Editor’s Picks: Sweet Spots For High Tech Hubs

The leading high tech hubs have developed a startup ecosystem that nurtures entrepreneurs and plants the seeds for sustainable growth from innovators who bring scaleable products to life.


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The leading high tech hubs have developed a startup ecosystem that nurtures entrepreneurs and plants the seeds for sustainable growth from innovators who bring scaleable products to life.
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Editor’s Picks: Sweet Spots For High Tech

The leading high tech hubs have developed a startup ecosystem that nurtures entrepreneurs and plants the seeds for sustainable growth from innovators who bring scaleable products to life.

Editor’s Picks: Sweet Spots For High Tech Hubs

By the BF Staff
From the May/June 2019 Issue

Just a few years ago, we used to measure the success of a tech hub in individual projects or the number of high-tech firms with recognizable names that had put down roots in the region. Today, the metrics we apply to defining successful tech hubs seems more suitable for the blueprints of a 21st-century biosphere. It comes down to this: do you have all of the elements that are needed for a thriving startup ecosystem?

high tech hubsA startup ecosystem can be a physical or virtual location in which entrepreneurs and a network of supporting services interact as a system that drives innovation throughout the community, helping to create and scale up new startups. Supporting services may include everything from incubators, accelerators and coworking spaces to universities, financial services and large corporations.

In a typical startup ecosystem, the development of a startup is broken into three stages: formation, validation and growth. The formation stage includes a process known as “ideating,” a nouveau word which is another way of saying come up with a scalable product or service idea for a big enough market; and “concepting,” in which key milestones in the development of the startup idea are set into a timeline. Establishments of commitments (a gathering of resources and funding) and performance validation benchmarks follow.

This is another way of saying that tech hubs are complex organisms that draw nourishment from an environment in which startups flourish. Here are some of the best.

RENO-SPARKS, NV: VIBRANT TECH ECOSYSTEM

Reno, NV is positioning itself as a top-notch tech hub and was recently named one of the best places to live by U.S. News & World Report. In 2018, Reno-Sparks added over 2,000 new jobs as the result of 29 new and expanding companies. According to the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN), tech companies, in particular, are recognizing the value of starting up or relocating to the area. Technology-related businesses like MOBE, Bombora and Breadware now call Reno home.

MOBE, an innovative health solutions tech company based in Minneapolis, MN, recently announced they will open their second headquarters in Reno. In the next five years, they expect to create up to 300 highly skilled jobs.

According to Eric Hamborg, MOBE’s chief commercial officer, choosing Reno as their second headquarters was very strategic. The business-friendly environment, tax-structure, people, natural beauty and its proximity to Silicon Valley and Lake Tahoe attracted them to the area. “We wanted to expand where there was divergent thinking going on. As we looked at West coast environments, there was a natural draw to Reno in terms of innovation. Nevada’s tax structure is also helpful from both a corporate and personal standpoint,” said Hamborg.

MOBE explored tech hot spots like Seattle and San Francisco prior to choosing Reno. “These are busy markets where there are lots of stressed out people so it’s just pounding through the motions of life. There’s something different about the Reno market. There’s a fresh approach to life which plays into what we are trying to accomplish in our business. It’s a place that has friendly people with different perspectives and diversity on how to solve some of the toughest challenges in healthcare and that equals innovation to us,” Hamborg shared.

MOBE is slated to open in Reno Q3 of this year. Just down the hall from the temporary MOBE headquarters is Bombora, a leading provider of B2B demographic, firmographic and Intent data. With offices in New York, San Francisco and London, opening their R&D office in Reno was pure serendipity. In 2015, co-founder Rob Armstrong, was on his way to the Bay Area and stopped in Reno-Tahoe to ski. An avid ski enthusiast, he fell in love with the area. That’s when he took a gamble to expand Bombora to Reno. According to Nicholaus (Nico) Halecky, Vice-President of Data Science, Armstrong’s gamble paid off tremendously. In fact, since moving to Reno in 2016, they’ve grown from eight to over 40 employees. Bombora expects to hire another 10 employees throughout the course of the year. Of their four locations, Reno has the most employees.

