Tech Bytes: Synapse gears up for next Innovation Summit 2019

Medical tech executive Scott Minniear discovered the Tampa Bay Technology Incubator at the Innovation Summit in March. He quickly realized NeuX Technologies Inc., where he is President and CEO, was a good fit for the incubator at USF Connect in USF Research Park.

So NeuX Technologies -- a health and wellness company focused on chronic pain, musculoskeletal injuries and conditions -- has joined the incubator growing successful companies through a University of South Florida initiative.

Their story is just one coming to light in the aftermath of the summit organized by Synapse, a nonprofit working to build connections in the bustling Tampa Bay entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Now Synapse is making plans for next year’s event January 23 and 24 at Amalie Arena in downtown Tampa. It is soliciting feedback and speaker nominations while planning to involve other innovations throughout the area. Its goal is to expand the event into more like a week, leading up to the Gasparilla weekend.

“We want people to understand that innovation lives here,” says Brian Kornfeld, Synapse’s Co-Founder. Guests listen to speakers at Innovation Summit 2018 at Amalie Arena.

Lauren Prager, VP of Communications and Programming, adds: “We want to make sure we can showcase the real quality of life.”

Throughout the year, there will be smaller events to keep the momentum going.

What’s new and different for 2019? Two full days of exhibitors, Kornfeld says. It also means two full days of programming, which translates into expanded opportunities to partner with other groups, more innovation challenges and pitch opportunities, and increased networking.

Synapse wants to create opportunities to connect through a lounge where investors and entrepreneurs can meet. “Last year we saw multiple companies get and close deals during the Innovation Summit,” Kornfeld says. “This year we want to make sure that is a lot more intentional.”

The online platform launched at the event earlier this year has nearly 1,000 signed up, with some making quick connections.

Kornfeld continues to be bullish on Tampa Bay.

“We’re changing the narrative, a little bit of the Tampa Bay Area. We’re helping enable the world,” he says. “The Tampa Bay region is open for business. It’s open for innovation.” 

Things are heating up. “We’re hitting that inflection point,” he continues. “If you’re a part of the community, enjoy this excitement. If you’re not, it’s time for you to get on board.”

Registration opens Wednesday, August 1, for the summit. Visit to sign up as an exhibitor, nominate speakers, buy discounted tickets, or to simply check it out. Speakers mingle before the Growing an Inclusive Innovation Ecosystem in Florida breakout session.

More than 5,000 are expected to attend, up from 3,200 in March. The number of exhibitors is projected at more than 350, compared to 250 this year.

“If we do grow beyond that,” Kornfeld says, “We will cap it at some point.”

The summit will span a number of industries including blockchain, fintech, and cryptocurrency, medical innovations, defense, augmented reality/virtual reality/machine learning, Internet of Things, robotics and STEM [science, technology, engineering and math], entertainment, culinary and hospitality.

Bring on the hackers

In other tech news, Tampa Bay is participating in the National Day of Civic Hacking Saturday, August 11. The day unites civic technologists with local government, community agencies and other organizations to work on 21st-century solutions to their challenges.

In Tampa, the event will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Industrious Office, 401 E. Jackson St., Suite 3300. In St. Petersburg, the meeting will be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Academy at Suncoast Developers Guild, 2220 Central Ave.

Guests sit outside during lunch provided by Inside the Box Catering at Amalie Arena.Three projects for Tampa include developing an intelligent chatbot for Metropolitan Ministries to direct those in need to services, enabling nonprofits and companies to share information with those in need more easily, and helping the newly created Pasco Agents for Change in its efforts to improve diversity and inclusion in Pasco County public schools. In St. Petersburg, the focus will be on assisting The Greenhouse, a platform for the community’s Grow Smarter Initiative, and Arts Conservatory for Teens, a grant tracking database/system.

The event is open to the public and there is no cost to participate. If you’re not tech savvy, you can come and contribute in others ways, like with ideas or design skills.

Online registration is available for this event by Code for Tampa Bay Brigade, the local affiliate of Code for America.

More Tampa Bay tech news

• The mobile technology startup Washlava has won first place in the Electrolux Future of Laundry Challenge in China. The company, which launched its first coinless laundromat in Carrollwood a year ago, was among 47 entries in the contest. It will now have opportunities to discuss partnering with the Electrolux in China and beyond. Through a patent-pending technology platform, Washlava enables laundromat customers to pay with an app instead of with quarters or credit cards.

• Need help building your sales pipeline? Bernie Borges, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of the digital sales company Vengreso, is teaching on the subject as part of USF Connect’s Seminar Series. The one-hour class, “How to Use Linkedin to Build Your Sales Pipeline” is slated at 3 p.m. Tuesday, August 7, at the Oak View Room at 3802 Spectrum Blvd., Tampa. The event is free. Online registration is available.

• Company executives can get up to speed on cybersecurity with a two-day, in-class certificate program offered by USF. Scheduled August 22 and 23, the classes cover identifying threats, managing operational hazards, and keeping your brand reputation. Offered by the Muma College of Business and the Florida Center for Cybersecurity, the program helps executives secure their data with a 10-module course providing practical tools that can be applied quickly. The class costs $4,995. Learn more.

• Lance Raab, Investor-Partner at Florida Funders, and Santo Cannone, former COO of ConnectWise, are the Tampa Bay Wave’s new Entrepreneurs-in-Residence. The join a mentor network dedicated to guiding the Wave’s Accelerator members.

• Tampa Bay Tech is accepting nominations for its 15th annual awards until 5 p.m. on Friday, August 10. Nominations can be made online for individuals and companies, with no submission or category limits. Individual awards will be given in the following categories: People, Technology Executive of the Year, Technology Leader of the Year, and Emerging Technology Leader of the Year. Company categories are: Excellence in Service, Technology Company of the Year, Technology Project of the Year, Workplace Culture Program of the Year, Emerging Technology Company of the Year, Meetup of the Year, Student Workforce Initiative of the Year, Tech Innovation Team of the Year, and Industry/Academic Partnership of the Year. Follow this link to make a nomination. The awards ceremony is planned from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, November 9, at Armature Works in downtown Tampa. 
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Read more articles by Cheryl Rogers.

Cheryl Rogers is a freelance writer and editor who enjoys writing about careers. An ebook author, she also writes Bible Camp Mystery series that shares her faith. She is publisher of New Christian Books Online Magazine and founder of the Mentor Me Career Network, a free online community, offering career consulting, coaching and career information. Now a wife and mother, Cheryl discovered her love of writing as a child when she became enthralled with Nancy Drew mysteries. She earned her bachelor's degree in Journalism and Sociology from Loyola University in New Orleans. While working at Loyola's Personnel Office, she discovered her passion for helping others find jobs. A Miami native, Cheryl moved to the Temple Terrace area in 1985 to work for the former Tampa Tribune