Just South of Southwest had to start somewhere.
Since this is of course the first year, the OhioX Tech Summit 2022 won’t be nearly as extensive as the acclaimed 35-year-old festival that brings together the technology, film and music industries in Austin, Texas each year.
But for the organizers behind Ohio’s first-ever tech summit, taking place on April 23 at John Carroll University, it’s the first step in expanding the tentative annual event into something akin to SXSW.
In that sense, the event could mark a defining moment in the history of the state’s expansive and growing tech industry.
“This has taken many semesters,” said Chris Berry, President of OhioX, the state’s first and only tech trade group. “It will be an opportunity for people to come together, experience and celebrate tech across Ohio.”
The one-day event features a variety of speakers, tech demos, and networking opportunities. For more details on the event, including speakers and a tentative itinerary, visit on-line.
“This comes at a perfect time because there are so many exciting things happening with technology in our state,” Berry said. “There’s news, of course, that the Intel factory is coming to central Ohio, and that’s having an impact. But that’s only part. We have startups attracting more venture capital than ever before. Really, from startups to Fortune 500 companies, if there’s any technology and innovation going on, this really is home to it all.”
So why host the event at John Carroll?
That’s in large part due to Berry’s co-organizer, Scott Allen, Standard Products—Dr. James S. Reid Chair in Management for the college, who also teaches a class on technologies that enable disruption.
Through his college course, Allen takes students in Northeast Ohio to companies like Goodyear, General Electric, the Cleveland Clinic and many others to experience breakthrough technologies and improve their technical skills in general.
“We don’t necessarily want the students to develop the sensor technology, for example,” he said, “but we do want them to know how sensor technology is used and monetized and how it can be a differentiator in business. “
As these tours went virtual during the pandemic, other interested parties were invited to join. There are about 20 students in Allen’s class, but he said there were often more than 80 people attending the virtual events.
Allen came into contact with Berry after OhioX launched in December 2019. It wasn’t long before they came up with the idea of collaborating on a nationwide summit that could bring together people and companies from the tech scene.
Thus was born the concept for the OhioX Tech Summit with John Carroll as the venue.
This idea was just blossoming when COVID-19 flared up, so plans were shelved. With the pandemic seemingly in the midst of another fade, the duo said the time was right to make an event happen.
One of OhioX’s primary goals is to nurture the state’s often-unsung tech industry and innovation — not just what’s coming from the best-known companies, but what’s being developed by startups and within other companies that may not always receive mainstream attention to attract.
The summit will certainly serve this purpose.
The speakers registered for the event so far represent a variety of companies including Park Place Technologies, Color Coded Labs, KeyBank, Hyland, Proformex, University Hospitals Ventures, Microsoft and many others.
For Allen, the event must be part of his college course, which has otherwise been conducted remotely amid COVID waves.
Berry said people will come to him and ask him what’s happening in different corners of the state in terms of technology. He’s often asked, “How does Cincinnati compare to Columbus or Cleveland?” The joke, he said, is that there’s always this rivalry between the big cities and the smaller ones around them that inspires this mindset.
But part of Berry’s job is to think about the big picture.
And therein lies another purpose of the summit.
“There are different strengths in our different cities and sectors. But there are also many similarities and parallels, and therein lies opportunity for the future,” said Berry. “One of the things we’re trying to do better is connecting what’s happening in these regional ecosystems.”
“If you look at all levels of business, whether Fortune 500 companies or startups, we could stack our stories with a lot of other people,” Allen said. “I think we need to take a step back and be really proud of what’s happening in our state right now and take a look at, wow, Ohio is a player in tech and build a mindset based on that — just like that, what Chris does every day with OhioX.”
Berry is still compiling a list of possible speakers for the tech summit, as well as companies interested in providing demos. Anyone interested is encouraged to contact Berry via email [email protected]