Launch Pad initiative targets start-up companies

In 2008, The Launch Pad opened its doors at the University of Miami with the goal to facilitate students’ business endeavors. Four years later, the Pad has gone viral.

The Launch Pad has collaborated with public and private sectors, which include the Miami Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and Miami-Dade County, to create the Tech Accelerator. This initiative targets tech start-up companies in industries such as healthcare, hospitality, tourism and the creative arts sector.

Susan Amat, the co-founder and executive director of The Launch Pad, is looking forward to the opening of Miami’s accelerator in Downtown.

“There are hundreds of other [business] incubators, but ours is so different,” she said. “We are focused on community development, not starting a business to make money.”

The accelerator is open to any person with a start-up company. After the submission deadline, Nov. 5, applications will be reviewed and the best 10 companies will be accepted. If some of these companies are not local, the accelerator will move them to Miami.

The selected companies will receive three months of entrepreneurial extensive training, a year of free space, access to the accelerator’s resources and “world class” mentoring, Amat said.

And students will also benefit from the accelerator’s fellowships and internships.

Chelsea Cook, a freshman majoring in entrepreneurship, said the idea of The Launch Pad’s accelerator intrigues her.

“I think it will provide a lot more opportunities for students with entrepreneurial pursuits,” Cook said.

The accelerator was made possible with the financial support of the DDA and the Office of the Mayor, Carlos A. Gimenez. The DDA awarded two grants totaling $450,000, and the mayor’s office committed $1 million in grants.

Marc Sarnoff, a City of Miami commissioner and chairman of the DDA, was a main advocate for the development of the accelerator, Amat said.

“We are extremely well situated to build on the premise that we can be and are and should be a technology city,” he said in an article reported by The Miami Herald.

Amat echoes Sarnoff’s belief.

“The grant proves that Miami is open for business,” she said. “Miami will become a technology epicenter.”