Microsoft joins forces with Venture Hive to run innovation center in downtown Miami

Microsoft runs its Latin American operations in Fort Lauderdale

MIAMI - Miami may be the home of the next Bill Gates. Many at eMerge Americas Techweek in Miami Beach hope so this week, but  for now it will be home to a new Microsoft innovation center, the company announced Friday.

The multinational corporation --  which made about $77.85 billion in the computer software and hardware industry last year -- has been running innovation centers all over the world since 2002.

"It's really about thinking about the local economy and technology and making Miami a technology hub," said Microsoft's Sanket Akerkar, vice president of Developer & Platform Evangelism.

Microsoft's Latin America and Caribbean headquarters are at 6750 N Andrews Ave, in Fort Lauderdale, where they employ about 400 people. They also employ about 2,000 more in the territory.

Their Miami center becomes the company's 116th in the world to offer free or low cost technical training. There are five in Mexico and eight in Brazil.


Microsoft joins forces with  Venture Hive, at 1010 NE 2nd Ave., a private 35,000 square-feet center for high-growth tech businesses near the future home of Miami's Museum of Science.

Microsoft will control 5,000 square feet in the facility for its center, which will be open for public programs. Classes for public school teachers are scheduled for June.

"We are offering some programs for high schools students that will be announced in the coming weeks," University of Miami professor and founder of Venture Hive Susan Amat said in an email. 

The innovation center will be using Microsoft's BizSpark program, which includes free use of the software for one year and a network of mentors to help create industry partnerships.

Although the schedule of events is still in the works, Amat said they will make "it easy for people to access great training and educational opportunities."


Venture Hive, a private world-class mentor-driven entrepreneur program, was born out of a public-private sector partnership and opened its doors last year in May.

Miami Worldcenter contributed the office space, Miami-Dade County promised $1 million from 2013-2017, and the Miami Downtown Development Authority invested $460,000 from 2013-2014.

Once a company qualifies for the entrepreneurship program -- and only about 6 percent of applicants do -- Venture Hive charges fees and offers services at a low cost. Venture Hive's content director Marisol Gomez said the fees are not like the fees of a co-working space.

"We support building great business leaders who then can run high-growth scalable startups," Amat said adding that they also offer a sense of community and weekly programming.

On their website, Venture Hive claims to already be helping 35 companies and 100 entrepreneurs. Their list includes  Pick-Eat, mStore Operations, Kompoz and NightPro.

Microsoft's innovation center will "give people access to great software and products they may not otherwise have access to - plus the training to know what to do with it," Amat said.

For more information about the new center email


In 2012, the White House recognized Amat's efforts with the Champion of Change award.  She also serves on President Barack Obama's Startup America Partnership, Startup Florida and is an International Women's Forum Leadership fellow.

Amat is also the co-founder of The Launch Pad at the University of Miami. She writes a column for the Miami Herald's Business Monday.

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