Innovation Hub USA

USF Connect – Innovators Paving the way for Other Innovators

USF connect - Biofuel Conversion-03
USF connect - Biofuel Conversion-03
usf connect-logo-wordmark



There are innovators, and there are innovators who pave the way for other innovators. USF Connect is the latter.


It’s easy to think of universities as microcosms of thought whose impact is limited to academia itself. But through its support of local technology and bio-life startups, USF Connect is sharing the wealth—and to considerable ends.

Begun in 2001, USF Connect forms the lynchpin between three initiatives: the Tampa Bay Technology Incubator (TBTI); the USF Student Innovation Incubator (SII); and the Florida High Tech Corridor Council’s (The Corridor) Matching Grants Research Program. USF Connect provides new businesses access to everything from laboratories and scientific equipment to experienced mentors and networking events, not to mention every amenity available to USF faculty, staff, and students.

In 2017 alone, USF Connect aided 77 startups and accepted 25 others into the Student Innovation Incubator. Its economic impact on the Tampa Bay region for that year—23 counties in all—is estimated at $395 million.

The variety of companies under USF Connect’s umbrella is as impressive as the support it provides them. Take KeriCure, a line of all-natural wound-care products for humans and animals alike. Dr. Kerriann Greenhalgh, a USF alumna, created KeriCure after her husband-to-be nearly lost his hand to small but infected cut; the over-the-counter methods they’d tried failed them completely. Anyone who’s heard of liquid bandages has likely come across KeriCure.

USF connect - Patent Wall

Another company in the USF Connect incubator is Molekule, a revolutionary indoor-air filtration system first developed to mitigate inventor Dr. Yogi Gaswami’s son’s asthma. Existing HEPA filters only trap the largest of spores and impurities, and after becoming saturated, simply release many of these undesirable particles back into the air. Conversely, Molekule’s Photo Electrochemical Oxidation (PECO) technology targets and destroys pollutants 1,000 times smaller than traditional HEPA filters, and all it releases into the air is carbon dioxide, water, and trace elements.

In the same way that Molekule’s and KeriCure’s innovation lies in their pure and noninvasive solutions, so does NeuX use thoughtful technology to solve a common but serious problem—in this case, chronic pain. NeuX, a medical technology and health and wellness company, developed Interactive Neuromuscular Stimulation (INS) as a non-addictive, non-pharmaceutical, and non-invasive means of treating chronic pain of nearly any cause.

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Says Valerie Landrio McDevitt, USF’s associate vice president for technology transfer and business partnerships: “Their [NeuX] goal to help people of all ages live a more active lifestyle, free of pain and injury through continued clinical studies and biomedical engineering research, is an easy mission to get behind.” But like a port upon the ocean, an incubator is not meant to house its occupants forever. And so, when companies like Agilis Biotherapeutics are scooped up by larger companies eager for the incubated ones’ technologies, it is a sure sign that USF Connect is fulfilling its mission.

Agilis Biotherapeutics developed a platform for gene therapy that targets AADC deficiency, Friedrich’s ataxia, and Angelman syndrome, each of which presents as a debilitating neurological disorder. Now, they have been acquired by PTC Therapeutics, an international powerhouse with a mission to treat patients with rare disorders.

“We…have had a very positive experience in the Incubator program and with USF,” said Mark Pykett, DVM, Ph.D., and President and Chief Executive Officer of Agilis Biotherapeutics. “The TBTI resources and people, along with funding opportunities like the Florida High Tech Corridor’s Matching Grant program, can help companies progress to the next level.”

Nomenclature like “incubator” or “accelerator” can make a layperson believe that an incubator or accelerator’s impact is simply beyond comprehension, that their work takes place on a level that is meaningless outside of the lab. But just a glance at the companies under USF Connect’s umbrella reveals that something they all—including USF Connect—have in common: they provide innovations that change people’s lives, for the better, every day.

