Microsoft is setting up shop in downtown Miami to engage with area startups and expand the tech titan's reach into Latin America.
Sanket Akerkar, vice president of Developer and Platform Evangelism at Microsoft, announced on May 2 that the company is opening its first U.S.-based Microsoft Innovation Center (MIC) in the Floridian metropolis. Akerkar said in a blog post, "The center will be a state-of-the-art facility that offers a comprehensive set of technology, tools and services to startups, governments, students, faculty and the greater Miami community to help foster innovation, collaboration and economic growth."
Currently, there are over 100 MICs across the globe, including Australia, Brazil, Uganda, Russia and a healthy concentration in India. The Miami center will be the first of its kind in the United States.
In Miami, the company is teaming with Miami-Dade County, the city of Miami and Venture Hive, a Miami-based startup accelerator and incubator, to help locals strengthen their IT skills with training and technology workshops.
Carlos Gimenez, mayor of Miami-Dade County, said in a statement that the facility "has all of the leading-edge tools and technologies needed to motivate our citizens to innovate and grow."
There will be opportunities for Miami-based startups as well. Akerkar said the tech center will "provide entrepreneurs, prospective startups and governments access to networking opportunities and potential talent for future job opportunities."
A Southeast Silicon Valley?
South Florida may be synonymous with fun in the sun. However, Microsoft's choice of location reflects the region's high-tech ambitions, according to Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado. "Having the first Microsoft Innovation Center in the U.S. located in Miami demonstrates that our technology community is not only growing, it's thriving," he said in a statement.
Akerkar expects the center to have wide-reaching effects. "By building the center in the heart of Miami and making it available to the people, especially youth and students, we're helping empower the city to become a more prosperous place to live and work," he said.
The effects may be felt beyond U.S. borders. The new center "will also serve as a gateway connecting the U.S. to the Latin America region, providing Latin American industries and businesses access to a pool of dependable and tech-savvy interns and potential full-time employees," added Akerkar.
The Miami MIC has ties to another Microsoft project called CityNext. Similar to IBM's Smarter Cities initiative, CityNext is "focused on accelerating innovation in urban areas by harnessing the ideas, energy and expertise of local people to create a healthier, safer and more sustainable place to live," explained Microsoft in a statement.
The company also revealed that another MIC is headed to the nation's capital, among other American sites. "Miami's MIC will be the first of many MICs to open across the U.S. in the coming year, including one located in the Washington, D.C., area," stated Akerkar.