Published by St. Augustine Record and Written by Colleen Michele Jones
St. Johns County innovator and tech leader Raghu Misra is working to fill a void he sees in Northeast Florida: a central hub and cowork space where people of all ages can connect, interact and collaborate with like-minded individuals, businesses and creators.
The project, called "the link," is under construction at the Nocatee Town Center, close to the Ponte Vedra Beach community where Misra and his family call home.
In December 2019, Misra introduced the concept for the hub — a first for St. Johns County — in an interview with The Record, saying: “There’s no one place where tech entrepreneurs can go to exchange ideas and network.”
Since then, Misra has expanded the idea to include activity programming for kids, as well as others, to stimulate their curiosity and creativity ranging from yoga classes to "games from around the world."
"I think we all realize the need to reduce the screen time of our young people and encourage interpersonal skills," Misra added.
Green construction and cutting-edge technology
More recently, Misra, who will serve as CEO, announced that he is building the 22,500-square-foot building according to the highest standards of green construction and also wiring it with cutting-edge technology that increases its energy efficiency to the point of making it a virtual Net-Zero Energy Building.
To oversee the build-out of infrastructure, the link has employed smartengine wtec which designs what it calls "intelligent buildings" equipped with sensors that automatically turn electrical and cooling systems on and off in rooms based on their occupancy or vacancy 24/7.
Tim Miscovich, chief commercial officer for wtec who is also a resident of St. Augustine, said that while the company has mostly enterprise-level clients across the globe, this is a groundbreaking development for St. Johns County.
"There's not really anything like this in Northeast Florida," Miscovich said. "It will truly be a building of the future."
Misra added: "With the inclusion of the latest and greatest technologies of IOT sensors, artificial intelligence building controls, among others, wtec will deliver world-class comfort to our members and also make the building ultra-sustainable. The various technologies we will have at the link will bring out anyone's inner tech nerd." Miscovich said that with all the uses Misra has planned, it will allow individual rooms within the community center to adjust accordingly to their own needs and schedule.
Misra envisions the link as a place where members come to "Learn-Play-Think-Do," as their slogan goes. Fees will be subscription-based but rates have not been finalized yet.
Professionals could pay a monthly cowork fee and also take advantage of other on-site services that might benefit startups in the incubation period, such as legal advisers or venture capital firms.
Misra’s own Jacksonville-based firm, Wired2Perform, specialize