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Four things to know about Miami startups this week

While we often think of startups in terms of tech, they are in no way limited to circuits and silicon. And one area where Miami leads the way in non-tech startups is food.

This week, FIU launched a new food incubator, while a uniquely Miami dessert company was named as a finalist in FedEx’s national small business competition. Thanks to its unique culture and climate for outdoor dining, food is proving a key strength of Miami’s startup scene.

Beacon Council names news CEO

The Miami-Dade Beacon Council, the county’s economic development agency, has named Michael Finney its new CEO. Finney was most recently head of the state of Michigan’s economic development agency. The Beacon Council is responsible for promoting Miami businesses abroad, and attracting new investments to the city.

StartUP FIU FOOD incubator launches

StartUP FIU FOOD, an incubator program backed by $500,000 from the Citi Foundation for South Florida food entrepreneurs, officially launched at the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at FIU’s main campus out of underutilized industrial culinary facilities. The companies in the inaugural cohort are:

Number of Florida VC deals mostly unchanged in Q1 2017

Florida companies saw 24 venture capital deals worth $156.9 million in the first quarter of 2017, according to a new report from CBInsights, MoneyTree and PricewaterhouseCoopers. That compares with 25 deals in the same quarter a year ago, according to the Miami Herald. (That quarter’s $855.3 million worth of deals was dominated by Magic Leap). The most prominent Miami deal was Nearpod’s raising $21 million from investors, including AGP Miami.

Florida’s 24 deals in Q1 put it just behind Illinois and North Carolina, and just ahead of Pennsylvania.

Last week, Pitchbook put out a deals report which used different metrics. They found that South Florida companies saw the 14th-most VC deals among major metros.

Three Miami startups named as finalists in FedEx Competition

On-demand car wash company WashMyWhip, children’s art program Clay World, and bakery Sweet Armoire Alfajor were chosen out of more than 1,000 businesses nationwide to the list of the 100 finalists in the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest. Ten businesses will receive a grant, with one receiving $25,000. The winners will be announced later this month.

By Rob Wile
Rob Wile, the curator for Startup.Miami, is a writer and entrepreneur living in Miami Beach. He’s a former staff writer for Fusion and Business Insider. His work has also appeared in Slate, Newsweek, Money Magazine and The New Tropic. He writes a newsletter on tech, business, and the South Florida economy called The Heatwave.