Starting Friday, it’s all about robots, hackathons, advanced coding, entrepreneurship and more.
The second annual Philly Tech Week kicks off, and with over 80 events in a nine-day schedule (click here for the full list) it promises to be bigger and better than last year’s inaugural version, which was a success in its own right.
And it's giving some serious credibility to the Philadelphia technology scene.
The brainchild of the guys behind Technically Philly (Christopher Wink, Sean Blanda and Brian James Kirk), the event, as Kirk says, “is not just about geeks, gadgets and games. It's about making things better here (in Philadelphia).” Many of the events are free with registration at phillytechweek.com.
NBC10 is proud to be a media partner in the nine-day technology extravaganza, and we caught up with two of the three founders to get their thoughts on the upcoming week, what they really hope to get out of it and more.
What is the overall goal of Philly Tech Week, in your own words?
Wink: We aim to get as many Philadelphians as we can to stand up and scream at the same time that this region is innovative. Additionally, the week is becoming a launching pad for announcements, project launches and more around technology and innovation. Suddenly the industry here has a built-in deadline every year.
Kirk: With an already close-knit community standing side-by side for an entire week, it'll be hard to miss--in the city, region, country. Hopefully, the Tech Week message can reach new citizens in Philly who may already be a part of the technology community and never knew it (or admitted it). We mean it when we say that everyone can find an event on our calendar that is interesting, exciting or educational.
What do you expect to be the major improvements over year one?
Wink: Broader awareness, stronger and more varied events.
Kirk: We knew it would grow, and it has: from 65 last year to more than 80 events this year. But in 2012, the quality of the content is far more impressive. The conversations and collaborations that came to life from last year's Tech Week have resulted in incredibly smart and connected events.
Why is an event like this to bring light to the tech scene in Philadelphia necessary?
Wink: For a lot of reasons, Philadelphia has fallen behind in developing the reputation, both here and elsewhere, for leading innovation, in business, technology and elsewhere, so any successes we do have face an uphill climb to gain broader recognition. By bringing together the infrastructure that can make Philadelphia competitive globally, the region stands a better chance of scaling success.
Kirk: The tech scene's impact on the local economy, on literacy and education, and on municipal government reform, is quickly growing. The scene is seizing the day when it comes to helping to shape urban renewal in Philadelphia. We want that spotlighted. It's not just about geeks, gadgets and games. It's about making things better here.
As organizers, what would be the best thing you’d see come out of the next nine days?
Wink: The perception of Philadelphia continues to be shaped more positively in the minds of locals and outsiders.
Kirk: We love to hear stories from the uninitiated. The best tech-community-newcomer stories come in two stages: First, it's "Holy crap, I didn't know this existed." Second, it's "When can I do this again next?" We want to hear that a 100,000 times.
What events are you most excited about?
Wink: Switch Philly, which will pit 5 of the coolest new local startups seeking a sweet prize pack judged by Mayor Nutter, noted venture capitalist Josh Kopleman and respected investor Ellen Weber. The free lunchtime series events at WHYY, which are free and varied and offer the chance to donate laptops to low-income Philadelphians, and the Friday signature event, which will be the week's big celebration, with an open bar, appetizers and an expo of locally-produced technology, like robots and video games, to play with.
Kirk: The Philly Robotics Expo has 1,000 people registered, so many that the organizers had to close registrations. That's an incredible example of growth. When we see that kind of measurable enthusiasm, we can't help but cheer it on.
When it comes to technology in Philadelphia, how does an event like this help shape the future?
Wink: It becomes easier to retain and attract talent because the truest strength of innovative hubs is the proximity to success.
Kirk: One word: Robots.