With its inaugural edition having surpassed expectations, Stamford Innovation Week is returning this year with even more ambitious plans, according to founder Jonathan Winkel.
“Last year we were looking for about 1,000 people to attend and we ended up selling roughly 2,400 tickets,” he said. “We’d love to say it was the best idea ever, but a big part of it was that these people and companies were already looking for something like this.”
Stylized as SiW, the event evolved from the now-defunct Stamford Technology Week, which for several years primarily pitched itself as a must-attend event for developers and designers. When Winkel took over, the focus expanded to include entrepreneurs of all stripes, along with students and a wider-ranging number of corporations.
This year’s corporate partners and participants range from household names such as Deloitte, NBCUniversal, GE Healthcare and Mastercard to Stamford firms Office Evolution, Half Full Brewery and RPM Raceway.
And, in keeping with past tradition, “the week” runs for nine days, from Sept. 19-27, at various locations around the city.
“We’re hoping for 5,000 to 7,000 people this year,” Winkel said. “The idea is to expand by 20, 30, even 50%, year over year.”
And while last year’s SiW focused primarily on Stamford, Winkel said this year’s event is looking to broaden its appeal throughout lower Fairfield County in its ongoing quest to become, as it bills itself, “the region’s premier celebration of innovation, technology and entrepreneurship.” Its home page includes directions from Boston, New York City and the region’s major airports.
Highlights — many of which are free and open to the public, while tickets to others range from $49 to $199 — include:
• FastFWD Innovation & Technology Conference (Sept. 27) at UConn’s Stamford campus, designed to examine markets, technologies, geopolitical trends and various macro-level concepts, with scheduled speakers including state Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner David Lehman and Attorney General William Tong, along with executives from NatWest, IBM, Columbia University and WWE.
• Blockchain Day (Sept. 20) at Beta Climbing and Fitness, centered around the future of decentralized data, data privacy and consumer impact. Speakers will include representatives from ConsenSys, Delphi Digital, TradeBlock and RSM International. A demo of the controversial cryptocurrency Facebook Libra, projected to debut in 2020, will be featured.
• Hackathon (Sept. 20) at RPM Raceway, where NatWest Markets and Girls Who Code will focus on how individuals can join forces to help build, support and grow the pipeline of future female engineers in the U.S.
• How to Start Food & Beverage Businesses (Sept. 21) at Half Full Brewery, exploring how to start a food truck business, a restaurant, a distribution-based food and beverage business and a direct-to-consumer business.
Various other events and tutorials — including a crash course on Python programming — will be held.
“Since it’s about personal and professional growth, everyone’s goals are different,” Winkel noted. The ultimate goal, he added, is “to get exposed to knowledge, ideas and skills, to make connections and introductions, and to meet peers outside of your normal routine.”