Tech and funding create GFL’s perfect innovation storm

Tech and funding create GFL’s perfect innovation storm

By: Sara Warden

2 min read March 2020 — The convenience economy means reality is increasingly becoming virtual, cloud-based and autonomous. Essentially, anything that can make life less complicated is likely to be a hit. From online banking to ride-sharing, the possibilities of technology are endless. Not only is Greater Fort Lauderdale developing the software, but it is also providing the venture capital funding.


Greater Fort Lauderdale is among the Top 50 U.S. tech talent hubs. No wonder, then, that so many tech startups are choosing the city as their home. Everything from semiconductors to security analytics, to telehealth and connected cars – you name it, Greater Fort Lauderdale has it.

Last month, GFL-based bookkeeping and accounting app Xendoo was chosen as one of 10 companies in South Florida that would receive $75,000 to scale their business via the Finance Forward US accelerator program, which is backed by the MetLife Foundation, PayPal and Village Capital. Previously, Xendoo had secured $3.5 million in funding.

Greater Fort Lauderdale’s technology chops are clear to see. Since 1994, Fort Lauderdale has been the headquarters of Microsoft Latin America. Motorola Solutions’ Plantation facility developed an advanced two-way portable radio for use by police, fire rescue and other first responders. Southeast Florida was home to the first IBM PC and the first smartphone.

GFL also knows how to foster talent. Citrix was established in Fort Lauderdale in 1989 as an IT company with market-leading cloud, collaboration, networking and virtualization technologies and now boasts $2.97 billion in annual revenue. And Plantation-based construction project management company e-Builder was acquired by Trimble for $500 million in 2018.

The region is not only bringing the technology and innovation, but also the funding. Fort Lauderdale-based AutoNation recently announced it would invest $50 million in Alphabet’s Waymo self-driving technology. “Waymo is the proven leader in self-driving technology, is the only autonomous vehicle company with a public ride-hailing service, and is successfully scaling its fully driverless experience,” Waymo operating board member Egon Durban told Silicon Valley Business Journal.

Another factor behind the marriage of tech and venture capital is the concerted effort of associations to continue to bring both sectors together. TechLauderdale promotes involvement in Broward County’s tech ecosystem by hosting events that bring together technology companies and funding. The association also promotes education and retraining for those who want to get involved in startup activity. 

“Our startups were having problems scaling up,” Richard Berkowitz, chair to the Broward Workshop’s technology committee, told South Florida Business Journal. “Our hope is that the rest of the business community and technology community in Broward County joins in creating this very strong platform to enhance our tech ecosystem.”


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Broward Workshop:


Philadelphia Building on Life Sciences Success

Philadelphia Building on Life Sciences Success

By: Sara Warden

2 min read January 2020 — Last March, Philadelphia came in at an impressive eighth in CBRE’s ranking of top life sciences markets. Now, almost a year on, the city’s life sciences industry shows no sign of losing momentum – in fact, it is gathering speed.

Last week, the Philadelphia Science Center announced it would award $200,000 each to three Philadelphia-based researchers to develop their early-stage concepts for cancer treatment and diagnosis. The individuals – Ian Henrich, a postdoctoral researcher at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Emily Day, a bioengineer at the University of Delaware; and Haim H. Bau, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Pennsylvania – are developing novel technologies to progress the understanding, detection and prevention of cancers, HIV and sickle cell disease.

This strong focus as a city on the importance of cutting-edge research is one factor that attracts multi-million-dollar companies from around the United States to invest in Philadelphia, which in turn attracts auxiliary services such as specialized logistics and software companies. Digital marketing firm Imre Health, which represents AstraZeneca’s diabetes and respiratory portfolios, announced its decision to establish an office in Philadelphia late last year for just that reason.

“We have carved out a niche at Imre, redefining the patient and HCP experience through digital channels, and Philadelphia is the [ripest] with that kind of talent even compared to New York,” Imre’s President and Partner Jeff Smokler told PR Week. “We view this Philadelphia office as a major tool to help us manage growth and ensure that we’re keeping pace with service needs and requirements. We see the Philadelphia office as dousing the industry with more gasoline.”

