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The 2016 resolution redux: Natalia Martinez-Kalinina says the tech scene still needs to mature

Everyone makes big New Year’s resolutions, including Miami leaders. Last year we asked them to share their hopes and aspirations for Miami’s tech scene 2016. Now, 11 months later, we asked them to think about how much actually came true in their resolutions for Miami.

Natalia Martinez-Kalinina is the general manager at the Cambridge Innovation Center in Miami. She previously founded the Miami chapter of the Awesome Foundation, a global network spurring local innovations with small micro-grants.

Last year:

“I would say the tech space is like a lot of other topics we feel strongly about in this city. We’re in a moment of adolescence — there’s a lot of energy, excitement, and promise. What we need is maturation.”

Today:

I think we have not matured as much as I would have liked us to, but I think a fundamental difference is we have matured in the kind of conversations we’re having. There’s been a noticeable shift in how honest and transparent we’re being when we talk about aspirations we have.

Last year:

“I would say this is a moment to take a holistic look at where we are not just the tech field, but also other verticals like biotechnology, social entrepreneurship, and other areas that need to come in to make it a robust ecosystem.”

Today:

We need to be more self-critical, talking about gaps more openly and talking about more civic-minded pieces of it, like the digital divide and Code for Miami. I think we’re also having honest conversations about what areas within tech Miami can double down on, rather than just treating it as one holistic bucket, we’re talking about health tech, trade and logistics, and fintech.

We’re taking chunks out of the tech world and trying to deepen them. We haven’t made a whole lot of progress but I think the shift in conversation is a substantial improvement and that feels like maturation, even if we have yet to figure out the pieces that bring that conversation into action.

Last year:

“We have to stop working in silos and look at the system as a whole. My second aspiration is that we create multiple centers of gravity and pull that down into depth, substance, and sustained growth. This means moving surface level, two-inch deep engagements to concentrated centers of gravity.”

Today:

I think we’ve worked on it. I think there’s more willingness to collaborate. I think we have a long way to go in actually breaking down silos and fully engaging in a bidirectional exchange across institutions, but we’re thinking about the systems better. The anchor institutions like universities and the Beacon Council are working better at being plugged in. The public sector is on the road to being more participatory these shifts take a long time so it feels like some conversation is brewing.

And have we built multiple centers of gravity?

I don’t think we’re doing that. I don’t think we’ve done that but that’s a really large goal that’s not a year-to-year kind of aspiration. That’s more of a general attitude for how the city develops as an urban center. When I say that I don’t mean real estate hub, an example is the health district. It’s a health center of gravity, but it’s still disconnected from the rest of the city.

Last year:

“Next year I would expect there to be new and interesting transplant stories of people coming to Miami as a place of opportunity where they can grow. As there are more success stories, the movement will continue to grow.”

Today:

I’ve seen more people come here with an aspiration, globally and domestically, coming to plant their flag and try a thing. That’s one metric that’s valuable but it’s a very small metric because I’m thinking of individual people. The metric of them thriving here is fuzzier and challenge-riddled. The other piece is companies coming and transplanting here and we’re still seeing a very slow churn of that.

What’s one key accomplishment you think Miami tech will have in 2017?

We will interact better with Latin America. We will create more concrete and viable avenues for exchange between the centers of innovation in Latin America and Miami … I think we will make headway in how we connect with and add value to the region.

Read her full 2016 resolution here.