Charm City’s entrepreneurs, community leaders, scientists, developers, gamers and others are all convening once again for the sixth annual Baltimore Innovation Week.
This year, Baltimore Innovation Week host Technical.ly Media has partnered with the Emerging Technology Center, the Baltimore Development Corporation’s local entrepreneurship hub, on a week’s worth of events focusing on our city’s innovative potential. (Fishbowl alum and Technical.ly editor-reporter Stephen Babcock will be at a number of them, schmoozing, emceeing and interviewing some big names.)
A central goal for organizers is to make all of the events spread across the city inclusive, particularly to those who aren’t insiders in this whole scene. Technical.ly Media publisher Christopher Wink said in an email that this goal in part made the Emerging Technology Center (ETC) an ideal collaborator.
“ETC will open its doors to anyone who is less familiar with incubators or coworking,” he said. “We’re trying to demystify this all a bit, and ETC is a natural partner for that.”
BIW’s organizers have split the next week up to be easily traversable to anyone who’s not too familiar with all that Baltimore’s tech community has to offer.
The week begins on Saturday, with the Social Innovation Lab’s Impact Bootcamp, designed for anyone seeking to brainstorm ideas that can help their neighborhood, or perhaps start a new organization to help with a specific cause. That’s happening at Mountcastle Auditorium in Middle East near Hopkins Hospital, starting at 9 a.m. on Sept. 30.
Another event that day: a “Healthier Communities Through Technology” session at New Beginnings Barber Shop in Hollins Market, which will cover ways to harness technology to improve public health at the neighborhood level. That begins at 10 a.m.
These are just a couple examples of BIW’s socially focused programming. Wink said his company and other news outlets are well-positioned to host events like these that bring together local residents, problem-solvers and those with the capital to help.
“I think any organization with journalism DNA is better suited than any other group to rally its community,” he said. “There are too many people in a place like Baltimore who need support and convening, and I want journalists to be the ones who are doing that work.”
With work on the mind, techies, entrepreneurs, developers and scientists will have plenty to keep their gears turning throughout the week. There’s “Start. Fund. Grow.” on Tuesday at Price Modern on Sisson Street, which will feature investors and company founders talking venture capital fundraising and the startup incubation process.
Scientists, investors, policymakers and others will be on-hand on Wednesday at UMD’s School of Pharmacy for a conference to talk through Baltimore’s newest and pending breakthroughs from the local science community.
Thursday will offer a whole day reserved just for developers and software engineers at UB’s John and Frances Angelos Law Center, with everything from programming workshops to lectures from experienced coders.
These events and others will collectively take stock of Baltimore’s tech scene in 2017, and hopefully shed some light on how it’s positioned for the future. Some people in Baltimore may blink to consider innovation, startups and tech breakthroughs for a city that faces so many infrastructural, social and economic challenges. But as Wink put it, tech isn’t just “a fringe issue among privileged people alone; rather, it’s key to lifting the rest of the city up.”
“Baltimore is in the center of one of the most productive, dense and important regions on the planet, so I believe heartily it has the building blocks to thrive in the future,” he said.
BIW admittedly isn’t all about work, and there will be plenty of opportunities to nerd out or take a break. MICA is offering its fall Game Lab on Sept. 30 at the Dolphin Design Center, with a curated exhibition of games made by students from the school’s BFA in game design program. On Monday, De Kleine Duvel will host “Grumpy Cat’s Guide to Game Design: The Beauty of No,” with a lighthearted beginner’s talk on game design. The fun will go aerial the following weekend, with Open Works hosting yet another drone racing event with Global Air Media on Oct. 7.
Attendees can also enjoy the many happy hours, coffee meetups and networking events planned throughout the week at various co-working spaces, including the Brewers Hill Hub, Betamore, Spark, and ETC’s Beehive Baltimore, among others.