4202 E. Fowler Avenue, Tampa, FL 33620, USA
Phone: 813-974-2011
facebook/twitter: USouthFlorida | youtube: USFchannel | linkedin/instagram:
usouthflorida |

Judy Genshaft – All Great Cities have Great Research Universities

USF Judy Genshaft
usf logo



As the state’s first public research university to be located in a metropolitan region, the University of South Florida System has always been proud of its relationship with the Tampa Bay community we serve.

USF Judy Genshaft

“USF ranks 25th among public universities
for research spending.”

We live in an era when the public increasingly depends on research universities to be a key driver of global innovation. In response, our researchers and scholars are bringing incredible new ideas to life as they help students prepare to share their creative talents locally and globally.

It is that passion for making life better that powers our commitment to innovation and invention. USF is the nation’s fifth leading public university in generating new United States utility patents, and ranks 12th among universities worldwide in this key measure of innovation. We continue to stand with some of the world’s most prestigious institutions in this highly competitive arena, including the University of California System, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University and Stanford University. On a global scale, 2018 was the eighth year that USF ranked in the top 20.

USF faculty members have invented new technologies to assist people with disabilities and fight cancer with nanotechnology. Their innovations are converting waste to liquid fuel and they are creating the systems that run robots and augmented reality. Our faculty is making significant contributions to our understanding of neurodegenerative diseases and brain injury, helping find solutions to potentially life-threatening food allergies, and developing ways of ensuring the sustainability of coastal communities and essential resources such as food, energy and water. These are just a few of the many ways USF is shaping the future.

USF ranks 25th among public universities for research spending – a metric used to chart the level of research activity at American institutions – according to the National Science Foundation. Ranking in the top 25 nationally reflects USF’s dramatic rise as a public research university. In 2017, USF’s annual research expenditures were $558 million, more than triple the amount from the early 2000s.

The NSF ranking is a key indicator of our commitment to life-changing research. So is our designation by the Florida Board of Governors as a Preeminent State Research University – one of only three in the state. It is truly a new era of progress and success at USF, and we are just getting started. We are making significant investments in our residential, academic and research facilities, including our new USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute in downtown Tampa. This project, in the heart of the Water Street redevelopment project, symbolizes who we are and what we stand for as a university and a community.

USF’s talented and passionate faculty, staff and students share an unwavering commitment to improving lives here in Tampa Bay and around the world. As we work together to solve some of our most pressing challenges, we make an immeasurable impact for generations to come.

Thank you for your support.


Tampa International Airport – a Legacy of Innovation



When Tampa International Airport as we know it today opened in 1971, it was heralded as the most modern airport in the world. Featuring a hub-andspoke design, TPA put people first by limiting walking distances and using a never-before-seen automated people mover system to transport travelers from the Main Terminal (the hub) to airsides (the spokes) to catch their flights.

This architectural wonder was featured in such publications as Life magazine, Popular Science, and U.S. News and World Report and lauded as the most passenger-oriented terminal complex in operation.

Today’s travelers still benefit from the ground-breaking design, and Tampa International Airport consistently is listed among the top airports in the country for satisfaction.

TAMPA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT Remote Bag check at rental car center

The Airport is continuing to build on its legacy of innovation with a three-phase expansion program that will allow Tampa International to accommodate 34 million passengers each year, doubling the capacity from when the first dirt was turned for the project in 2014.

In 2018, the Airport served more than 21 million passengers – an Airport record – and completed the $981-million first phase of the expansion. The expansion included a new Rental Car Center connected by a 1.4-mile people mover to an expanded Main Terminal with an entirely new concessions program. In the Rental Car Center, a remote bag check and boarding pass kiosks that serve multiple airlines offer a one-of-a-kind passenger amenity that means rental car customers don’t have to manage their luggage after they return their rental cars. The popularity of the service also means fewer passengers use the ticket counters in the Main Terminal, improving the Airport’s efficiency.


“The Airport is continuing to build on its legacy of innovation with a three-phase expansion program that will allow Tampa International to accommodate 34 million passengers each year.”