Ironically, Halecky is a Reno native who moved away in 2003 to attend graduate school at Berkeley. It wasn’t until EDAWN connected him with Bombora in 2016 that he considered moving back to Reno. “It is great to see all of the changes that are taking place here. I love the collaboration between the community and organizations that are putting in the effort to help that happen. This doesn’t happen in more established communities,” he said.

Along with the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), Bombora recognizes the importance of expanding the Reno talent pool. “We have a great relationship with UNR who helps promote industry here. I’m on the College of Science and Engineering Board as they want industry partners to be part of that conversation. They want graduates that are more prepared for the workforce and can be hired by companies like ours,” he shared.

According to Halecky, “Reno has an openness to it that other places don’t have and it’s not just when it comes to technology companies. The whole community decided after the last recession that they wanted to move dramatically away from gaming which was the basis of the economy here. There is a forward-thinking mentality here that wants to move away from where we were to something that is more sustainable and interconnected in the future. As a Reno native, it is awesome to see the community transforming itself to become something better. That whole aspect of it allows a company like ours to succeed.”

Breadware, an innovative company that provides tools and services to support companies building IoT products, visited Reno in January 2017 to explore moving their headquarters from Santa Barbara. EDAWN quickly convinced them Reno was the place to be. In less than two years, they have grown from 12 employees to 36. And they are continuing to grow on multiple fronts. Daniel (Danny) DeLaveaga, Breadware co-founder, shared, “We have two business units now. One is a professional services engineering firm where companies hire us to help develop their products. Our other business unit is launching on May 15. It’s a marketplace where we connect companies with service providers, all around IoT product development. We help companies find a service provider that specializes in exactly what their project may or may not need.” In addition, they are launching a product development conference series that brings companies together that are in the IoT space. Their first conference will focus on sports tech.

What attracted DeLaveaga and his co-founder Daniel Price to the Reno-Sparks area was the biggest little city kind of welcome. Tech hubs such as Austin, the Bay area and Boulder didn’t put out that same vibe. “We were won over by Reno as they gave us the red carpet treatment. In addition, there is a growing ecosystem of angel investors and VCs supporting the ecosystem here. Reno is really pushing the edge and looking for opportunities to grow technology in the community,” DeLaveaga shared.

Now that DeLaveaga has lived in Reno for a couple years, he is happy to share what continues to attract him to the area. “I ride my motorcycle to work each day which takes about two minutes. I like the four seasons which creates a lot of diversity and different experiences throughout the year for skiing, hiking and mountain biking. Whatever you want to do, it is here. Doing the river float on the Truckee River is fun. There’s a huge community of people, young and old, and lots of different events happening. I am excited to become more and more entrenched in the local community. There’s a lot going on here,” DeLaveaga said. He is now a member of the local Boys & Girls Club.

Boasting 320 days of sunshine and now a vibrant tech community, start-ups and more established companies alike are happily making Reno their home.

TECH CORRIDOR GROWS IN THE HEART OF NORTH CAROLINA

The Carolina Core stretches between Winston-Salem and Fayetteville at the heart of North Carolina, which is consistently ranked as one of the best states to do business with low costs and competitive incentives. Anchored by four new megasites of 7,200 acres of certified land, research parks and mixed-use developments, the corridor draws from a deep pool of manufacturing and engineering talent fueled by top-notch colleges and universities.

Hanesbrands, Mack Truck, Honda Aircraft, HAECO Americas and more than 50 corporate and regional headquarters call the area home.

high tech hubs
The Wake Forest Innovation Quarter offers a complete spectrum of available space, from startup to large laboratory uses. (Photo: Wake Forest Innovation Quarter)

The crown jewels of the Carolina Core are four prime megasites—ranging from 1,000 to more than 2,500 acres in size—along a 50-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 421. These sites serve as ready-made landing pads for manufacturers and high-tech enterprises to make and move their product throughout the U.S. and beyond. In addition to these assets, the Carolina Core is home to more than 13 additional development sites and a collection of available industrial buildings.

