Stamford Technology Week is dead; long live Stamford Innovation Week.
The latter, stylized as SiW, shares with its predecessor a mission to connect entrepreneurs, tech talent and investors. Taking place at a number of Stamford venues from Sept. 13-23, it is composed of more than 100 events including conferences, panels, speakers, open houses, networking, and after-hours socializing with live music at pubs and restaurants.
“I’ve hosted and been to so many meetups and other networking events over the past couple of years that it just made sense to make this happen, and to continue what Stamford Technology Week was all about,” said Jonathan Winkel, SiW founder, managing partner of Stamford-based marketing agency SquareWheel, and chair of Stamford’s Economic Development Commission.
The technology week had over the years become somewhat unwieldy, Winkel said. “They felt it had grown too diluted and decided not to do it” last year, he said.
Hugh Seaton, who as vice president of operations at the now-defunct Stamford Innovation Center was one of the driving forces behind technology week. The CEO at Stamford software firm Aquinas, Seaton approached Winkel to discuss the event’s future last year.
“We agreed that it would be a shame to let it die on the vine,” Winkel said.
“What’s been happening for a good 10 years is you’d go to a networking event, and it seemed like everybody was meeting each other for the first time,” Winkel said. “We thought it made more sense to try and reach a critical mass. We want this to be a big-tent event citywide to bring everyone together and discuss what they’re doing, as well as get ideas for how to continue to innovate and create.”
As the city’s economic development commission chair, Winkel said he’s been surprised by how many companies and people have contacted him with no knowledge of Stamford’s tech-sector presence. While they may be familiar with the likes of Gartner and Indeed, “We have a lot of other companies like Walker Digital and Kayak — smaller companies that have a national presence, but whose stories are not being told loudly and broadly enough.”
Creating SiW was, he said, “An easy ‘yes’ for us. Our support was automatic.”
Local support has also been strong: “Something like 95 percent of the companies we approached were like, ‘Thank you — this is well overdue,’” Winkel said.
Among the companies directly involved with SiW are the Stamford branch of Pieology, which will conduct a “soft launch” of its drone pizza delivery system, and Half Full Brewery, which will introduce Spark.Innovate.Move, a cryo-powder pale ale that will serve as SiW’s official beer.
“We try to get involved with the community when we can,” said Half Full Founder and Chief Hoptimist Conor Horrigan. “Jon asked us if we’d be interested in participating in happy hours and some of their other events, and we thought about it and decided to take it a step further.”
Cryo powder, Horrigan explained, is essentially a concentrated hop powder that “has a better yield and creates a ‘cleaner’ beer.”
He noted that his beer will only be available at SiW. “Since it’s all about innovation,” he said, “we thought this would be a way for us to be a part of it in a cool way.”
SiW has also lined up an impressive array of sponsors, including NatWest Markets, NBC Sports, People’s Bank, JP Morgan Chase, CT Innovations, Bankwell, and Insperity. Partners include Deloitte, CT Next, Stamford Downtown, Stamford Town Center, Crashcode, and Innovate Stamford.
Winkel said he expects “well over 1,000” people to attend.
For more information, tickets and a full schedule of events visit: www.SiWeek.org. Many events are free and open to the public; others range from $10 to $125.