Feb 21, 2023 - Business

Tampa's Synapse Summit boosts Florida tech startups

Illustration of a brain turning into a computerized image of a brain with two sparks moving around it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Thousands of tech innovators and entrepreneurs connected at Tampa's Synapse Summit last week, and a few Florida startups walked away with some big investments.

The big picture: As Chat GPT and generative AI drive much of the news cycle, artificial intelligence was also the center of much of the conversation at the tech conference last Tuesday.

Driving the news: Miami-area startup EVQLV won the conference's pitch competition. The company aims to use AI to speed up the process of creating antibodies for pharmaceutical companies to get medicine and vaccines on the market.

  • CEO Andrew Satz secured a $150,000 investment from local venture capital funds.

Flashback: This isn't the first time EVQLV has made a splash in Florida tech circles. The company won the state's innovation award last fall.

What we're watching: These companies aren't AI-based, but they still wowed the Summit crowd:

Soarce, an Orlando startup that turns seaweed into leather took home $20,000 for second place in the conference's Innovation Awards.

  • The company, led by University of Central Florida alumni, will start production on seaweed leather shoes later this year, per Orlando Inno.

Swiftpaws, led by Meghan Wolfgram in Melbourne, was a finalist for the pitch contest.

  • After getting her big break on "Shark Tank" last year, Wolfgram is working toward making a more affordable version of her lure coursing machine for dogs. It can be used for competitive sports dog training — or just by owners who want to give their pups a never-ending game of fetch.
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