  • Wake Forest Innovation Quarter: Wake Forest Innovation Quarter in downtown Winston-Salem is one of the fastest-growing urban-based districts for innovation in the United States. Home to more than 170 companies, five leading academic institutions, more than 3,700 workers, 1,800 degree-seeking students and 8,000 workforce trainee participants, the Innovation Quarter is a place for research, business and education in biomedical science, information technology, digital media, clinical services and advanced materials.
  • Whitaker Park: Whitaker Park is a manufacturing complex recently donated by Reynolds America to Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. Located two miles north of downtown Winston-Salem, and directly adjacent to Wake Forest University, Whitaker Park offers growing companies 120 acres of prime commercial and industrial land, with greenfield sites between five and 20 acres, along with existing buildings ranging from 25,000 to 850,000 square feet. In total, 1.7 million square feet of existing industrial space is available at below market rate, making the park well-suited for warehousing and distribution, advanced manufacturing, food and beverage production and R&D.
  • PTI Aerospace Megasite: Located adjacent to the Piedmont Triad International Airport serving Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point, the PTI Aerospace Megasite offers more than 1,000 acres of land ready for development, including an 800-acre tract. The property, which has excellent highway access and is connected to a 10,000-foot runway by a new taxiway bridge, already has received preliminary approval for development by the EPA and is ready to host a major aviation-related tenant in a region rich with aircraft manufacturing, aircraft parts supply and aviation repair and maintenance.
  • Greensboro-Randolph Megasite: Located just minutes from I-40 and I-85 in the heart of the region ranked #3 for manufacturing communities in the Southeast, the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite is a 1,825-acre site certified ready by KPMG. The site offers a combination of world-class workforce with a legacy of manufacturing excellence, a strategic location on the U.S. East Coast and outstanding transportation infrastructure.
  • Chatham-Siler City Advanced Manufacturing Site: With more than 1,800 acres and an adjacent support site of 262 acres, the Chatham-Siler City Advanced Manufacturing Site is a certified, shovel-ready site ideal for automotive manufacturers and other multinational OEMs. The site’s proximity to Greensboro, Chapel Hill and Raleigh—including the globally-renowned Research Triangle—puts metro amenities and services close at hand.
  • Moncure Megasite: Whether you need access to workers, consumer markets or suppliers, the 2,500+ acre Moncure Megasite is the place to be. Close to the fast-growing Research Triangle Region of North Carolina, this property is within a 45-minute drive of the state capital, Raleigh-Durham International Airport and three Tier One research universities. Certified by the North Carolina Department of Commerce, the site has a master plan concept with 8 million square feet of manufacturing, office, R&D, training and support space with room for expansion.

NEW ORLEANS: 100 TECH PLAYERS AND COUNTING

The progress of Greater New Orleans over the past decade has been rapid and dramatic; in fact, it has been called “one of the great turnarounds in American history.”

And indeed, there is a multitude of evidence that New Orleans has not only come back from Hurricane Katrina, but has come back better than ever.

DXC New Orleans, LA
DXC Technologies put its digital transformation center in New Orleans, which has become a leading tech hub. (Photo: 1615poydras.com)

Over the past decade, New Orleans has emerged as a serious growth market for technology and digital media companies. From startups to major corporations, nearly 100 technology companies of every size are currently doing business in the Greater New Orleans region.

Companies such as GE Digital, DXC Technology, inXile Entertainment, Accruent and High Voltage Software have recently chosen New Orleans as an ideal location for their operations. Why? Our “low-cost/high-culture” business proposition is hard to beat.

One of the biggest attractions is the state’s Digital Media Incentive. Louisiana provides a tax credit of up to 25 percent on qualified payroll and 18 percent for qualified production expenditures for software development activities. Additionally, the Qualified Entertainment Credit provides up to 20 percent in rebates for non-production payroll expenses.

Compared with other major U.S. regions, Greater New Orleans has a cost of doing business that makes it one of the most affordable locations around. Wage levels are up to 40 percent less than those found in other major markets across the country, utilities are below the national average, and Class A office space can be secured for as low as $13 per square foot.