SkyConnect, the name given via a community vote to the new people mover system, includes a stop at the Economy garage, providing a major customer service improvement to users of the most affordable Airport parking product. In the past, Economy parkers had to wait for up to 15 minutes for a van to take to them to the terminal, which also required maneuvering luggage up the steps into the van. With the SkyConnect, which arrives about every three minutes, it’s simply roll-on, roll-off. Reaching speeds of nearly 50 miles per hour, the 12 SkyConnect vehicles are each wrapped with images of native birds – six in total. The birds include the Great Egret, Black Skimmer, Bald Eagle, Roseate Spoonbill, White Ibis and the American White Pelican. The bird theme is particularly fitting to the Airport. More than 500 bird species either live year-round in Florida, stay here for the winter or use the state as rest stops as they migrate. Many are found here in Tampa Bay. The featured birds were chosen with help from the Tampa Audubon Society

TAMPA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT New terminal concessions

The Main Terminal expansion includes outdoor seating areas, one by the food court and two others outside the Hard Rock Cafe and P.F. Chang’s. These beautiful spaces feature high-end furniture, plenty of shade and cooling fans so guests can enjoy the Florida outdoors year-round. The new concessions program has already won industry awards for its outstanding design and unique offerings that include such familiar national brands as Hard Rock Cafe, Chick-fil-A, Wendy’s, Starbuck, Illy, Tommy Bahama, Ron Jon and Quiksilver, and a huge variety of local restaurants and products that give travelers a taste of Tampa Bay.

The Columbia Restaurant, whose Ybor City storefront is the oldest continuously operating restaurant in Florida, has a full-service restaurant in Airside E, as well as a significant presence in a food court in Airside C. Other Tampa Bay flavors included the Irish pub Four Green Fields, pizza from Bavarro’s, Greek fare from Louis Pappas and fine dining from Mise En Place.


Work has already begun on the second phase of the Airport expansion, which includes commercial development around the Rental Car Center, to create a sort of “airport city,” and additional curb space at the Main Terminal to accommodate continued passenger growth as well as adapt to the changing transportation landscape shaped by ridesharing and the inevitability of automated vehicle use by the general population.

One of the region’s most beloved institutions, Tampa International Airport is also a lynch pin in its economic vibrancy, with an impact of more than $8 billion every year and more than 10,000 workers on the Airport campus. Growing air service supports the region’s tourism industry, and assists with recruitment of businesses looking to relocate or expand in the Tampa Bay region. With development all around Tampa Bay, TPA looks to continue to grow to better serve the area and create a memorable first and last impression for millions of travelers each year.


“One of the region’s most beloved institutions, Tampa International Airport is also a lynch pin in its economic vibrancy, with an impact of more than $8 billion every year and more than 10,000 workers on the Airport campus.”

Tampa International Airport SkyConnect Terminal

4100 George J Bean Pkwy, Tampa
FL 33607, USA

Lakshmi Shenoy – Embarc Collective

Lakshmi Shenoy Headshot
Lakshmi Shenoy Headshot



As a newcomer to the Tampa Bay region, I’ve had the opportunity to spend the past year immersing myself in the entrepreneurial community that has been growing here. Locals understand that Tampa Bay is a great place to live and get to experience that life each day. However, beyond the functional benefits: weather, economy, etc., there is a mindset advantage that exists here. This community is open to growth, optimistic about this region’s potential and “all in” to help in this effort. This is distinct to Tampa Bay and should not be something we take for granted. It should be celebrated and leveraged, as many regions resist the type of growth and change that we embrace.

While we have the mindset and many functional benefits on our side, there is a still a great amount of work to be done to make Tampa Bay a prime destination for startup talent. From my vantage point, there are three main challenges to address:

1) Building Our Regional Startup Brand: Outside of Tampa Bay, we aren’t known as a viable place to grow a startup business because we aren’t telling our story outside of our region. Promoting the latest rankings about Tampa Bay stories won’t change the perception. What will change the perception is telling the stories of the people and the companies at the forefront of change, much like what this book does. It’s sharing these teams’ successes, but also showing how they remain resilient through the face of inevitable startup hardship, supported by a community that backs them during the ups and downs. These people and companies and their successes shape the story of our region’s startup identity.

