During this week’s Innovate MIA, the LAB Miami has played host to a few important events, including this past weekend’s HackDay and yesterday’s Wayra Global demoDay 2012. Located in Miami’s energetic Wynwood neighborhood, the 10,000-square-foot coworking space is being created to foster an environment of collaboration, innovation and community.
The LAB Miami won’t be unaccompanied in its endeavors. In fact, at the AVCC today, Matt Haggman, Miami Program Director of the Knight Foundation, announced that the organization is leading a US$650,000 investment round for the LAB. The Knight Foundation is investing a total of $250,000, the remaining funds being contributed by Marco Giberti, Faquiry Diaz-Cala, Boris Hirmas Said and Daniel Echavarria.
The LAB Miami will open its doors in January 2013, welcoming innovators, developers and entrepreneurs from South Florida and all over the world. It will offer an in-house community of mentors, investors and executives to guide what its leaders hope will be a diverse group of tenants, including startups, designers, artists, academics and more.
Wilfredo Fernandez, Co-founder of the LAB Miami, revealed a few details about the endeavor: “We have seen a surge of interest and a need from the local community for a space where local entrepreneurs can work and learn collaboratively to spark innovative ideas. To help, we also plan to provide the programming and mentorship that startups and fast growing businesses need to scale and be successful.” When I spoke with him during HackDay on Sunday, he noted the technological focus he hopes the space will have as well as plans to offer courses, workshops and other more direct forms of support.
On the part of the Knight Foundation, Haggman pointed out that this investment comes as a result of the organization’s continued commitment to supporting infrastructure, organizations, events and other initiatives surrounding innovation and entrepreneurship.
Moving forward, Haggman said, there are two things to keep in mind in maintaining and building Miami’s ecosystem. First, the network must be a real network composed of multiple individuals and organizations – not concentrated in the work of just a few major players and specific leaders. Second, entrepreneurs are ultimately responsible for leading the way ahead. Organizations like the Knight Foundation, universities and government entities, of course, will accompany them along the way.