The favorable business conditions found in the Greater New Orleans region, combined with the appealing quality of life options, have transformed the area into a hotbed for innovation and technology.

Just last year, CBRE listed New Orleans as one of its “Next Top 10 Tech Markets to Watch” and according to Brookings, New Orleans is #2 for women in technology jobs. Recently, U.S. News & World Report featured New Orleans as “Silicon Valley of the South,” and the list goes on.

The truth is these rankings, write ups and business expansions are no coincidence—we are intentionally investing in a market that attracts technology and digital media companies and an ecosystem that supports a skilled technology workforce.

The influx of educated talent provides our businesses with a high-level talent pool. Our strong universities and robust technical college system also work closely with industry to prepare our graduates with the right skills and education to match the needs of our regional businesses.

New Orleans is one of the world’s most fascinating and unique cities, and no other city offers the same extraordinary mix of history, culture and innovation. New Orleans is the world’s next great technology hub.

METRO ATLANTA: RED-HOT TECH HUB

Metro Atlanta’s story is complex, diverse and ever-evolving. Comprised of 29 counties that expand over 22,000 square kilometers, the region has a population of nearly six million people. Located in the number one state in the U.S. for doing business, metro Atlanta is home to 15 Fortune 500 companies. With a diverse population and innovation-driving ecosystem, metro Atlanta offers a wide range of opportunities for technology companies looking to do business in the U.S.

The Atlanta Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) ranked sixth in the nation for net job creation in 2018. Atlanta is the 10th largest metro economy in the nation with a GDP of $385.5 billion. Within that activity, metro Atlanta is pioneering in the technology sector, producing the solutions and thought leaders that can’t be found anywhere else. There are approximately 200,000 individuals employed in the tech sector in the Atlanta MSA—the sixth largest metro area in the nation for technology employment. Metro Atlanta also is the #3 market for tech talent labor pool growth and the #5 metro area for quantity of elite tech talent.

Metro Atlanta continues to attract technology companies looking for diversity of talent and background. BlackRock chose the region for its new Innovation Hub comprised of 1,000 jobs. Music-streaming service Pandora chose the region to expand its East Coast presence with 250 new jobs. Honeywell International Inc. is expanding their Midtown software innovation center for 300 more jobs, and Salesforce expanded its regional headquarters in Atlanta with 600 jobs. Companies continue to choose the region as a place to establish and grow headquarters operations—choosing to build a future in metro Atlanta.

Incubators and co-working spaces are another active part of metro Atlanta, where organizations and individuals across ecosystems come together to innovate solutions. Atlanta Tech Village unites established tech companies, startups, innovators and investors under one roof. More than 300 startups have passed through the Village, and more than $600 million has been raised in capital toward their innovations. The Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) is an incubator at the Georgia Institute of Technology helping entrepreneurs around the region. ATDC companies have attracted $2.5 billion in investments and created 5,500 jobs. Metro Atlanta unites its global brands and companies to the new ideas from local startups every day—creating the ideas that change the world.

Companies across the ecosystem are the standard bearers for the world’s most forward-thinking technologies in cybersecurity, digital media and IoT. The region also has been named a Brookings Institution “knowledge capital,” becoming known as the center for global health and health IT and has been dubbed “transaction alley” for its FinTech volume, among other accolades. Plus, metro Atlanta is a digital supply chain leader as home to the world’s busiest and most efficient airport and a destination with an easily accessible port.

But metro Atlanta isn’t just beneficial for business; it’s also great for employees and their quality of life. The region offers the advantages, options and comforts residents expect in a world-class city coupled with the affordability to enjoy life to the fullest. Metro Atlanta boasts a lively food scene coupled with electric nightlife. Arts and entertainment venues, museums, international festivals, concerts and others round out the lifestyle amenities that add color to the region. A top destination for major sporting events, Atlanta has team spirit, rooting on the newest fan favorite, Atlanta United FC, along with other hometown teams like the Atlanta Braves and Atlanta Falcons.

