South Florida designated a federal ‘Tech Hub’ for climate resilience
Heatwave over a city, bright sun, global warming, urban heat island. Generative AI technology

Heatwave over a city, bright sun, global warming, urban heat isl
Getting on the list isn’t just an honorary accomplishment. It opens the area to upwards of $75M in federal grants.

South Florida efforts to defend against sea level rise and other environmental challenges could gain additional support from the federal government, thanks to a new designation the region just received.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced that the region — inclusive of Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe Counties — is among 31 inaugural “Tech Hubs” nationwide.

Getting on the list isn’t just an honorary accomplishment. It opens the area to upwards of $75 million in federal grants.

Miami-Dade, the state’s most populous county, will lead the effort atop the South Florida Climate Resilience Tech Hub, a consortium of local governments, businesses, universities and organizations. Its goal: to develop and commercialize scalable climate change-focused innovations, from those aimed at addressing extreme heat and fish-killing algal blooms to developing infrastructural answers to flooding and Florida’s growing dependence on electric vehicles.

Miami-Dade was the lead applicant for the federal Tech Hub designation, which the EDA announced Monday. The Tech Hub program is authorized through the CHIPS and Science Act, which will invest directly in high-potential U.S. regions in order to transform them into globally competitive innovation centers.

South Florida’s Tech Hub naming is the only such designation for Florida so far. The EDA received 198 applications from regional consortia.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava called it “a generational opportunity that promises to tackle the climate crisis and directly fuel economic development here in South Florida.”

“Miami-Dade is proud to work in partnership on this initiative with public, academic, and private partners,” she said in a statement. “And with the help of our federal partners, we’re building a more prosperous, future-ready region.”

The Miami-Dade Innovation and Economic Development Office was the lead agency that applied for the federal designation. It received bipartisan support in Congress from U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Reps. Mario Díaz-Balart, Carlos Giménez, Jared Moskowitz, María Elvira Salazar and Frederica Wilson, who signed a letter of support for the project, according to a Miami-Dade news release.

“Given that Miami-Dade County is at the forefront of the climate crisis, I am grateful that the (Joe) Biden-(Kamala) Harris Administration has designated the South Florida Climate Resilience Tech Hub within,” Wilson said in a statement. “This hub will create jobs and jumpstart innovations in our county, specifically focused on mitigating the devastating effects of climate change.”

With its large population located at low elevation, South Florida is among the most vulnerable regions in the country to climate change, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

That’s driven innovation, according to Miami-Dade’s Tech Hub application, which said South Florida has produced 2% of all American patents for climate change technology in the last five years, during which climate-related academic research and development funding grew there by 10%.

As reported in September by South Florida Business Journal, the South Florida Climate Resilience Tech Hub will focus on the commercialization of four tech categories:

— Coastal resilience and marine infrastructure, including water utility maintenance and stormwater management.

— Clean cement.

— Energy-efficient construction and utilities.

— Clean energy generation, transmission and storage, including electric vehicle charging and smart-grid infrastructure.

The application said the market for sustainable and resilient infrastructure — SRI, for short — is on track to reach $1.3 million by 2023 across those four categories. If it performs accordingly, South Florida could create 23,000 jobs over the next decade and generate $9 billion in revenue.

“President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is rooted in policies that will empower the United States to out-innovate and out-compete the rest of the world,” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said in a statement Monday.

“Our Tech Hubs Program is fundamental to that mission and will supercharge innovation across the nation by spurring cutting-edge technological investments and creating 21st Century job opportunities in people’s backyards.”

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.



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