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StartUP FIU’s EcoAtlas Finalist for Fast Company World Changing Ideas 2018 Awards

Miami, FL  April 9, 2018 – Fast Company, a leading innovation and entrepreneurship publication, announced today that Studio Roberto Rovira, a Miami company founded by an FIU faculty member and creator of the EcoAtlas, is a finalist in this year’s World Changing Ideas 2018 award. As a finalist in the Photography and Visualization award category, Rovira’s EcoAtlas joins a prestigious group that in 2017 included winners IDEO, the world-renowned design firm, and the Nature Conservancy. The EcoAtlas is a comprehensive open source design and visualization platform that communicates vast amounts of information about the natural world through simple and engaging data maps.

The EcoAtlas is the creation of Roberto Rovira, Associate Professor and former chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture and + Environmental and Urban Design at Florida International University in the College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts (CARTA). “The issue of environmental sustainability is in many ways an information issue and the EcoAtlas brings alive the consequences of decisions like sea level rise on plants and animals in a visually compelling way,” states Rovira, “The EcoAtlas enables overwhelming amounts of data about complex natural patterns to be intuitively understandable.”

Trained as an engineer and landscape architect, Rovira was quite comfortable creating the design and functionality of the EcoAtlas, but when he thought about commercializing his product, he turned to StartUP FIU. Rovira was admitted into Cohort 4 of StartUP FIU’s Empower Accelerator, which started classes in January 2018.  The intensive 14-week program designed to help students, faculty and community members scale their idea, invention or company. Says Rovira, “It’s been an intensely rewarding experience that has provided multiple resources to build momentum for the successful launch and execution of my vision.”

Rovira is part of a new movement led by StartUP FIU to increase support for innovation and entrepreneurship at FIU. “It’s wonderful to see faculty in the Cohorts,” says Kate Sackman, Director of the Empower Accelerator, “They have such a wealth of information and domain expertise. We just need to demystify the entrepreneurial process to help them commercialize their ideas and research.”

Rovira agrees, “It is an honor to be recognized as a finalist by such a prestigious publication and awards program that values innovation aimed at addressing real world problems. My ambition has been to achieve maximum impact and global reach with the EcoAtlas. With support from StartUP FIU and now the Fast Companyrecognition, I can see a path towards achieving that goal.”

 

About the World Changing Ideas Awards

World Changing Ideas is one of Fast Company’s major annual awards programs and is focused on social good, seeking to elevate finished products and brave concepts that make the world better. A panel of judges from across sectors choose winners and finalists based on feasibility and the potential for impact. With a goal of awarding ingenuity and fostering innovation, Fast Company draws attention to ideas with great potential and helps them expand their reach to inspire more people to start work on solving the problems that affect us all.

 

About StartUP FIU

StartUP FIU is a university-wide initiative at Florida International University (FIU) to foster and develop innovation and entrepreneurship that pursues opportunities of The Fourth Industrial Revolution. These opportunities include the development of breakthrough technologies, the pursuit of enterprises that close social or environmental gaps and the creation of companies that can create meaningful jobs of the future. StartUP FIU is focused on developing traditional and social entrepreneurship among students, faculty and staff, alumni and the South Florida community, leveraging the university’s strengths to stimulate commercial investment and job growth in the process. For more information on StartUP FIU, visit startup.fiu.edu.

About EcoAtlas

EcoAtlas communicates the seasonal changes of the natural world and serves as a comprehensive design and visualization tool. It bridges art, science, design, and technology, and connects the power of data and technology to help designers, planners, and anyone interested in better understanding and transforming the environment. By using intuitive, graphic mappings that can convey changes in bloom times, deciduous tree patterns, produce seasonality, animal migrations, and other time-dependent phenomena, the Ecological Atlas facilitates a comprehensive understanding of the environment. For information, contact Roberto Rovira (rovirar@fiu.edu) Associate Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental and Urban Design (LAEUD), College of Architecture and the Arts, Florida International University.

How to get from poverty to prosperity

The Prosperity Project from TheNewTropic on Vimeo.

By: Ariel Zirulnick

Hey! Breaking news! Miami has some affordability issues.

Okay, not actually breaking news. But #notfakenews either.

Miami Dade County’s poverty rate is 19.8 percent – way higher than the national average. Sixty-one percent of renters spend more than a third of their income on housing. The experts call that being “cost-burdened.” Miami is the third most expensive housing market in the U.S. Only the top 5 percent of earners are gaining in prosperity. The rest of us are struggling more and more to afford the same. The divide has been dubbed the “prosperity gap.”

You’ve probably seen these numbers before. There’s a headline every week about how damn expensive it is to live in Miami, that even people with well-paying professional jobs are paycheck to paycheck; that no millennial is ever going to be able to afford to buy a house here; that our booming real estate and tech industries belie a hollow center.

But what does that mean?

It means that we have a large number of neighbors who are financially precarious. A major medical expense or an unexpected job loss could wipe them out in a month. The number of people in this situation is bigger than anyone realizes.

At The New Tropic, we want to make this city a better place to call home, someplace where people can afford to #livelikeyoulivehere. So does Citi’s Community Development team. So we’re teaming up to explain all this a little better, and start talking solutions through the Prosperity Project. There are some out there we haven’t heard about, and others coming down the pipe. Smart people are asking tough questions and grappling with grim realities to bring us much-needed fixes.

We talked to a few of them in the video above: Miami-Dade County Commissioners Jean Monestime and Daniella Levine-Cava, who have led this conversation in local government; Gretchen Beesing, the CEO of Catalyst Miami, one of our leading anti-poverty organizations; and Emily Gresham, an assistant vice president in FIU’s office of innovation and economic development who has a passion for connecting under-resourced communities to opportunity.

Local is more important than ever. So is getting to know your neighbors. It’s a rocky time right now. Addressing that starts in our backyard, with listening to each other.

So, we want to start by hearing your stories. How do you make it month to month? What would happen if you had to go to the emergency room? If you had a car accident and had to pay your $500 deductible to get it fixed? Could you do it? Would you have to go without something else to do it?

If that’s cool with you, we’d like to ask you a couple questions.

We’re looking forward to having this conversation with you in the coming months. Drop us a line at hello@thenewtropic.com to share your thoughts.

Editor’s note: The poverty rate was updated after publication.