Metro Atlanta is an evolving landscape of opportunity and possibility supported by the region’s universities and colleges, including Georgia Tech, Emory University and the world’s largest consortium of historically black colleges and universities, the Atlanta University Center. Georgia Tech leads the nation in number of engineering bachelor’s degrees awarded, and the school awards more engineering bachelor’s degrees to African Americans and women than any other school in the country. Georgia Tech’s support of the technology ecosystem in metro Atlanta extends to TechSquare ATL—a membership community home to more than 2,100 students, more than 100 startups, 21 corporate innovation centers, 10 research labs and four startup accelerators.

Metro Atlanta is the #1 most affordable big city, the #1 moving destination for the last nine years and Georgia as a whole has remained the #1 state for doing business for the last five years. Georgia’s business climate has been ranked #1 in the nation for the last six years. From culture to careers and business, metro Atlanta is inventing, connecting, inspiring and thriving.

This is the place to take advantage of countless opportunities to redefine the way the world does business, to have a meaningful impact in the broader global community and to live a fulfilling and inspiring life.

AUSTIN: BIG AND BIGGER IN TEXAS

With the Austin region growing by more than 150 people every day, it’s no secret we are booming. But what exactly is it that makes the Austin region so special?

Since 2004, the Austin Chamber, through its prosperity initiative, Opportunity Austin, has helped create more than 400,000 jobs, providing people work, so they can pay their bills, and achieve prosperity. These jobs have contributed to a diverse economy where talent is abundant.

Austin, TX
Apple CEO Tim Cook recently visited the Capital Factory in Austin, TX. The Capital Factory bills itself as a “center of gravity” for entrepreneurs that houses startups focused on developing disruptive technology.

There are tech hubs across the country, but what makes Austin different and desirable is a culture that fits seamlessly with tech. When a company joins our tech community, it enters a culture that is open, diverse and collaborative. It is an environment where people are looking to enhance and augment ideas. Job creators—from startups to worldwide brands—have told us this enhances Austin’s magnetism. It is something that cannot be forced; it is inherent in our culture. If you do business in Austin, the tech community is going to help you achieve your dreams.

We are home to a creative and innovative ecosystem that has many different layers. We have entrepreneurs, startups, growing companies and tech giants like Google, Apple, Amazon, Oracle and Dell. Our tech community also is diversified across different sectors. We are home to not just software and IT but also tech innovation across a broad spectrum of industries. We are home to the Army Futures Command, cybersecurity firms, transportation technology, life sciences and health tech, and companies innovating when it comes to film, gaming and music.

The Austin region also is able to benefit from the incredible work going on at Capital Factory, a “center of gravity for entrepreneurs” that houses startups focused on developing disruptive technology. Under Founder Josh Baer’s leadership, Capital Factory is able to be selective in its work while still managing to have thousands of members and more than 150 mentors call Capital Factory home, spurring innovation and dynamic breakthroughs.

Austin’s talent is famously “sticky.” Employees are able to find work environments they enjoy and contribute toward new technologies. These high-skilled workers move to the Austin region because of our affordable cost of living and vibrant culture that has an excellent life-work balance. Our talent and quality of life drive a multitude of companies to invest in our region and create jobs.

The entire Austin region has benefitted from a recent string of expansions and relocations. This is just a partial list of companies that have made announcements since 2018:

Apple (expansion, new campus and capacity to hire up to 15,000 jobs); Resideo (new headquarters and 120 jobs); U.S. Army Futures Command (new headquarters and 500 jobs); PIMCO (new company, 200 jobs); Zoho (new headquarters and 440 jobs); Amazon (expansion, 800 jobs); Google (expansion, 750 jobs); Insurance Zebra (expansion, 100 jobs); Oracle (expansion, new campus and 1,000 jobs); Stitch Fix (expansion, 50 jobs); GM Technology Hub (expansion, 500 jobs); Charles Schwab (new/expanded and 1,500 jobs); Clear (new, 30 jobs).

Most of our growth comes from companies that already have roots in Austin and fell further in love with our tech, talent and tacos. These companies know it makes good business sense to further invest and grow in the region.

