Newark is trying really hard to become a tech-friendly place, a hub where tech startups can come, settle and grow jobs. It already has a terrific tech university, the New Jersey Institute of Technology; a large and successful tech incubator, the Enterprise Development Center which has 90 companies; a great business school, Rutgers School of Business; a couple of larger tech employers such as Audible and IDT, and a tech-savvy mayor. Panasonic is soon to join the tech companies settling in Newark.
The city has the seeds of a new tech infrastructure in the Brick City Tech Meetup, Startup Newark, and The Road to the Cloud Meetup and there may be more. Dr. Randall Pinkett’s Campus CEO Challenge is run out of Newark as was March’s Lean Newark event. Newark has great economic development initiatives including programs run by the Greater Newark Enterprises Corporation and the Brick City Development Corporation.
Now Newark is attempting something new: a series of coordinated events compiled into one theme: Newark Tech Week.
Newark Tech Week took off Wednesday evening with a terrific talk at the Rutgers Business School by serial tech entrepreneur Mike Michalowicz, author of the Toilet Paper Entrepreneur and the Pumpkin Plan. The talk was sponsored by Scarlet Startups, LeanNewark, NJ Entrepreneurs and Tech Startups, the NJ Tech Meetup and the Rutgers Business School Alumni Association.
Michalowicz gave an inspiring kick-in-the-pants to companies who have reached a “glass ceiling” at their businesses, a place where they think they can’t grow any more. He offered some practical advice on how to break through by making some changes in business as usual. (More on Michalowicz in a future article.)
Next up Thursday April 4, will be an inspiring evening of TEDx talks at NJIT, the only TEDx programs in Newark. If you can’t get to this event in person, it is being streamed live here. Although this is the third TEDx event being put on by NJIT, it will be the one most focused on technology. Carlos Domingos, senior vice president at Cisco systems and a technology evangelist will offer a talk on collaboration and how to make that happen. There are many other great speakers scheduled. For complete information, go to the website here. NJIT senior Kevin Ly was instrumental in getting the TEDxNJIT talks off the ground.
On April 5, there will be a tech happy hour, at Loft 47, which should be a good way for those doing tech in Newark to meet others who are also making tech happen. Creating a sense of community is important to lubricate the wheels of a newly emerging tech ecosystem.
Tech and community leaders in Newark are getting together at a luncheon on Friday to discuss what can be done to make the city more tech-friendly and to attract tech businesses. Don Katz– Audible CEO– mentioned to NextCity.org that Newark needs to develop “a cluster of living environments and places to shop” that will attract employees of tech companies to come and settle there. Perhaps the luncheon meeting will create some “Next Steps” for Newark to become a tech hub as rents in Manhattan drive young companies to seek less expensive office space.
Finally, on Saturday, Blerdology is sponsoring a free-to-the-programming-community hackathon at the Rutgers Business School which will develop new apps for local non-profits and startups. They say: Blerdology (formerly #BlackGirlsHack) is a social enterprise focused on the enhancement and celebration of the black tech community. #blackhack NWK, on April 6-7, 2013 expects to have more than 50 hackers from all over Newark and the tri-state area, bringing the black tech community together for 24 hours of coding and networking.
All of the information about each of the events can be accessed on the Newark Tech Week website.