Can Kingston, Jamaica become Miami’s tech sister city?
If you live in Miami, chances are you’ve met at least one Jamaican. Maybe you have even vacationed in Montego Bay or Ocho Rios, but did you know there is a thriving tech scene in Jamaica’s capital, Kingston?
A few months ago I left Kingston on my first post-pandemic trip to witness firsthand the atmosphere that is causing the mass exodus of tech companies to the city of Miami. While there, I was drawn into the warm embrace of the Miami tech scene’s culture and collaborative nature. I could not help but notice the similarity in the strides Kingston and Miami have been making in developing their tech ecosystems. Both cities have been developing their communities and investing in people through education and increased exposure.
Thanks to technology the world has expanded, allowing many cities to do more international business and commerce. For the city of Miami, countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have been a source of goods and services in various industries ($50B+ in exports and $29B+ in imports). As the technology industry has grown in Miami, a unique opportunity has emerged for technology services to be sourced from these same regions to support Miami’s local tech ecosystem. A big part of the supporting structure of a thriving ecosystem is talent. Access to talent outside of the competitive US market can help with the sustainability of the growth for an ecosystem like Miami.
In Kingston, that talent abounds. The University of Technology and The University of West Indies produce 200+ computer science graduates each year. Kingston is teeming with startups, highly skilled developers, and designers, all of whom are looking for opportunities to work alongside companies all over the world. My company, Norus Technologies, works with clients all over the US providing software development and product consulting services for organizations. One of the most interesting collaborations we’ve done to date has been with a maternal health company based in Orlando that we helped to not only launch their first mobile app but also develop a profitable line of business centered around online learning and accreditation for maternity clinics and healthcare workers.
Kingston is also the home of service companies such as Digita Global Marketing & BlueDot Insights that are doing amazing work with clients all over the world. These service companies, among others, work with a variety of clientele in areas including data analytics, digital marketing and design . Kingston also houses a number of startups like Edufocal, Gift.me and Tiny Acquisitions, each of which works with various clients throughout Jamaica and the United States to create solutions that can scale globally.
While some companies, like Automattic and Apple, have taken the opportunity to tap into the local talent pool for employees for both senior and junior technical talent, Jamaicans are often overlooked as technical service providers. This is due to a lack of awareness of the breadth of talent and resources available in Jamaica’s technology arena. With the number of students graduating from local universities with computer science degrees and technical skills, this talent will only continue to grow.
Miami is uniquely poised to benefit from the talent in Kingston, Jamaica which is closer to Miami than New York and San Francisco (just 558 miles) and is the 3rd largest English-speaking country in the western hemisphere. There is an amazing opportunity for collaboration between Kingston and Miami, which could produce an enigmatic mix of perspectives, creativity, and impact. This relationship could foster the launch of new companies and the economic growth of both cities while attracting both capital and clout. I believe in this opportunity so much that I have decided to open an office in Miami to join the local community.
As the growth of the tech industry in both markets continues, interesting products, services, and innovations will start to pop up. Stakeholders on both sides of the equation have to be intentional about how we integrate and build this connection. The first step to that is awareness, so next time you think about finding supporting talent for your company ensure that you think about Kingston, Jamaica.