardner, founder and educational director, FinLit Tech and a Certified Financial Planner, discussed his passion for the importance of financial literacy and his efforts to make financial literacy a technology to create the tools and resources needed to bring financial literacy to more people. people of all ages around the world. Moderator Michael Wiemer, Director, FinTech Center, The University of South Florida discussed its efforts to create a center of engagement and activity for business students employing cutting-edge research, world-class teaching, business engagement, experiential learning and industry internships in the FinTech sector by engaging in the center’s business incubator and acceleration activities as part of their educational journey with USF.


How Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are Disrupting Legacy Industries—Panel discussion on how industries such as insurance, healthcare, finance and security are spending billions on data, machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to meet the demands of users and remain competitive. Moderator Linda Olson, CEO/President/Founder, TampaBay WaVE — a 501c3 nonprofit that has supported more than 300 tech startups since 2013 with an accelerator program, coworking, and other services — spoke to select Florida businesses to find out how they’re using these new tools to shape the future of their business. Specifically Bruce Lucas, The founder and CEO of Slide, a comprehensive insurtech company, explained how they use technology that leverages artificial intelligence and big data to hyper-personalize, optimize and streamline every part of the insurance process.


The new world of blockchain for business—The session went beyond the issue of viability, multiple blockchain integration, interoperability, enterprise node staking and real-time payments. Business interest in blockchain is now evident with 81 of the top 100 public companies using the technology. Moderator Rosa Shores, CEO, co-founder, Block spacesa B2B integration platform connecting business applications to blockchain networks – discussed the many ways major banks and institutions are leveraging blockchain to enhance their legacy systems.


Drivers of Prosperity: The Role of High-Tech Universities in Florida Innovation [Hybrid]—Florida is home to a powerful state university system. The University of South Florida, University of Central Florida, and University of Florida and their signature partnership approach are at the forefront of innovation. Together, these institutions form the Florida High Tech Corridor, an organization designed to amplify the impact of higher education on the regional high-tech economy by building meaningful relationships between industry, academia, and community. Paul SohlCorridor CEO, moderated a discussion with the presidents of the three universities on the role of universities in Florida’s economic development and how universities prepare the next generation of innovators.


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