Crowded Innovation Summit Highlights Newark’s Bustling Tech Scene

Members of Newark’s growing tech community crowded the Gateway Concourse Atrium to network at the Newark Innovation Summit, which took place on October 14, kicking off this year’s Newark Tech Week.

The event included booths representing startups, hors d’oeuvres, speakers and a panel discussion about the tech scene in Newark.

Bernel Hall, president and CEO of the newly renamed Invest Newark | Esther Surden

It also featured an announcement: Under the guidance of president and CEO Bernel Hall, the Newark Community Economic Development Corporation had rebranded itself as “Invest Newark.”

As one panelist noted, congratulating Hall on the rebranding, “You can’t beat a name that’s also a mission statement!”

CITI Medina, whose team at =SPACE had put together the Newark Tech Week agenda — featuring 14 individual events, tech giveaways and some product announcements — welcomed the attendees to the speakers’ portion of the evening.  

CITI Medina (L) with Kristen Pappas of Onyx Equities| Esther Surden

=SPACE is a coworking venue at 2 Gateway Center that provides resources for startups, coaching for tech companies and access for minority business owners.

Speaking on behalf of Onyx Equities (Woodbridge), which owns three of the four buildings at Gateway, Kristen Pappas, vice president of property management, praised Newark’s infrastructure investments aimed at stimulating job creation and economic growth. “And we really wanted to be a part of that,” she said.

Pappas noted that one of the first steps the company took when it acquired the buildings was to ensure that all the interior public spaces were connected to Gateway Connect Wi-Fi via Newark Fiber, the “fastest internet you can get in the world.”

Gateway Connect Wi-Fi was among the first deployments of Wi-Fi 6, the next generation of Wi-Fi, the company said in a statement. Each access point deployed has a dedicated multigigabit internet feed. “We are the only public place in the New York metro area where you can connect” to this super-fast wireless internet, she added.

Hall said that all the industries that come to Newark depend on information and technology, and “we want to make Newark smarter” by supporting smart infrastructure. “We want to make the Brick City into the Tech City,” he told the group.

In his introduction of Jonathan Schultz, cofounder and managing principal of Onyx Equities, as the keynote speaker for the event, Medina noted that Shultz had embraced innovations that few other real-estate companies had adopted, transforming all aspects of the company’s operations.

Jonathan Shultz, cofounder and principal at Onyx Equities | Esther Surden

For the real estate industry, which has been slow to accept technology, data is the most important thing to focus on, Schultz said. Real estate professionals have much to learn about 5G, for example, as it’s a whole new ecosystem for them. How can they take advantage of it? Or learn how 5G technology penetrates building walls? Onyx looks at all new technologies and considers how it will deploy them to make its customers as happy as possible, he said.

Real estate companies look at their tenants as the new consumers, and the companies now see themselves as more hoteliers than leasers. Now building owners must design “concierge experiences” he said, covering the full range between getting the workers into the building and offering them experiences after work.

“We look at human touch points: We drive to work, you come into the building, what are we doing for lunch, how do we leave the building, maybe during the day you want to take a break. … Every tenant has different wants and different needs, and we have to figure out what that means, and how to keep them in our building as long as possible.”

So, building owners must make it easier for people to get to the building if they don’t want to drive, Maybe they will get apps with facial recognition that will allow people to access the building or their particular part of it without having to carry around a card. These are some of the little things that can make a tenant’s life easier, he said.

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