(Photo by Aidan Un)
The Philly tech scene has undoubtedly arrived, so what’s next?
This year, we watched the tech community come together to advocate for its interests, whether it was booking more women speakers at conferences, getting Comcast to be a better corporate citizen or turning Philly into a health IT hub.
What’s the meaning of all of this? As we wrote in an earlier story: “It suggests the scene’s growing power, a stronger collective identity and a will for civic engagement — notably different from the conventional image of a tech scene that’s out of touch and only cares about growth and their next round of funding.”
And with great power … you know the adage. What we mean is: as the tech scene grows and organizes and finds its voice, how will it use its power? What will the tech scene organize around in 2016? (Perhaps around making sure local communities don’t get displaced when major tech-related real estate developments begin to rise?)
Here’s a look at how the tech scene organized in 2015. Let us know what we missed in the comments.
- Entrepreneur network Philly Startup Leaders organized to make sure the tech-business voice was heard loud and clear during the mayoral primary. We were part of that effort, too, creating and sending out a mayoral questionnaire about local tech issues and hosting a mayoral debate during Philly Tech Week 2015 presented by Comcast.
- Members of coworking space Indy Hall organized a group to attend public hearings on the city’s Comcast franchise negotiations. They held meetups to prep for the hearings, too. During the process, Indy Hall cofounder Alex Hillman said civic engagement was one way for the tech scene to “channel its optimism,” instead of solely focusing on, “How do I fix my startup?”
- Philly’s women in tech community teamed up with women technologists from across the East Coast to organize ELA Conf, a women-in-tech leadership conference that drew speakers and attendees from across the country. Women technologists like Corey Leigh Latislaw, Yash Prabhu and Audrey Troutt were also part of a campaign to get more women speakers at Android conference DroidCon.
- Philly’s business community — including legacy healthcare organizations like Jefferson, Independence Blue Cross and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia — got serious about making the region a hub for health IT and launched the HealthCare Innovation Collaborative, a $2.4 million initiative.
- The Philly tech community got on Slack. Us too!
- The civic hackers of Code for Philly appointed leaders (and executed programs like the second annual open source mentorship for women).
- The scene got more and more meetup groups for those on the fringes of the mainstream tech scene, like The ITEM, which joined #techincolor and Philly Tech Sistas in organizing entrepreneurs and technologists of color, Lesbians Who Tech and a new series of dev talks with Philly.rb and PhillyJS for those who are coding beginners, organized by New York Code + Design Academy’s Constance Ip and Weblinc’s Dana Giordano.
- Comcast held a diversity and inclusion summit for local businesses and we wondered if the local giant would take this a step further and continue to organize the business community around this issue.