eMerge Americas Dissects Future of Innovation

Knight Foundation's Matt Haggman, Magic Leap's Rony Abovitz and UM College of Engineering Dean Jean-Pierre Bardet on the Main Stage at eMerge Americas. Photo courtesy eMerge Americas. 

By UM News

Knight Foundation's Matt Haggman, Magic Leap's Rony Abovitz and UM College of Engineering Dean Jean-Pierre Bardet on the Main Stage at eMerge Americas. Photo courtesy eMerge Americas. 

eMerge Americas Dissects Future of Innovation

By UM News
UM College of Engineering Dean Jean-Pierre Bardet and alumnus Rony Abovitz share the stage in a discussion moderated by Knight Foundation’s Matt Haggman.

University of Miami alumnus Rony Abovitz, a visionary technology entrepreneur, began dreaming of changing the world while still a student at UM’s College of Engineering. On Tuesday, the closing day of eMerge Americas, College of Engineering Dean Jean-Pierre Bardet joined Abovitz, founder of both Mako Surgical and the electrifying startup Magic Leap, and Matt Haggman, Miami program director with the Knight Foundation, on the main stage for a freewheeling discussion that ranged from the future of computing to the new generation of talented innovators in South Florida.

Abovitz kicked off the panel with a confident statement that 2017 will be a big year for Magic Leap. Following several record-breaking investment rounds, the company has expanded into a former Motorola factory and is moving closer to a product launch. Abovitz doesn’t classify Magic Leap’s technology as virtual or augmented reality. 

“What we are doing is creating a new area of spatial ambient computing with augmented digital light field, which is hands-free and is contextually aware and interacts with the user and surrounding world,” he said. 

This type of technology, he added, will have users “experiencing life in a whole different way. What universities are doing is creating a movement and energy.” 

As Dean Bardet said, “Great research universities need to support these types of innovative ecosystems.” The dean noted that universities are transforming education and reshaping the future through the development of students’ intellectual curiosity and engagement. 

“We are no longer training graduates for jobs,” he added. “We are educating them to create jobs.” 

The College’s mission – to transform lives by creating new knowledge, re-creating knowledge for education, translating knowledge for commercialization and providing exemplary service to the community – will play an integral role in making Miami the hub of innovation for the Americas and the gateway for knowledge transfer between Latin America and North America.  

Bardet and Abovitz agreed that South Florida is a fertile and dynamic region for the convergence of technology and innovation, and both expressed excitement and appreciation that programs such as eMerge are playing a major role in connecting entrepreneurs and technology titans. Speaking directly to the community, Abovitz shared his dream of seeing the University of Miami become “the Stanford of the South.” 

In addition to technology development, panelists stressed that ethical and social ideals are of paramount importance to today’s innovators. “Artificial Intelligence can be built to amplify/empower or built to replace,” Abovitz said. “But the direction is up to the entrepreneur. It is up to us to look forward and innovate. Future entrepreneurs also should think about ethics and morals – what am I doing that is good for my community, country and world, not just what will make money.” 

In its fourth year, eMerge Americas is a two-day technology conference in Miami designed to connect innovators, investors and thought leaders through summits, workshops and networking. It is the platform for the advancement of technology, a forum for idea exchange and a launch pad for innovation connecting Latin America, North America and Europe. The conference was held June 12-13, at the Miami Beach Convention Center.