In 2015 I spoke at an event in Miami seeking to answer what the city needed to have to become a leading tech hub. I even put the slides into a blog post. So the irony was not lost on me today when I was asked what Miami needed to do to become a climate tech hub. The same applied: tech, role models, angels, VC, growth, exits.
The question came during a panel on Climate Tech and Venture organised by Opportunity Miami, the local government sponsored platform to accelerate Miami’s future. The panel had come together as a result of Breakthrough Energy Venture, Volo Earth Ventures and 2150 being in town for the Blue Frontier Board meeting. Our friends from LowerCarbon flew in 👏👏 and other local investors joined the panels.
Borrowing an analogy from fellow presenter Patricia Wexler, Miami should be ground zero for climate tech. It is the only city that looks like the global south, where Climate Change will have the greatest impact, but benefits for a G7 country infrastructure and USA incentives like the IRA. Miami, in other words, should be the test ground for the solutions we will need to deploy, at scale, in the years to come in Lagos, Laos and Lima.
To make this happen government needs to be at the table, and it was wonderful to see a dozen members of Miami and Miami-Dade government in the audience including the opening words from my friend and former Facebook colleague Cesi (‘che-si’) who now leads economic development initiatives for the Miami-Dade mayor. Miami might have hit the headlines in the last few years as the hangout for the Crypto bros…. but its leaders are hellbent on ensuring it becomes the hangout for the climate gals!
On stage, at my insistence, was also Ivan from Watsco, the most impactful climate company you’ve never heard of. This $7 billion revenue, $10+ billion market cap company mitigated 17 megatonnes of CO2 in 2022 by touching 40% of all HVACs in the UK serviced or upgraded in the US. Climate “tech” takes unforeseen guises, but the scale of the impact Watsco already has puts the climate darling, Tesla, to shame. And this company is HQ’d in Miami and could play a central role in incubating, inspiring and investing into the climate tech Miami and the world will need in the future.
The city is at the forefront of the climate crisis: rising sea levels, increasing likelihood of “100 year events”, political willingness AND pushback. But it is also at the forefront of what could become the test bed of deployment of both mitigation and adaptation solutions.
My framework from 2015 still stands on what Miami will need to do to become a thriving ecosystem… this time it feels like the outcome is not only important for the city’s development but critical for it’s survival.
What I loved most about today was seeing the blended mix in the room of Angels, VCs, founders, academics, politicians and climate-curious folks. Not a bad turnout for a random Tue eve. Not a bad omen for the opportunity Miami has ahead of it.
PS Even managed to get a Versailles Sandwich Cubano into the day… if you know, you know!