Tech leaders urge embrace of AI, emerging technologies at Florida Chamber event

by | Oct 24, 2023

  • At the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s annual event, business and technology leaders, including Saif Ishoof, emphasized the critical need for the state to increase its investment in emerging technologies, especially AI, warning of economic consequences if the state continues to lag.
  • Ishoof further highlighted the importance of AI integration across business roles and aspired for Florida to become a prime tech talent hub.
  • He also advocated for a shift from viewing AI as a threat to seeing it as a lucrative opportunity.

    At the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s annual event, business and technology leaders underscored the urgency for Florida to invest more in emerging technologies, particularly artificial intelligence (AI), to ensure continued economic growth.

    Saif Ishoof, founder of Lab22c, focused largely on the centrality of AI and similar emerging technologies in current business trends. Speaking to leaders across the state, he assessed Florida’s Research and Development (R&D) expenditures on AI, warning of the economic repercussions the state could face should underinvestment persist.

    “You have to be thinking right now, today, [and] yesterday about how you’re incorporating these technologies into your businesses across every single functional role you have in your company,” he said. “Marketing, sales, HR, operations, finance, back office.” 

    Ishoof further spoke of Florida transforming into a central hub for tech talent with proper emphasis and investment strategy. For corporate entities, he championed the incorporation of AI across sectors, promoting AI’s potential to overhaul conventional operational methods, and insisted that leaders transition from viewing AI as an impending threat to recognizing it as a lucrative opportunity.

    “It’s incumbent upon each and every one of us to become fluent with these next frontier technologies,” said Ishoof.

    Moreover, Ishoof drew parallels between the forthcoming influence of quantum computing and more accessible decentralized internet  formats in computing data.

    He also highlighted the lack of Florida cities on the list of top AI hotspots nationwide, leading to worries about Florida becoming a tech talent exporter.

    On the educational front, Ishoof advised higher education institutions to broaden their R&D funding methods, pointing to private equity as a potent, albeit non-traditional, source.

    The conference also showcased the state’s ongoing R&D accomplishments, with Florida’s University System amassing more than $2.53 billion in R&D funds for the 2022-2023 period. For the current Fiscal Year, according to the panelists, the University of Central Florida, University of South Florida, Florida International University, University of Florida, and Florida State have each earmarked in excess of $250 million for research initiatives.

    Citing data that indicates 83 percent of state university graduates opt to remain in Florida post-graduation, the panelists also stated that boosted R&D infrastructure and intensifying business-academia partnerships can further growth within the state’s economy.

    “We want them to be hired here,” said Dr. Emily Pritchard, Assistant VP of Academic Affairs – Health Innovation and Strategic Alliances and Director of FSU-Mayo Clinic Collaboration. “We want to keep talent here. If we’re working with your business already on some of the research or the development then we can also send the support team that goes with it, who understands what is new and what is coming.”


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