A reflection on South Florida’s greatest innovations during the pandemic

A reflection on South Florida’s greatest innovations during the pandemic

2022-07-14T06:05:11-04:00May 19th, 2021|Economy, G.Fort Lauderdale|

Writer: Joey Garrand

4 min read May 2021 — Times of crisis bring about partnerships and innovations that otherwise might not have been achieved. Amid these past historic 14 months, we witnessed this phenomenon across all sectors. Some of these adaptations were quick adjustments to remain economically viable, while others were transformative, permanently changing industries. Business leaders across South Florida shared with Invest: some of their companies’ greatest innovations and adaptations over the last year. 

Peter Hult

Peter Hult, CEO, VIKAND

If you look up in the sky, the sun is hitting the Earth’s atmosphere, creating something called hydroxyls. Hydroxyls are a free radical that, when they permeate the atmosphere, break apart gases, bacteria, mold, all of those things. This is how the Earth is cleaning itself. The Holy Grail of air purification is hydroxyl generation. It was used by NASA to purify air in the space shuttle program. We’ve been working with the only company that has FDA-approved hydroxyl generation capacity that can be installed in spaces to create an outdoor environment indoors. Another thing that hydroxyls do is break apart and kill the COVID virus in less than 20 minutes. If you run this in your space, you will have an environment that will kill not only COVID, but norovirus, and other bacteria in the air. You have a 24/7 air mitigation system. That is the biggest, newest solution in the public space that we know of. It is being installed on cruise lines, megayachts, and any installation where you have a lot of people in an environment where you have to reduce the number of pathogens in that environment.



Patrick Fernandes, Executive Managing Director, Carillon Miami Wellness ResortPatrick Fernandes

There is a new standard of cleanliness, and hotels have invested in cutting-edge health and sanitation measures to ensure a safe and comfortable environment at their properties. Take us, for example. We have developed valuable new partnerships with ActivePure for air disinfectant technology and Applied Silver for antimicrobial textile care.

During the pandemic we were also able to pivot our spa to launch a new concept — a touchless wellness division. Knowing that the mindset of travelers would be different as they emerge from the pandemic, touchless wellness allows our guests to receive the advantages of traditional wellness and still enjoy their experience with limited to no touch.



Carol Hylton

Carol Hylton, CEO, CareerSource Broward

In an effort to offer additional immediate relief to job seekers impacted by the pandemic, CareerSource Broward launched its Rapid Employment Program that placed individuals in temporary jobs, who in turn, assisted nonprofits and municipalities to reopen safely. As part of the Rapid Employment Program, over 1,000 people were referred to our career centers and eight virtual job fairs were hosted to help match residents with companies looking to hire. 

Through Prosperity Broward, we also reached out to individuals in our critical zip codes, offering rapid credentialing and training along with the tools to be able to participate virtually to upgrade their skills during a time when many businesses were closed


Mark Gale

Mark Gale, CEO & Director of Aviation, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport

Along with our airline partners, airports participated in a study produced by Harvard University called Aviation Public Health Initiative. Phase 1 of the study, called “Gate to Gate,” took a look at the risk of COVID-19 transmission while flying aboard an airplane. Between the layering of safety protocols and high-quality HEPA filters on the planes, that risk was found to be extremely low. Phase 2 of that study, called “Curb-to-Curb,” looked at the experience of going through the airport. Similar to “Gate to Gate,” “Curb to Curb” found that the actions airports are taking help to significantly reduce the risk of virus transmission. FLL has undertaken a variety of initiatives to make sure our facilities are safe. Ultimately, we believe our efforts are paying off as we begin to emerge from the depths of the pandemic.



Patrick SimmPatrick Simm, Broward President, Miami Association of Realtors

In times of uncertainty, we offered much needed information, resources, tools, government advocacy, and great care. One highlight was launching the impressive Miami Realtors LIVE portal along with other virtual tools, featuring 2,500-plus events, seminars, training courses and programs. That was a significant pivot in response to the pandemic.




Nicole Shiman

Nicole Shiman, Senior Vice President of Investment, EDENS

The statistics for the last 12 months related to BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick-up in Store) are truly astounding. We’re seeing that brands using BOPIS are four times more likely to be used by consumers today than before the pandemic. Seventy percent of consumers made multiple BOPIS purchases since the pandemic started, which is a huge number. Fifty percent of shoppers made an additional purchase in store while they were on site for BOPIS, which really shows you the interdependency. Finally, 90% of traditional retailers expect to offer BOPIS by next year. These numbers are indicating huge trends that have an implication on the design of shopping centers. Retailers will need roadside pick-up locations, convenience and the accessibility of the store. When we’re thinking of new locations and new acquisitions, in light of this new reality, we now must think of how the expectations of consumers are changing.



Ryan RomanchukRyan Romanchuk, Southeast Region Leader, DPR Construction

Last time we spoke pre-COVID, we talked about prefabrication. COVID has just added another reason why the construction industry needs to and will continue to evolve toward prefabrication. It allows fewer workers to be on site, less congestion, a manufacturing process and more predictability in our supply chain. What has happened this year has really extenuated the benefits, and more and more clients are interested and driving our industry in this direction.

At DPR we’ve doubled down on this strategic initiative over the last few years and recently acquired SurePods, a national prefabricated bathroom manufacturer. Prefabrication doesn’t come without its challenges, which is why the industry is slower to adopt. Every project is unique, teams and partners typically change project to project so it’s difficult to scale excellence. We believe it’s a mindset shift and firmly believe those who can adapt, stay cost-competitive and become even more efficient will be in a much better position as the industry evolves and moves ever forward.



Joe Stuczynski, CEO, Memorial Hospital PembrokeJoe Stuczynski

We were the first hospital in the local area to implement telehealth in the patient room. We put iPads in the patient room so that nurses didn’t have to go in the room all of the time. They could talk to the patient through the iPad, which reduced some of the stress of constant exposure and conserved PPE. The same applied to doctors. If a patient had an issue after the doctor left, the doctor didn’t have to re-gown up and could instead talk to and see the patient via the iPad. That took some of the stress off.

I really think telehealth is going to stick even after the pandemic has passed. It’s helped us reach areas we normally wouldn’t be able to reach. We’ve also been able to talk to patients who are afraid to come into the office. Being able to remotely follow up with patients will be big going forward.

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