Esports Investor And Lightning Owner Jeff Vinik Wants Tampa Bay To Be An Innovation Destination

Esports Investor And Lightning Owner Jeff Vinik Wants Tampa Bay To Be An Innovation Destination

Jeff Vinik, an esports investor, real estate developer and owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning ice hockey team, announced in early 2018 that he would invest $12 million in Dreamit, an early-stage venture fund and startup accelerator.

One of Vinik’s many investment interests is aXiomatic Gaming, an e-sports ownership group and parent company of professional-gaming franchise Team Liquid. NBA superstar investor Michael Jordan is leading a $26 million Series C funding round in aXiomatic, which Vinik heads up as co-executive chairman.

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Dreamit accelerates startups building tech in healthcare, real estate and security, and the venture fund has its own summit. An urban tech and health tech symposium, the Dreamit x Bisnow Summit took place Nov. 7 and Nov. 8 in Tampa.

Bisnow, a commercial real estate news website, hosts conferences around the U.S. This was the second consecutive year Bisnow returned to the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel and Marina in downtown Tampa with Dreamit. A hotel owned by Vinik, the Marriott Waterside is in an area known as Water Street Tampa. Vinik is said to be investing $3 billion in the 53-acre waterfront space that’s being designed as a hub of smart technologies.

Vinik spoke at the 2018 Dreamit x Bisnow Summit, sharing his outlook for Tampa as a smart city and pushing his continuous message of hope for Tampa to become an innovation destination.

The smart cities movement was born from the idea that the most environmentally sustainable, most culturally vibrant, most efficient, safest and most equitable places to live in the future will be cities, according to TampaGov.net. Tampa is a smart city in the making, and the only city in the U.S. using public residents to facilitate a U.S. Department of Transportation-funded connected vehicle pilot. Read more about it here.

“The Smart City initiative we all hear about is still developing and is still early in the process. We want to be on the leading edge of it. We want to test out the different possibilities,” Vinik said.

innovation destination
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR NBA 2K – Team GFG seen at the NBA 2K16 Road to the Finals championship event on Wednesday, June 1, 2016, in Los Angeles. Two teams of gamers go head to head during a competition that merges simulation basketball with eSports for a shot at $250,000 and a trip to the 2015-2016 NBA Finals. (Photo by Dan Steinberg/Invision for NBA 2K/AP Images)

Experts in real estate development, healthcare, and cybersecurity from around the U.S. and beyond gathered at the Dreamit x Bisnow summit in Tampa to share innovative projects and case studies. Attendees heard from C-Suite executives, cybersecurity experts and more on how each industry is benefiting from the use of tech and what is on the horizon.

“Talent is flocking to (Tampa) by the thousands,” said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. The city is undergoing transformation, he said. “We are in almost every conversation with companies looking for relocation or where expansion is being contemplated.”

James Faison is a co-founder of The Mainframe, an initiative to unify and promote local Black tech professionals. “There’s most certainly a lot of excitement around the changing landscape in Tampa’s innovation and architectural outlook over the next five to 10 years,” Faison said.

Businesses represented at the summit included international construction companies, former Dreamit accelerator graduates and current participants in one of Tampa’s accelerator programs, Tampa Bay Wave. Florida startups in construction, urban tech, and transportation had the chance to showcase their companies.

Panel discussions and fireside chats included how smart contracts and the blockchain can work in real estate transactions, preventing data hacks using AI technology, investing in startups and venture deals.

Nigel Smith, director of AARP Innovation Labs in Washington, D.C., shared how the company is preparing for an aging population. AARP’s inaugural innovation lab is the Hatchery — a 10,000+ square-foot structure in the heart of D.C. where transformational innovation is fostered, incubated and accelerated. He manages Hatchery Ventures, a first-of-its-kind platform for AARP where startups are invited in to co-create, shape and scale disruptive solutions for an increasingly ageless consumer.

Ladi Greenstreet, the healthcare and public service lead of Accenture Ventures, discussed how Accenture is helping to transform the public service and healthcare industry.

Hugh Campbell is founder and president of Advanced C4 Solutions, an IT services provider in Tampa. He said he found the conference more intimate than others, and “the quality of the people attending, the startups exhibiting and the speakers were top notch.”

For those looking to get a deal done at the event, there was a good chance of having a captive audience and walking away with new business.