2) Increasing the Density of Startup Opportunities: Building a startup is incredibly difficult. 75% of venture-backed startups fail. That means even if you’ve created a company and are one of the few who successfully manage to raise investment to scale your business, you still only have a 25% chance of success. If a region’s startup identity is formed by its notable success stories, we need to build a bigger pipeline so that more companies can make it through and beat the odds against them. It’s simple math – the more we can get into the top of the funnel, the better the chance that one company will make it through the funnel and achieve success. That means increasing the volume of new ventures that are founded in Tampa Bay and the volume of companies that grow in Tampa Bay.

3) Being Patient and Persistent: People often look to Austin as a non-Silicon Valley startup region success. The reality is that SXSW started 21 years ago. Building a regional startup identity takes patience and persistence. Even Boulder has been at it for well over a decade. Since moving to Tampa Bay, I’ve been excited by all the activity occurring through groups including the Tampa Bay Wave, which is helping startups with mentorship and readiness for capital raises through its accelerator program; the Florida Israel Business Accelerator, which is bringing Israeli startups to Tampa Bay and in turn, creating global connectivity for our region and a soft landing for companies that are looking to grow in the United States; and Synapse, which is digitally connecting members of the innovation community to opportunity through their growing platform. We need to keep at it and continue to support these efforts to build and grow our entrepreneurial community.

The mission of Embarc Collective, the newest supporter of the Tampa Bay entrepreneurial community, is to help make Tampa Bay a prime destination for diverse startup talent to make an impact. This is a big vision and takes all of us, the collective – entrepreneurs and their teams, investors, supporters, prospective startup talent and the broader Tampa Bay community to make this happen. But if there is one region that can make this vision a reality, it’s Tampa Bay.

twitter: @lshenoy / @embarccollectiv

Synapse Florida – Celebrating the Success of our Innovation Communities

Synapse Florida - Innovation Summit
Andy Hafer synapse primary logo (1)
Synapse Florida - Innovation Summit



Synapse Florida, the nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization connecting innovation communities across Florida, was founded on the premise that serendipity doesn’t scale. By building a state-wide movement, Synapse is enabling innovation partners throughout Florida to find each other and develop relationships in a way that hasn’t existed before.

Andy Hafer - 8_personas - synapse Florida

“If you want to accelerate success and build flourishing, sustainable economies, it needs to be done in an intentional, meaningful, and purposeful way,” says Marc Blumenthal, Executive Director of Synapse.

Connections: Framework for Fueling Innovation

Synapse believes that connections are the key to accelerating thriving innovation communities and driving Florida’s economic growth, while attracting and retaining top talent—now and for generations to come.

By creating a framework to connect entrepreneurs, talent, investors, corporations, educational institutions, and other business stakeholders, Synapse helps people find what they need and share what they have in three ways:

•• Synapse Connect – An online, customized platform that allows innovators to easily and quickly connect with the resources they need anywhere across the state. Synapse Connect only shows you the opportunities, partners, news, companies, and events that are relevant to your changing needs and goals.

•• Synapse Challenges – A crowdsourcing solution for organizations to solve real-world problems and create new opportunities for forward-thinking businesses and people—efficiently and cost-effectively. Challenges inspire our state’s most talented creators and makers to innovate and fuel the talent pipeline.

•• Synapse Programming – Throughout the year, Synapse hosts purpose-driven programming online and in-person. The capstone event is the Synapse Summit—a live two-day celebration of innovation where visionaries, doers, and success-makers connect with the latest transformational innovations across all industries to educate and inspire.

Synapse Florida innovation challenges
Synapse Florida - innovation hub

Providing value

Synapse helps to break down the silos of industry, encouraging people to connect and engage easily with purpose and provide guidance to accelerate success. “It’s an example of our core values,” comments Andy Hafer, Synapse Florida Co-founder. “Members of our community are incredibly generous of their time and support to help talented people, entrepreneurs, and startups get to the next level. We celebrate each other’s successes. As the saying goes, the ‘rising tide lifts all boats.’”

