Knight Foundation, FIU, Creative Class Group team up to expand innovation research

Miami Herald - April 4, 2017

As South Florida leaders work to develop a tech and startup ecosystem, they find that hard numbers are tough to come by. Startups come and go, current tech employment can be difficult to quantify and angel investors are plentiful but not always active. So how do you see what you have, measure progress and chart the way forward?

To that end, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation on Wednesday has invested $1.2 million into the Miami Urban Future Initiative, a joint project of Florida International University’s College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts and the Creative Class Group. The Miami Urban Future Initiative aims to fill an existing research gap on economic, entrepreneurial, creative and technological assets in the region spanning Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

Matt Haggman, the Knight Foundation’s Miami program director who is spearheading efforts to build an entrepreneurship hub, said the Miami Urban Future Initiative will provide community leaders with the information they need to “help craft a strategic direction for the city that stirs new ideas, illuminates challenges and opportunities and helps leaders avoid decisions based on outdated assumptions.” Over the past four years, Knight has committed more than $25 million into about 200 entrepreneurship organizations or projects in South Florida.

The initiative combines the capabilities of FIU CARTA, led by Dean Brian Schriner, and the Creative Class Group, founded by urbanist and author Richard Florida. It will leverage existing FIU researchers and experts, as well as business leaders, economic development practitioners and other experts across the region to discuss the challenges facing Miami and strategies to tackle them.

The Miami Urban Future Initiative will expand up ongoing research about Miami’s economy and the makeup of Miami’s “Creative Class” that is already being conducted by FIU and the Creative Class Group, Florida said. It will also host a fellows program to bring the best and brightest urban thinkers, practitioners and researchers to Miami.

“Miami finds itself at a critical inflection point,” Florida said. “Our city builders and leaders need a road map to grow our economy.”

The initiative will be housed at FIU CARTA’s planned facility in Mana Wynwood in order to be closer to the heart of the ecosystem and an executive director will be hired, Florida said. The initiative is seeking matching support to complement Knight Foundation funding. For more information, visit: http://carta.fiu.edu/creativecity/miami-urban-future-initiative/

“Partnering with Knight Foundation and the Creative Class Group to deliver the work of the Miami Urban Future Initiative is our way of helping to accelerate Miami’s ongoing transformation and create solutions to the challenges facing our region,” FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg said in the announcement.