International Advantage is a project development company that works across different sectors. The CEO and Founder of IA Ventures, Georgette Alithinos highlights the impacts of Covid-19 throughout the US, the volumes of projects in diagnostic testing, and the diversification of industries in Florida. She also discussed the shifts in industrial innovation and the emergence of more than 250 startups in the biomedical field after COVID-19 in the state.
We’ve got great talent in and that’s what startups look for. Given its unique position right now, there’s a growth potential for VCs and for startups in Florida.
- 01:14 – There are more jobs in the Miami area, than in all of Europe combined.
- 02:50 – Florida is attracting a lot more VCs and startups in biomedical technology.
- 07:15 – We are working on the susceptibility of different viruses and COVID-19 on each individual and how it would affect them.
- 08:11 – What their susceptibility would be if they would catch COVID-19, or if they do have inflammation, how their body would react.
Georgette Alithinos 00:00
There was a growth potential for VCs and for startups for Florida. Also, we have the unique advantage where there was no personal tax paid.
Fabiola Fleuranvil 00:11
You’re tuning in to the Florida CEO Podcast, produced by Blueprint Creative Group, a strategic communications firm. Today’s guest is Georgette Alithinos, who is the CEO and founder of IA ventures, also International Advantage. Hey Georgette. How are you?
Georgette Alithinos 00:28
Good Fabiola, How about you?
Fabiola Fleuranvil 00:29
Pretty good, thanks for joining. With the Florida CEO Podcast, we’re talking about industry development and growth in the state of Florida. COVID has really done a number across the country, but on the positive side, what it’s done for Florida is attract newcomers. From companies to startups, to venture capital, to even residents and we’re seeing in markets like South Florida that are attracting companies coming in from the West coast, even prior to COVID. We were seeing that type of dynamic between central Florida, South Florida, Jacksonville has had its own growth. You stand from a very unique position because IA is a project development company in a variety of industries, Right. Tell us a bit about IA first.
Georgette Alithinos 01:14
Okay, Fabiola thank you very much for the opportunity to be on your podcast. Basically yes, IA, International Advantage, was founded in 1993 and we’re a project development company, having worked across different sectors. One of the sectors, actually it was Marinas and Yacht, which as you know in Florida, it’s a huge sector. Basically, there are more jobs in the Miami area, than in all of Europe combined. We’re talking about that kind of volume, and so from that perspective, even though we saw that; I mean, obviously, we know that COVID-19 has caused such; it has costed about 16 trillion in the United States right now.
We saw that Florida actually was fairing out pretty well economically, and even though, for example, for tourism, we had 21.4 million tourists, that’s actually, no, I take that back. It’s 86.7 million tourists for 2020 and it’s a $40 billion market. In that respect, we’re doing well, but also in the biomedical technology, I think that Florida is attracting a lot more VCs and a lot more startups. That is also another thing that we are involved in right now, which is for diagnostic testing, for not only COVID-19, but other viruses as well and disease, so we see growth potential in Florida.
Fabiola Fleuranvil 03:04
Okay, so with the bio-sector, the types of projects that you’re seeing a lot more volume in the diagnostic testing? Are you seeing any other types of biotech firms or projects being developed or founded here?
Georgette Alithinos 03:17
Yeah lots, for example, there’s a company out of Fort Lauderdale that does protective devices such as masks and stuff and hand sanitizers and so forth. There’s a lot with that as well, so I think COVID itself was able to create a different sector of companies that wouldn’t have existed otherwise.
Fabiola Fleuranvil 03:45
Let’s backtrack a bit. In Florida we’ve largely been a tourism and hospitality state, right, so, different sections of the state, different corners of business have always discussed. What does industry diversification look like? Obviously we have the port which presents a huge sector for us. You mentioned, cruising and yachting life that’s all part of the same sector. When we talk about industry diversification, that’s where biotech and some of these other software development and other types of sectors present opportunities. Now in Miami, what’s unique is that the mayor has been campaigning or making a pitch to the startup world, to the VC world, for them to relocate to Miami.
Since everyone’s looking to see where COVID is shifting new companies in innovation. Where do you think Florida still stands to gain when it comes to industry diversification and our ability to be more competitive in certain industries or certain markets, or even our global competitiveness. Being in the Southern hub, we compete against markets like Metro Atlanta, and then we have Texas and Austin who are totally crushing it. Where do you think that we still have some work to do or what we stand to gain if only we would just leverage and maximize certain sectors a bit more?
Georgette Alithinos 05:10
Well, I think that will really position right now for something like this, and the mayor’s initiative. Although, right now we get 1% of the VCs that are down for Florida, but we do have approximately 260 new startups that are just in the biomedical technology sector. Yes, the competition is fierce, because obviously we bought Atlanta and like you said, Texas, and we also have other areas, like for example, Boston, LA and so forth. But I think due to COVID and the way that a lot of the States have been handling it, I think that there was an opportunity for Florida to grow in that sector.
I think it’s a great initiative, I think that there is; first of all, we’ve got great talent that’s what startups look for, right. Given its unique position right now, I think that they can grow in that sector as well. International trade, for example; a lot of people don’t realize that, but it’s a $60 billion market just for portraying either aviation parts or other manufactured goods there. Yes, I do see that there’s a growth potential for VCs and for startups for Florida. Also, we have the unique advantage where there’s no personal tax paid on there.
Fabiola Fleuranvil 06:47
You mentioned the biotech sector and then you said that there’s 260 or so new biotech firms that have started in the state since when, what’s the time period for that number?
Georgette Alithinos 06:58
From 2018 to about January, 2021.
Fabiola Fleuranvil 07:05
Okay, and what type of products or manufacturing or focus? Are you seeing a lot of concentration in-out of the 260, do you have any clue?
Georgette Alithinos 07:15
Well, some of them are manufactured again for masks, sanitizers; but there’s also, like for example, our company, and one of the things that we’re working on is diagnostic testing, which is critical. I mean, it’s basically, working on the susceptibility of different viruses and COVID-19 on each individual and how it would affect them. You’ve got other diagnostic companies that are doing different testing and so on. It’s just a variety of different companies from testing to sanitizers, to masks, to other items that are specifically for COVID-19.
Fabiola Fleuranvil 07:59
Okay, so any recent highlights or news or updates about IA that you’d like to share? Anything that you’re looking forward to? What’s the biggest outlook for you right now with the company?
Georgette Alithinos 08:11
It’s probably our diagnostics. We’re very excited about it, because it’s not just for COVID-19, but it’s also for inflammation. I mean, For neurodegenerative diseases and cancer, it basically creates biomarkers to where we are, to tell each person where they range and what their susceptibility would be if they would catch COVID-19, or if they do have inflammation, what their body would react.
Fabiola Fleuranvil 08:43
Got it. Okay, well, it’s been a pleasure talking to you.
Georgette Alithinos 08:47
Same here. Thank you very much again for having me on your podcast.
Fabiola Fleuranvil 08:53
Thanks again for tuning in to the Economic Development Podcast, presented by Blueprint Creative Group. There are more episodes featuring economic development leaders throughout the country. And we thank all of the participants for sharing their perspectives. Check out all of the episodes in this series at blueprintcreativegroup.com/economicdevelopment.