But the real test of the success of any company is its ability to list on a stock exchange. In 2019, three of Philadelphia’s life science companies went public, raising nearly $200 million in IPOs. Arch Street-based biotech company Cabaletta Bio raised $74.8 million. Galera Therapeutics, which is developing a treatment that reduces harmful effects that stem from radiation therapy, raised $60 million, with an option for investors to purchase an additional 750,000 shares. And in November, Tela Bio, a surgical reconstruction company developing novel material for tissue reinforcement, raised $52 million in exchange for the 4 million shares it leveraged.

It doesn’t stop there. In October, Anpac Bio, a Chinese bio-medical science company, chose Philadelphia for its US headquarters and second clinical laboratory. “We are very excited to be moving forward with our U.S. corporate headquarters and laboratory in Pennsylvania. The state has a mature life sciences ecosystem and a supportive startup environment that will allow our U.S. business to lay the foundation for future success,” said Shaun Gong, Anpac’s U.S. president, in a press release.

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Philly Life Science Leaders Boosting Infrastructure, Partnerships

by Yolanda Rivas


2 min read July 2019 — With more than 800 related companies and a rich network of health and education systems, the life sciences sector in Greater Philadelphia is growing at a steady pace. All the activity is driving local organizations to develop new infrastructure and local partnerships to cater the burgeoning segment. One prime example: uCity Square 

“There’s nothing like it right now in the Philadelphia region,” Steve Zarrilli, president and CEO of the University City Science Center, told Invest:. A community for entrepreneurs and innovators, uCity Square is an example of the recent efforts to connect businesses, residents, institutions and innovators to form a growing hub in Philadelphia.“Spark Therapeutics and Invisible Sentinel are two of the companies located in University City, and we recently announced that Amicus Therapeutics is creating one of its research centers here as well. These and other companies at uCity Square will play a significant role in the growth of Philadelphia’s life sciences sector,” Zarilli said. 

More than 80 percent of all companies in the life sciences industry have a presence in the Greater Philadelphia region. As stated in Invest: Philadelphia 2019, health-focused sectors provided an economic impact of $88.5 billion for Pennsylvania in 2016 and an economic output of $24.6 billion total between 2011 and 2016 for the Greater Philadelphia region.

Numerous research, biotech and medical devices organizations contribute to the role of life sciences as a key player in Philadelphia’s economy. The pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is an example of that impact, with more than 3,400 people employed at its Upper Providence research and development facility. According to GSK Vice President of Medicine Opportunities Research Unit David Payne, the site is the company’s hub for pharmaceutical R&D in the United States, and represents 40% of its global pharmaceutical R&D workforce. 

As part of its efforts to contribute to the local life sciences sector, GSK continues to look for partnerships and alliances. “We want our U.S. R&D hub at Upper Providence to be a magnet for talented scientists, researchers and physicians. This is a great research center for innovators to build their careers. Every function required in the ‘molecule to medicine’ journey is represented at our hub, providing opportunities for employees to broaden their R&D knowledge and enable career progression and diversification,” Payne said.

Besides the demand for qualified professionals, there is also a need for infrastructure development to support the region’s scientists, entrepreneurs and life sciences companies. As Zarrilli explains, the Science Center’s goal is “to build an additional 3 million square feet of office, lab, residential and retail space over the next seven to 10 years, to further define the leading-edge community we envision at uCity Square. We will do our part to help make Philadelphia a leader in gene therapy and other areas of life sciences.”

As the growth in Philadelphia’s life sciences sector continues, it will impact different areas and draw more entrepreneurs and companies to the region. According to Zarrilli, the advances in the life sciences arena, especially in therapeutics, will lead to additional advancement in areas such as medical devices and digital health. “Life sciences is clearly the strongest area of innovation in Philadelphia, but it will spawn activity in other areas that are complementary.”  

To learn more about our interviewees, visit their websites:

University City Science Center: 


uCity Square: