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Forward Motion: A Techweek Detroit Recap

Forward Motion: A Techweek Detroit Recap

by TODD STOLARSKI in Detroit | April 23, 2015

For its second time around, Techweek in Detroit leveled up. After the inaugural edition last year saw the tech, music, and fashion expo occupy the Federal Reserve building, but with popularity swelling and an expected doubling of 2014 attendees, they found the building with the largest capacity in the city. Ford Field was the spot where it all went down this year. With the Motor City's rich manufacturing background, we were eager to get our paws on what Techweek had scheduled for the Lions' den this time around. 

Ted Serbinski, right, balancing spinning plates.

Ted Serbinski, right, balancing spinning plates.

Director of the U.S. Patent and Trade Office Michelle Lee early on set the tone by reminding us all "innovation and intellectual property are two of the keys to the future of technology."  Whether you had a 3D printer modification or LED streetlights on showcase, IP allows progress of an owner's invention. Ted Serbinksi knows a lot about that. As Managing Director of startup accelerator, Techstars Mobility he has seen numerous young companies succeed to that next level. Formerly based in Silicon Valley, Serbinski recently relocated to 'The D' and has begun a venture between Techstars and Ford. During his fireside chat, Serbinski spoke of balancing all of the plates in his day-to-day: "It's not about work life balance.  It's about work-life integration." 

Lauren Love-Wright, voicing Verizon's civic ambitions.

Lauren Love-Wright, voicing Verizon's civic ambitions.

Illuminating Concepts doesn't want to balance your life, they only wants to make it brighter. Based in Farmington Hills, MI they created Intellistreets.  A connected streetlight shown as part of Verizon's smart cities initiative. The IoT streetlamps have an LED sign to remind you the George Condo exhibit is at the museum, has the ability to play ambient music, and will even notify the city when a bulb requires replacement. Exhibited during Techweek's Emerging Cities Summit, the Intellistreets played a crucial role of Verizon's smart cities initiative presented by their Michigan president Lauren Love-Wright.  Now, with society well into the consumer age, Ms. Love-Wright stressed the need for increased personal bandwidth "Our customers have never been so data hungry." She was right.  People there were going wild on the Wi-Fi.

Innovation and intellectual property are two of the keys to the future of technology.
— Michelle Lee, Director, U.S. Patent and Trade Office
And the cup goes to...   (Photo: Techweek)

And the cup goes to...   (Photo: Techweek)

Techweek's Launch competition saw 50 local startups present to a team of anonymous venture capitalists and tech experts. Among the five remaining companies who pitched to the judges were East Lansing based Pridgit. The company began with three Michigan State University students and a simple concept: "3D printing, without the 3D printer." They provide a marketplace for both consumers and designers. One stop shopping in the 3D world. Although Pridgit didn't win Techweek Detroit's Launch Competion (that went to Slope), we were intrigued enough by their idea to have them participate in our Judgment Night event! If any doubt was present previously, the Launch Competition proved that the entrepreneurial drive is alive and well here in Detroit.

Eventbrite - BuiltWorlds Judgment Night
It’s not about work life balance. It’s about work life integration
— Ted Serbinski, Managing Director, Techstars

 Last year, for some of their promotional materials, the conference organizers of Techweek Detroit used a favorite local slogan "Detroit Hustles Harder." After witnessing the passion and ingenuity among those local tech inclined individuals, it would be appropriate if  Techweek began using another motor city mantra: "Nothing Stops Detroit". As Techweek first came to the city, it had recently endured, a well publicized, crossroads moment. A fork in the road moment for a city that has, for over a century, been getting people to where they need to be. Maybe it's something in the water? The blue collar nature, or in their manufacturing blood? Evidently, they have chosen to take the road that leads them towards the path of technology evolution. Over a century later and they are still getting people to where they need to be, just in a different ways. 

All photos, unless credited otherwise, are property of BuiltWorlds Media.

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