University of Miami Steps Up Innovation Strategy alongside CIC Miami at “Converge Miami”
The University of Miami Life Science & Technology Park will be renamed Converge Miami to more inclusively brand the building for what the University of Miami hopes it will become: a hub of entrepreneurship and technology reaching across industries as well as geographies.
Inside Converge Miami is the Cambridge Innovation Center, or CIC Miami, which is running a 70,000-square-foot co-working center with open work areas, offices and labs for entrepreneurs and scientists. Converge Miami also houses Venture Cafe, a nonprofit that puts on programming and events for the community, including its signature #ThursdayGathering, with talks, pitch nights, mentor and investor office hours, exhibitions and networking.
When the Converge Miami sign goes up on the six-story UMLSTP building facing Interstate 95, it might be one of the most visual symbols yet that University of Miami leadership is serious about innovation.
“CIC has one of the most impressive records of attracting the startup community, so they are a great tenant to have there,” UM President Dr. Julio Frenk said. “The idea is to signal that we are striving to have a space where innovators and entrepreneurs, healthcare experts, investors and established companies can all come together.”
Healthsnap Solutions has created a powerful assessment tool for healthcare providers. After filling out a 10-minute online questionnaire, a patient can leave her doctor’s office with a report full of personalized dietetic and exercise information and advice, pulled by an algorithm from more than 500 research sources, said Yenvy Truong, CEO of the health-tech company and a UM biomedical alumna.
The inventor of the technology, Dr. Wesley Smith, is chair of the exercise physiology program at the School of Education, and two of Healthsnap’s other cofounders, Samson Magid and Chase Preston, were his students. “It started as a service-based research project at UM. We assessed almost 2,000 University of Miami employees, professional athletes and UM athletes. We collected all this data and we still have ongoing studies now,” Magid said.
Healthsnap co-founders came together with the help of Kenyon’s team, and exclusively licensed the technology at the end of last year. Since then Kenyon’s team has advised them and made introductions for the company as needed.
The initial assessment product launched in April to a group of doctors in South Florida, as the team continues to gather feedback. Now the company is working on the next version of Healthsnap’s assessment, which will likely include a shorter questionnaire and more optional categories for targeted advice in particular areas, said Truong, who has worked in the anti-aging industry and has started other diagnostic companies. When Healthsnap rolls out the software product nationally, it will sign up doctors who will pay a subscription fee to use the tool.
Healthsnap, now with 10 employees, was one of the first companies to move into CIC’s 6th floor in Converge Miami. Truong said the team likes being in the healthcare district and in a vibrant space with entrepreneurs from many industries. She also likes that UM is a strong partner in the team’s success. “We want to be an example university company.”
With Converge Miami’s Building 1 now fully leased with CIC Miami (miami.cic.us) at 1951 NW 7th Ave., Building 2 is in the planning stages.
“Innovation and entrepreneurship need to be part of the education of every student,” Frenk said. “We owe it to our community for the economic development of Miami to play a major role in innovation.”