In just one year, the impact Synapse has made on our state is palpable. “We are proud that Synapse has already made a positive impact on so many in our community,” says Lauren Prager, Vice President of Communication and Programming. “Every week, we hear from another person who found an investor, a client, a new team member, a career opportunity, and important bit of inspiration, or valuable connection through Synapse. This is what we are built to do.”

“We were built to enable better connections across the state,” added Marc. “An investor or entrepreneur should not be limited by time and space to find the partner they need to succeed. We’re proud that Synapse has a solution that is beginning to fix the problem.”

Synapse is truly a community movement, led by a Board representing Florida’s leading innovators and run day to day by unbelievably dedicated staff and volunteers. “It is truly remarkable to have such great leaders on one board, all with one common goal, to make Florida the best place to innovate, build a business, career, and life,” says Brian Kornfeld, President of Synapse. “We are grateful to the talented, resourceful Synapse staff and volunteers who are fostering the connections for innovation, helping to create the success stories that will let the world know that Innovation Lives Here.”

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innovation summit - synapse florida

Synapse Board

Synapse extends sincere appreciation and gratitude to its inaugural board, representing Florida’s leading entrepreneurs, investors, corporate executives, and principals of educational institutions, entrepreneur support organizations, and government, who are supporting the state’s thriving innovation communities.

Chairman of the Board, Tim Schar, SunTrust Bank

•• Ark Applications
•• BayCare Health System
•• BNY Mellon Wealth Management
•• Cherry Bekaert
•• ConnectWise
•• Dali Museum
•• Deloitte
•• Dynamic Communities
•• Embarc Collective
•• Feldman Equities
•• Florida Funders
•• Florida Israel Business Accelerator
•• Florida Polytechnic University
•• Florida State Representative Jamie Grant
•• Guidewell Florida Blue
•• Grow Financial Federal Credit Union
•• Hillsborough County Economic Development EDI2
•• Holland & Knight
•• Hunter Business Law
•• !P Innovation Partnership

• PAR, Inc.
•• Publix
•• Metropolitan Ministries
•• Qualified Meetings
•• Reliaquest
•• Schifino Lee Advertising & Branding
•• Skoda Minotti
•• Straz Center for Performing Arts
•• SunTrust Bank
•• Tampa Bay Business Journal
•• Tampa Bay Innovation Center
•• Tampa Bay Tech
•• Tampa Bay Wave
•• Tucker Hall
•• Major General David Scott (Ret.)
•• Ultimate Medical Academy
•• University of South Florida College of Engineering
•• USF Muma College of Business
•• USF Research & Innovation
•• University of Tampa

For more information about Synapse Florida, please visit:
facebook: synapseFL | instagram: synapseflorida | linkedin: synapsefl

Script – Spend More time Teaching & Less Time doing Paperwork

script team
Script Logo
script team


Script is a workflow automation solution that processes and digitizes paperwork for schools so that the focus can be on what’s really important, teaching. Process automation was previously only available to large corporations with multi-million dollar IT budgets, however now it can be perfectly tailored for schools at an affordable price. Whether approving purchase orders from principals or sending Human Resources paperwork to new teachers, it is the solution to achieving a more effective and efficient way of dealing with administration. Schools around the nation are using Script to eliminate rooms of filing cabinets, increase efficiency, save money and achieve new levels of financial accountability. Script is the best way for schools to spend more time teaching and less time doing paperwork.


Script co-founders

Script was founded by Aaron White and Patrick Cahill two years ago, while Aaron was the IT Director in the Florida school system. Aaron saw the growing need for all the administrative functions of running a school to be streamlined and automated. This paved the way for the Script App to be developed with the help of his co-founder, Patrick Cahill. The app caters for both the school and the parent. The parent app allows parents to manage their children’s emergency contacts, sign permission slips, pay for field trips and make payments for things like yearly fees and tuition. Teachers can easily plan and manage school activities by using a student roster to automatically route notifications, payments and release forms to the correct parent. Every payment, permission slip and parent response can be viewed in the Script dashboard so that everyone, from teachers to bookkeepers, has the data they need to do their jobs more efficiently.

