Even if you're not a technology nerd, you've probably noticed more local companies in your App Store, or maybe a drone or two flying overhead, or that a certain cyber-giant recently acquired a Baltimore startup. Well, starting today, it's time to celebrate and learn from all that success as Baltimore Innovation Week kicks off with more than 50 events highlighting technology, entrepreneurship, and innovation in our city.
"This is sort of the anti-conference model," says Christopher Wink, editorial director of news media company Technical.ly, which is organizing the week. "It's an open calendar of events at all different times, locations, and topics—but all in the spirit of how tech is booming in Baltimore."
To make it a bit easier for attendees, #BIW15 (of course it has a hashtag) is broken down into themes: business, creative, access, dev, civic, and media. And to make it even easier, we've asked Wink to highlight six of the can't-miss events for the upcoming week.
"This is an event really of the community, actual technologists and entrepreneurs planning, speaking, and attending these events," he says. "But we really see it as an open house. This is a great, welcoming place to start if you've always had an idea kicking around."
BIW15 Kickoff Festival at Power Plant Live!
When: Friday, September 25, 5-10 p.m.
What: The week's largest single event, partnering with the Gathering food truck rally, and showcasing more than 15 locally built technologies, like apps, video games, and robots.
Why go: "This is meant to be the ultimate, get-your-feet-wet-in-tech event," Wink says. "Have some dinner at a food truck, then walk over and play with a drone."
Robopalooza at the Baltimore Robotics Center
When: Sunday, September 27, 12-5 p.m.
What: A family-friendly afternoon of robots, classic video games, and creative technologies. Robot fans of all ages can build with Lego Mindstorms, build a 'bot to take home, and play robot-inspired video games.
Why go: "This group is doing a lot of fantastic youth robotics learning, which is something that's happening around the country, but there's a strong vibrancy in Baltimore," Wink says. "You'd be surprised what an 8-year-old can build."
Drone Technology Showcase on AOL's Rooftop Deck
When: Monday, September 28, 5-8 p.m.
What: Aerial Array and Elevated Element will take attendees on the roof of the new AOL building in Brewers Hill it demo some of the latest drone developments, including 2D mapping, virtual reality, and commercial video.
Why go: "Anyone can love this event," Wink says. "You've been hearing a lot about drones. This is your chance to play with them and really see them up close and personal."
#RiseoftheRest Road Show at the Baltimore Museum of Industry
When: Monday, September 28, 4-6 p.m.
What: AOL founder Steve Case has been road-tripping around the country to host Shark Tank-style pitch competitions, in which startup companies will be given the chance to pitch a panel of judges and with a $100,000 investment prize.
Why go: "Steven Case has been doing this for a while, to show that there is innovation everywhere, not just in Silicon Valley," Wink says. "This is the ultimate opportunity to hear from and celebrate the most creative startups in the city."
Business Conference and #FailFest at Spark Marketplace
When: Friday, October 2, 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m.
What: A day-long conference, which starts off with entrepreneurs asking experts questions at a lunch-and-learn about the next big steps and ends with #FailFest, where successful business leaders (such as Pixilated Photo's Patrick Rife, MissionTix's Greg Cangialosi, and ETC's Deb Tillett) are candid about past failures.
Why go: "If you have a business plan and you're just starting out, this is a great event," Wink says. "We want to remind people that you're going to have to fail a few times in order to do great things. Some amazing stories come out of here."
Beta City at City Garage
When: Thursday, October 1, 1-10:30 p.m.
What: A giant ticketed party at City Garage, a former industrial space in Port Covington renovated by Kevin Plank. Meant as a cocktail reception and networking event, there will also be awards given out for things like "Best Hacker," "Scientist of the Year," and "Startup of the Year."
Why go: "This is the first event ever to be held here, and will eventually become an incubator space," Wink says. "Plus, this is our opportunity to honor the super-smart technical and business founders that are leading the surge in Baltimore."
See Baltimore Innovation Week's website for a full calendar listing of events.