TAMPA — Jeff Vinik, Tampa Bay Lightning owner and now partner in the joint venture real estate development known as Water Street Tampa, may one day become best known as the man who helped turbo-charge Tampa Bay into a major tech community.
An early step in this process was Vinik's recent decision to recruit Dreamit Ventures to serve as the in-house accelerator program to recruit a group of startup companies focused on "urban tech." They will work hand-in-hand with the 50-plus-acre, $3 billion Strategic Property Partners project backed by Vinik and Bill Gates' Cascade Investment.
Vinik argues Tampa Bay needs to become more of an "innovation hub" in order to attract and keep technology talent.
The initial eight companies have now been picked by Dreamit. They are:
• Gi Fly: The first electric bike that folds in seconds. It's mobile app commands the bike's features, from lights, locking, bike sharing, route guidance, and more. With solid, anti-puncture tires and a belt drive transmission, Gi Fly says it is maintenance-free and can go 40 miles on a single charge. It's a step forward for a practical commuter in urban transportation.
• Cityzenith: Integrates architecture, project design and other data software to help building professionals better design, build, and operate complex, multi-building project locations of any scale, anywhere in the world.
• Ecomedes: Makes sustainable purchasing easy with a digital data management platform for finding the best products for a particular project. Also simplifies analyzing and documenting the economic and environmental impact of projects.
• Flower Turbines: Creates small, quiet and aesthetically pleasing wind turbines for use close to buildings and people. Unique aerodynamics improve efficiency when deployed in dense formations, making them ideal for urban and similar settings.
• Knowify: Software for commercial subcontractors to help bid, track and invoice their jobs. Result is fewer mistakes, better decision making and less time wasted on administrative tasks.
• Lotik: Provides water monitoring as a service with wireless sensors that clamp onto pipes and plumbing fixtures to detect water flow and identify leaks. Data can be sent to the cloud for analysis.
• Raxar: Software that streamlines and ensures quality, safety and compliance and helps improve long term planning with such customers as large airports, government agencies and engineering firms.
• Twist Homes: A turnkey lighting control system that includes wireless speakers, wi-fi repeaters and a platform supporting multiple sensor modules to monitor a building's internal environment.
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A ninth company called Energy Intelligence was also named to this first mix of startups but will wait for the next cycle, says Andrew Ackerman, the New York-based partner who's heading up Dreamit's new urban tech initiative.
Part of the pitch from Dreamit, and draw for startups, is the program's emphasis on getting its companies in front of real estate, design, construction and related companies as a part of the accelerator program.
Contact Robert Trigaux at email@example.com. Follow @tampabay.com.