One of the tools of the app is the Individual Digital E-File Automation (IDEA) Model which delivers actionable insight to determine how process efficiency impacts both the school’s and district’s administrative procedures. Until recently there has not been a standard to evaluate procedure efficiency in the central office of education.

What has been missing is a Standards-Based approach to assessing an entire district’s current state of affairs, and a comprehensive solution to bringing the district into the 21st century. School district workflow automation streamlines digital asset management, which facilitates the adoption and coordination of impressive software, such as personalized learning programs, dynamic assessment tools, digital curricula, and more. Solutions such as Script work with a district to analyze their current workflows and look for areas of improvement. Additionally, the IDEA model can be used and adapted for colleges as well as independent education associations. Districts who have adopted workflow automation have seen increases in efficiency across the board, and teachers who utilize a student performance dashboard report higher student growth, along with feelings of confidence and high morale. With less time spent grading and tracking performance, the teacher has more time to facilitate collaborative discussions and hands-on projects that engage students.

Aaron and Patrick envisage growing Script organically and making this app available to schools both nationally and internationally, so that the administration function can be focused on student safety, building relationships with stakeholders, and at the same time be freed from the time-intensive burden of paperwork. Script will strive to continue creating and improving on standards for school process efficiency.

Aaron White, Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer
Patrick Cahill, Co-Founder & Chief Technology Officer
Phone: 1 (888) 607-2747
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REAL Building Consultants – Cutting-Edge Green Building Projects

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From the project visioning to early design, through construction and operations REAL Building Consultants works with developers and building owners to make sure that their project is designed, built and operated to reduce it’s impact on the environment and maximize return on investment.


Founded by Taylor Ralph, REAL Building Consultants has been in business since 2008. A couple of years before the start of the consulting firm, Ralph started a design/build company with his co-founder/business partner Darren Brinkley—designing and building net zero energy, LEED platinum, custom built homes and working on very innovative projects in the residential space. Soon after, Ralph started to get a lot of attention around the innovative, third-party certified projects being developed and commercial developers and building owners began to call, asking if he could consult on their projects. He was smart enough to say “yes,” when asked for help. Before he knew it, he had started a commercial consulting practice within the residential design-build firm, and in 2008 REAL Building Consultants was officially formalized. In 2012, the consulting business had grown so much that Ralph ended up selling the ownership in the original design-build company to work full-time on the consulting side.

From the early days, REAL Building Consultants worked on some of the most cutting-edge green building projects, and helped their clients exceed their expectations in building performance. In 2008, the green building market was still in its early stage of growth, and REAL was there to help many of their clients build some of the first LEED certified projects in the Tampa Bay region

REAL Building consultants TEAM
USGBC Team Award - REAL Building consultants
USGBC Team Award

Over the years REAL Building Consultants helped to define what green building was to the market, and developed a system of performance goals that helped their clients realize the business case for sustainable buildings. REAL Building Consultants has helped clients reduce their energy and water use in the buildings, while also promoting alternative transit use and the health and productivity of a space for it’s occupants.

REAL Building Consultants has always tried to maintain a diverse set of clients, working with the most well known developers in the market that are doing important projects for the region, while also helping Tampa Bay to grow into a more mature green building market. Traditionally, the firm works with developers, institutional owners like universities, publicly traded companies, as well as non-profits, small businesses, community institutions and governmental agencies. They cover the entire spectrum inside the commercial development sector, including multi-family projects that realize that their buyers and renters are demanding a home that is environmentally conscious, efficient and healthy.

When a company or developer wants to develop a project in a sustainable manner, REAL Building Consultants helps them to define what that means based on their financial goals and mission; making sure that they are actually designing a project in a responsible, efficient and healthy manner, and achieving the goals they have set up for their business. REAL works to ensure that their clients are building buildings that are making a positive impact on the health and productivity of it’s occupants, while also reducing the building’s environmental impact.

REAL Building Consultants team also works to help clients and the market in general better understand sustainability practices, and how to holistically develop a “green building,” sharing lessons learned while speaking at events, offering educational sessions and volunteering with various real estate-based non-profits. With over 60 years of experience combined in building design, functional performance and construction, REAL Building Consultants is making a major contribution to the green building movement.

Taylor Ralph_Founder REAL Building consultants
Taylor Ralph, Founder
REAL Building consultants _ UT_Jenkins Hall_USGBC site-must note _Courtesy of Eric Kreher_

facebook: REALBuildingConsultants | twitter: realbldgconsult
instagram: realbldgconsult | linkedin: real-building-consultants | pinterest: realbldgconsult

Pocket Network – an Open Source Blockchain that Anyone can use

Pocket Network team
pocket network logo
Pocket Network team


We are building tools and infrastructure that make it easier for developers to build blockchain applications. Similar to how Amazon Web Services made it easy for application developers to access core components such as storage and compute, Pocket Network is the core infrastructure layer that gives the ability for developers to access any blockchain they choose to work with. We do this by building an open source blockchain that anyone can use, along with a set of open source tools that any developer can put in their application to communicate to the blockchain

A “blockchain” in the most basic terms is a way to preserve and send value in a in a purely digital format without the need of a trusted third party like a bank or company. This value is created when the system is used, and instead of paying fees like a traditional business, a cryptocurrency is created and sent to whoever did work in the blockchain.

We believe there will hundreds or thousands of blockchains governing our lives in the future. It makes no sense for each one of them to reinvent the wheel when it comes to hosting critical infrastructure for their developers. With Pocket Network, a blockchain would just need to write a simple plugin, and they will have access to a market of thousands of nodes to run their infrastructure.

pocket network booth


Building in blockchain space exposes you to computer science, cryptography, economics, psychology, governance and game theory. When you’re creating your own blockchain, all of these factors need to be taken into consideration and thought about deeply. Blockchains are contained, economic experiments, and as a protocol builders we have to understand the social and economic decisions being made.

Pocket originally began as an idea called “TelCoin”, where we wanted to tokenize all cell phone data. This meant that I could be a T-Mobile customer in the US, and if I flew to Paris I wouldn’t have to get a new sim card or buy a new phone to communicate. We dove deeply into the problem and quickly realized that the infrastructure to create TelCoin didn’t exist – it was too early. We saw the need for this critical layer of giving developers access to the blockchains, and that’s how we came up with the idea for Pocket Network and started to build a company around it.

The Pocket Network was started with four partners: Michael O’Rourke, Luis C. De Leon, Pabel Nunez and Valeria Benitez Florez. As of writing, the founding team has grown to 16 people, including people dedicated to economic research, software engineering and communications.

pocket network
pocket network lunch
pocket network at work
pocket network group

Paradies Intellectual Propery Solutions LLC

Paradies IP Solutions - CHRIS PARADIES
Paradies IP Solutions - logo



Paradies IP Solutions - CHRIS PARADIES

His efforts as a volunteer economic development leader have been recognized by the Florida Economic Development Council, as the Tampa Bay Region Volunteer of the Year in 2014, and Chris was selected as an Outstanding Leadership Finalist in the 2011 by Tampa Bay Tech. He serves on boards and is the current Chair of the Board for the Tampa Bay Innovation Center. He offers free IP advice to entrepreneurs at monthly “Startup Exchange” meetups, and volunteers as a co.Starters facilitator, helping new entrepreneurs to get started right.

Chris’ vision is to provide innovative solutions to small businesses that reduces costs to own, protect and grow the value of intellectual property, which include trademarks, patents, copyrights, trade secrets, domain names and trade dress. These are the most valuable assets of a successful company in this age of innovation. Nearly 80% of the value of the companies listed in the S&P 500 is attributable to intangibles such as intellectual property. Intellectual property or IP is a complicated and legally evolving area of law requiring expert assistance, which usually costs tens of thousands of dollars. In the Tampa Bay region many small businesses can’t afford the traditional way for protecting their IP, and good alternatives have not been available until now. IPmasterclass started as the IP Workshop, live courses presented to packed rooms. However, the need was much greater than live training could satisfy. So, Chris developed IPmasterclass, an online video tutorial that only requires about an hour a week of an entrepreneur’s precious time and at a cost any startup can afford.

The purpose of IPmasterclass is to prepare innovative startups for success by mastering their intellectual property (IP) without having to become an IP master. The reviews have been extraordinary. Even those entrepreneurs that choose to employ an intellectual property attorney to assist them rave about the training. The focus of IPmasterclass is ownership, because owning your IP and the IP created for you by others, while not infringing IP owned by others, is critical to any small business. IPmasterclass is a work in progress, because IP law and the needs of startups continue to evolve rapidly. Now there is a solution for cash strapped startups that know how important IP is to creative and innovative businesses. 

Go to for more information.

Synapse VIP Thought Leader – Mark Blumenthal

Marc Blumenthal - synapse



Marc Blumenthal - synapse

Together we are shaping our own destiny.
Together we are demonstrating that
“Innovation Lives Here.”

It is hard to believe that it’s been two years since the launch of Synapse. Every day since then has been a validation of our mission: to connect Florida’s innovation communities in a meaningful, purposeful way. As I’ve traveled the state I’ve seen first hand the passion and creativity that have created an incredible tapestry of innovation and opportunity in Florida. The proof lies on every page of this book.

Florida has a lot to celebrate: a population growing by nearly 2,000 people per day; business-friendly laws that support innovation; research institutions producing innovation ready for commercialization; some of our country’s best universities and colleges with hundreds of thousands of students ready to build their careers; innovation in industries from biotech to cybersecurity, from manufacturing to virtual reality, from space exploration to egaming; and a growing cadre of serial entrepreneurs who continue to reinvest both by building new businesses and by paying it forward as mentors to the next generation of entrepreneurs. Major companies and organizations have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to build manufacturing centers, innovation spaces, Fab Labs, wet labs and simulation centers available to innovators and entrepreneurs, hackers and makers.

Individually, these are great resources. Together they are a powerful engine of growth. In so many ways, Florida has more to offer innovators and entrepreneurs than most anywhere else in the country. The challenge is enabling the talent and resources anywhere in the state to easily find each other.

Synapse is meeting that challenge by bringing innovation partners together within a thoughtful framework. We are building a community that enables these resources to collaborate and accelerate success across our state by making these people, companies, and resources more visible and using our events, challenges and digital tools to find and connect with the ones who can help you grow your business.

We’ve already demonstrated that by working together the rising tide really is lifting all boats.

The 2018 Synapse Summit was a tipping point when more than 3,300 innovators, entrepreneurs, and community members, along with 250 companies, came together to celebrate, educate and inspire each other. The impact was real. Investors found deal flow. Founders met partners. Companies found talent. Students saw a path to a career. The Synapse Summit made it clear that innovation does, in fact, live here.

Synapse Challenges are igniting the innovation ecosystem and fueling the talent pipeline, as hackers and makers from coast to coast participate in solving real-world problems. Like designing a chatbot so that Metropolitan Ministries can help the homeless and hungry in urgent need who reach out on social media. Or the juniors at Florida Polytechnic University, whose solution to a blockchain challenge resulted in an unexpected prize: a job. Or the enthusiasm from SunTrust Bank Foundation, Guidewell Florida Blue, Grow Financial Federal Credit Union and others that will launch Synapse Challenges in 2019 because they see the value they have for their own companies and for inspiring the innovation community.

Synapse Connect will continue to become the primary online space for innovators to quickly curate meaningful connections, reducing the degrees of separation between what you have and what you need. This platform will continue to expand enabling the incredible number of people, organizations, and resources to find and be found, think meets Netflix purpose-built for Florida’s innovation communities.

We are so thankful to the enthusiastic and generous community that has come together to make the Synapse movement possible. The companies and community partners that have stepped up to be on the Synapse Board represent our most passionate advocates and important leaders that will shape our movement’s future.

But, this is only the beginning. We still have work to do.

Synapse is building bridges – in person and online – connecting innovation communities, shrinking the state and making resources visible and accessible, turning the vastness of our geography into our greatest asset.

Florida is one of the best places to build a life, career, and company. Together we are shaping our own destiny. Together we are demonstrating that “Innovation Lives Here.”

Andy Hafer synapse primary logo (1)

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