(Photo by Stephen Babcock)
Startups have communication tools that allow them to work and build apart from each other, and outside a central space. But when offered the chance to cluster, they still usually take it. And while it’s not necessarily the main goal, a byproduct of the companies and projects taking root in cities today is a collective breathing of new life into old spaces.
Whether it was at an office with exposed brick that houses a digital marketing firm or the diner from Diner, those ideas played out in several different ways as Baltimore Innovation Week 2016 presented by 14 West began on Friday, Sept. 23.
Along with marking the start of the weeklong slate of nearly 70 events that runs through Oct. 1, the evening’s activities doubled as an invitation for people to check out the Baltimore tech community.
And check it out they did.
A pair of companies in the downtown area, MissionTix and Enradius, opened their doors to visitors. The Enradius team includes veterans of “exited” Baltimore startups like Advertising.com, Millennial Media and MediaGlu. Along with proving once again that it all starts with Advertising.com, Enradius’ moves into geo-fencing and health show that there are new arenas for the technology to play in.
Near the spot where most Baltimoreans head for the Sunday farmer’s market, a different kind of renewal is taking root at the Hollywood Diner. The chrome eatery that starred in Barry Levinson’s 1982 classic is now a center for food trucks, having been taken over by organizers of The Gathering. On Friday, it was a hive of Baltimore startup activity for the Baltimore Innovation Week kickoff.
It was a place to see what’s being developed in Baltimore, as well as how emerging tech can be part of a business like Terry and Belinda Kilby’s Elevated Element.
There were plenty of games that were onscreen, IRL and some that blended the two.
Digital Harbor Foundation students made their own mini-golf hole. Attendees got a taste of Baltimore’s indie video game scene with Under Byte Studios and Pure Bang Games in attendance. Tony Powell of Philosoplay was once again spreading joy with That Rock Paper Scissors Game.
In the virtual reality realm, Studio 217’s Karen Chang and Cole Pritchard gave a glimpse at the next generation of shopping with Mister Mart.
For those who skipped the O’s game to attend, Greg Aring of Seven Hills Games provided a home run derby. This reporter had to get some action in:
There were also signs that word of Baltimore’s tech community continues to travel outside the city. Over at the Baltimore City Robotics Center table, we met Joseph Zhou, a Silicon Valley-based entrepreneur. He’s taking in tech communities on the East Coast, and was sure to stop into Baltimore.
As night fell, the stars came out. Or, since this event was in the center of a city, the planets. The #popscope arrived for a pop-up astronomy event, and quickly spotted Mars and Jupiter to the south.
— #popscope (@bmorepopscope) September 24, 2016