In fall 2010, when we at Technical.ly first launched Philly Tech Week, our goal was to contribute to a more unified tech community in Philadelphia.
Back then, the independent creatives, advanced technologists, digital access advocates, future-thinking business leaders and entrepreneurs we spent our days interviewing seemed poised to collaborate, but hadn’t much yet. Philly Tech Week, then, was an in-person manifestation of what we were trying to accomplish with our daily reporting at Technical.ly.
By 2018, that original goal felt sufficiently accomplished. Of all the existing shortcomings of Philadelphia’s tech community, it no longer seemed that a lack of awareness was one of them. Publicly, we launched a new mission statement for Philly Tech Week, and internally, we set our sights on our 10th annual — which was due for May 2020. We had grand visions of our largest, most collaborative celebration of technology, entrepreneurship and innovation yet. One that would also mark a transition to a new era of PTW as an economic development driver at a new level, for which we at Technical.ly were not the right central organizer.
As you might have guessed, 2020 derailed what were quite active discussions on the matter. Everyone involved scattered to get their respective houses in order. We postponed PTW and produced a trimmer, all-virtual edition back in September. Once we got to the other side, we knew we needed to return to that important conversation of the future of the institution of Philly Tech Week: a shared, collaborative, open calendar of this region’s economic future.
Today I am thrilled that we at Technical.ly are announcing that we will partner with longstanding tech community organizer and regional tech council Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies (PACT) on producing the 11th annual Philly Tech Week Presented by Comcast, returning to its traditional springtime timing to run May 7 through 15, 2021.
Due to COVID-19, we fully expect this edition to also be held mostly, if not entirely, online only. Fortunately though, we’ve all learned quite a bit about how to make these experiences special.
What does this mean? Technical.ly will still produce our future-of-work conference Introduced by Technical.ly and the Technical.ly Developers Conference. Our newsroom will still track closely who, how and why this community of professionals celebrates and comes together in the spring. Organizationally, we’re still quite committed to how important it is to have one shared, annual tradition for those most pushing forward this region’s economy.
But for 2021, we at Technical.ly are ceding the crucial community organizing role for Philly Tech Week: engaging and curating a community calendar of events, centralizing the week’s messaging and taking the lead at ensuring there is widespread representation and collaboration during the week.
Many organizations in this region must play a role in shaping PTW now and in the future, but one emerged as the clear partner to serve this important central organizing function: PACT. They are an ideal complement to the strengths of Technical.ly, which has spent more than a decade tracking and reporting on economic change in a variety of cities, including our hometown of Philadelphia, and helping our community of professionals find career opportunities in the tech economy.
Philly Tech Week was never a product exclusively of Technical.ly. Each year dozens of organizations and hundreds of individuals helped produce the week. Still, as Philly Tech Week has continued to grow, it’s become clearer that the important community organizing work needed more specialized support.
Fortunately PACT has shown itself unusually able to adapt and collaborate across wider swaths of this regional economy. They are the engaged partners and supporters of the Philadelphia Global Identity Partnership and the PHL Innovation Picnic. In response to further focus on diversity and inclusion, they’ve transformed their programming to focus on underrepresented entrepreneurs. Their program MentorConnect is the exact sort of thing we believe needs to be embedded inside Philly Tech Week. Through PACT’s foundation, they support OnE Philadelphia, a major initiative spearheaded by Coded by Kids, a longtime Philly Tech Week partner.
In short, PACT has shown a commitment to the issues and capacity we want for Philly Tech Week. We at Technical.ly will be able to focus on our strengths, and bring in PACT to deploy theirs.
On a personal note, I’ve done too much reporting on redundant economic development efforts to make “collaboration” something more than a buzzword. Simply put, Technical.ly is a news organization that drives connections for our community of professionals, and as Philly Tech Week has grown, it has exceeded our core competencies. Rather than start some new organization, I did what I wish more economic development leaders did. I called up Dean Miller, who, incidentally, has a reputation for avoiding redundancies to meet goals — see the 2010 nonprofit merger he led that resulted in PACT.
What happens after May? Technical.ly and PACT have conceived of this as a trial. Confronting just how chaotic 2020 was and the first half of 2021 will be, it seemed wise to focus first on this year. We’ll get to evaluate and determine if the partnership should continue in this form or not.
What happens now? We go and organize the best 11th annual Philly Tech Week there can be. With support from the Technical.ly team, PACT is already starting the process. We’ll share more here on Technical.ly as we follow along.