At Delaware Innovation Week, a focus on technology

Frank J. DeSantis
Frank J. DeSantis
Guest Columnist

There’s a storm brewing in the business community. It’s building around technology, and Delaware just may be in the forefront. Delaware Innovation Week held last week, encompassed 20-plus events across Wilmington and New Castle County. It brought together entrepreneurs, technologists, civic leaders and investors.

Two years ago, at the Economic Development Council luncheon, presented by the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce, the keynote speaker was Steven Rosenbaum, entrepreneur-at-large for New York City. What resonated with me was him saying the future was no longer just around biotech or medtech. 

Traditional industries were being disrupted by technology. It was becoming “industrytech,” like financetech and manufacturingtech. We’re already familiar with disruptive technologies. Companies like Uber, Airbnb, Amazon, LinkedIn, eTrade, Turbo Tax, and Expedia have revolutionized entire industries. These are frictionless business models, where technologies are used to identify and resolve inefficient processes in every industry. DeliveryCircle, a Delaware start-up, has done this for small package delivery; matching drivers, consumers and merchants in a fast, easy, seamless transaction. Soon, every company will be a software company. 

Fast-forward to today in Delaware. Established incubators, the Emerging Enterprise Center and Delaware Technology Park have been joined by the CoinLoft and 1313 Innovation, giving start-ups and entrepreneurs different types of workspaces. Zipcode, an intense 12-week program that trains people how to code was launched with the support of private companies like JP Morgan Chase, Capitol One and Chatham Financial. Techies have been getting together at Tech Mashups, and Global StartUp Weekends, to exchange ideas and build a community. Technical.ly came to Delaware. Technical.ly grows local technology communities by connecting organizations and people through news, events and services.

Delaware Innovation Week ran Nov. 13 to Nov. 20. There were events built around major tracks: Business, Civic, Creative, Dev (Development) and Media, plus events that companies and organizations staged that were incorporated into those tracks. Two specific events demonstrated why Delaware has become a Storm Chaser in this technology tsunami. At Technical.ly Delaware’s Stakeholder Luncheon, 40 people gathered to discuss the state of the tech community in Delaware. Someone commented, “it was a long way from the days when the same tech people sat around telling each other over and over again that something needed to be done.” You had Jeff Flynn from the City of Wilmington, the NCC Chamber of Commerce, along with graphic designers, developers, bankers, coders, and entrepreneurs sharing ideas, accomplishments, challenges and goals. It was a picture of diversity not typically seen in either a techie group, or in the boardroom. And the 2015 Innovation Awards was another example. There were typical “tech-type” companies recognized, but two were not typical; #HugACop, a viral campaign by the Newark Police Department, and Delaware Libraries, for extending STEM & 3D Printing literacy to its branches.

Delawareans, coming together, can do amazing things. What I saw at Delaware Innovation Week makes me believe that our community can harness the storm’s energy and be the model for the new technology age that’s coming. Come join us!

Frank J. DeSantis is program director for the Emerging Enterprise Center, a business incubator that helps start-ups focus their efforts on driving business growth, developing business skills, and creating a scalable and sustainable business model, by providing support, access to resources and advice, in a nurturing environment.

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