(Photo by Olivia Obineme)
Communities are defined by traditions and the people who keep them.
With the fifth annual Baltimore Innovation Week kicking off next week (Sept. 23-Oct. 1), which we at Technical.ly organize with the help of partners like this year’s title sponsor, 14 West, we’re taking stock of what got us here.
Though there are many more, we couldn’t help but notice five leaders in Baltimore’s innovation community who have been a part of every single BIW, including this one.
Deb Tillett, Emerging Technology Centers
Among the first year’s events was one that stands out as one distinctly representative of Deb Tillet, the colorful gaming executive who in spring 2012 became the director of the city-backed Emerging Technology Centers.
Then still at the original ETC location at the Can Company complex in Canton, Tillet played host to an intimate affair that included the soon-to-launch Venture for America (now another rock of Baltimore’s startup ecosystem) and this still very new tech news site itself. In ensuing BIWs, she has told stories of failure, moderated investor discussions and addressed a special City Council hearing. Tillet is serving the role of front-door for tech entrepreneurship to many.
As a past winner of an Innovation Award (for both ETC and Deb herself), one place to find Tillet during BIW could be the closing Baltimore Innovation Awards.
The Impact Innovator
Rodney Foxworth, Invested Impact
To many, the ever-smiling Rodney Foxworth was among the first voices behind Baltimore’s social entrepreneurship movement, now embodied by Impact Hub, the physical space organized by many of his peers. Foxworth, whom this reporter first met on a train leaving Hampden, was the earliest influence that no Baltimore tech or startup event series could happen without a focus on its impact on the city.
If you want to find Foxworth during Innovation Week, head to Invested Impact’s Philanthropy and Social Innovation in the Age of #BlackLivesMatter.
The Academic Liaison
Jane Shaab, University of Maryland BioPark
With the gargantuan economic impact of a certain research university to the north (which is hosting, among other events, the second MedHacks hackathon during BIW), outsiders might miss the outsized role that the University of Maryland has, specifically with its growing BioPark.
For decades, you haven’t talked about innovative economic development in Baltimore without meeting Jane Shaab, now the director of the BioPark who helped realize its expanding campus with a single photo. It’s telling then that Shaab and the BioPark have been involved in each and every BIW.
To find Shaab during Innovation Week, you’ll come to the Sciences Conference day, which Shaab and the BioPark are hosting.
The Startup Champion
Shervonne Cherry, Spark Coworking
From Mindgrub and Dreamit to now Spark Coworking, Shervonne Cherry has been among Baltimore’s bright lights in convening the city’s nascent tech startup community. During past BIWs, she has spoken on geolocation marketing and investment and more.
This year, if you want to find Shervonne during BIW, you’ll be at the Business Conference, a morning of events connecting early founders (then head to Betamore’s Beta City).
Greg Cangialosi, MissionTix
He’s on everybody’s short list for prominent local city-based tech CEOs. And so whether he’s been a mentor at an early Startup Weekend or speaking about growing a company to acquisition, Cangialosi has been an important presence during all five BIWs.
If you want to find Cangialosi during #BIW16, you’ll join the kickoff Innovation Crawl and get inside the offices of his current company, MissionTix.
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