Local innovation leader Jeff Vinik will be presented with the inaugural Innovation Catalyst Award at this week’s Bitcoin & Blockchain Summit at Tampa’s Amalie Arena.
On behalf of the Florida Bitcoin & Blockchain Summit and the Florida Blockchain Business Association (FBBA), St. Pete Catalyst publisher Joe Hamilton will present the metal award, which features Vinik on an artist’s rendering of the Metacity Fluent coin.
Additionally, Hamilton will give Vinik a thumb drive with the award loaded onto it as a non-fungible token (NFT).
Vinik will receive the award Friday (Nov. 5), following ARK Investment’s Cathie Wood’s keynote speech on the second day of the summit. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and the St. Petersburg Mayor-elect are expected to attend the presentation.
Vinik also owns Amelia Arena, which is hosting the two-day event, and the Tampa Bay Lightning, current Stanley Cup champions.
“Jeff Vinik is building the physical infrastructure that is allowing us to connect internally to build the virtual infrastructure of the future,” said Chris Krimitsos, founder of the Florida Bitcoin & Blockchain Summit.
Vinik is widely known for investing in emerging technologies and innovative companies throughout Tampa Bay. Notably, he committed $10 million to establish Embarc Collective in March 2019.
Embarc Collective is an education nonprofit focused on technology, innovation and entrepreneurship. Now home to over 100 companies with a total of 234 team members, the collective is the fastest-growing startup hub in Florida. In just over 2.5 years, Embarc companies have raised over $107 million in venture capital.
In March, the Vinik Sports Group company launched Backing the Bay, a program that provides free, custom marketing services to locally-owned small businesses in the Tampa Bay area.
“The reason why he’s the Innovation Catalyst is because he’s designed the physical infrastructure to allow the intentional collisions between people and ideas that spawn innovation”
Part of that virtual infrastructure of the future are platforms such as the Metacity. Metacity is a virtual operating system for a physical city and will be debuting its latest innovations at the summit.
Hamilton, who is also Head of Network for Metacity and the St. Petersburg Community Leader for the FBBA, believes Vinik’s very presence in the community has inspired the entire Tampa Bay region to innovate.
“Jeff has driven many specific initiatives to make our community better, but I believe his presence delivers the biggest impact,” said Hamilton. “That he chose to bring his level of vision and activation to us has elevated our entire region to not only believe – but to expect – that Tampa Bay is a top place in the world to call home.”
For more information on the Florida Bitcoin and Blockchain Summit, visit its website here.