New business facilities are being constructed across our region from the Downtown Central Business District, to the Domain in the northwest and Austin’s second downtown, to Southeast Austin and East Austin—where older buildings are being renovated and made into hip tech centers—and Southwest Austin where companies like Yeti, Solar Winds and AMD have facilities. Just as our tech community is collaborative, our growth also is a collaborative and organized effort of more than 15 cities working hand-in-hand to bring prosperity and build diversity through the region.

It is impossible to convey everything that makes our region special and everything that contributes to our unique way of life. Once you experience our beautiful outdoor spaces, our world-renowned barbecue and our institutions of higher learning that are continually building the tech talent pipeline through flexible programs, you will also understand what makes Austin special. Our economy is thriving, and we welcome you to join us.

ANN ARBOR: LEADING BY EXAMPLE

According to CB Insights’ The Unicorn Exits Tracker, Ann Arbor-based Duo Security was the top acquisition of 2018, after being acquired by Cisco for $2.35 billion. Additionally, in 2018 one of the largest semiconductor equipment companies in the world—KLA Corporation—selected Ann Arbor for the location of its new R&D facility.

Anyone who wasn’t already aware of Ann Arbor’s dynamic tech ecosystem was certainly taking notice after those two headline-grabbing announcements.

Home to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor has a long history of pioneering innovations, from the discovery and validation of the polio vaccine in 1955 to participating in the ARPANET research effort that was the forerunner of today’s Internet. More than a Midwest college town, Ann Arbor has emerged as a leading tech hub on the global stage.

The region’s economic development organization, Ann Arbor SPARK, serves as a steward for startup companies and a beacon for business attraction to the area. “Our region has developed as a strong tech hub because of the ingenuity, spirit of entrepreneurship and strong talent pool fostered here by our organization and others,” says Paul Krutko, Ann Arbor SPARK president and CEO. “Our greatest advocates are the private, public and academic partners who support our efforts to advance startups, helping them achieve long-term success.”

Every successful tech hub worth its weight in VC includes a physical space where entrepreneurs can access business acceleration resources. SPARK manages two such facilities, one located in the heart of downtown Ann Arbor and the other in downtown Ypsilanti. It’s here that SPARK offers incubator space for early stage startups and business acceleration services including mentorship, training and funding grants.

“Every year, we help more than 200 qualifying companies by providing intensive support,” said Bill Mayer, vice president of entrepreneurial services. “We help even more in a less direct way through our hosted events, meeting with team members or are simply providing guidance on how to engage the startup ecosystem.” In 2018, Ann Arbor SPARK assisted 224 startups—of which 183 received intensive services. Additionally, 68 companies were incubated at the two business accelerators.

One of the most innovative components of SPARK’s entrepreneurial program is its Entrepreneur Boot Camp. Participants selected from a pool of qualified early stage companies get a chance to work one-on-one with seasoned entrepreneurs, angel investors and business executives to refine their business plan. As a result of the Boot Camp process, companies frequently pivot, modifying their business plan, target market and more. Ultimately, Boot Camp participants experience a shortened time to attract capital, customers and other key milestones. The immense impact stemming from the Entrepreneur Boot Camp in combination with our other support programs is reflected in the successes of two Ann Arbor-based startups.

First, Groundspeed Analytics, Inc., a 2015 graduate, recently announced a $30 million Series B funding round led by Oak HC/FT. Second, SkySpecs, a 2012 graduate and current market leader in autonomous wind turbine inspection technology, closed an $8 million Series A in 2018.

In addition to Ann Arbor SPARK, there are dozens of other incubators, accelerators and co-working spaces. Between downtown Ann Arbor and the surrounding areas, there are co-working spaces for businesses at every stage, in a variety of industries, and even for students.

It’s no surprise that a tech hub emerged in the same town as the University of Michigan. For eight consecutive years, it has conducted the largest volume of research of any public university. In FY 2018, the volume of research at the university totaled $1.55 billion, resulting in 484 new inventions reported and 21 new startups launched.

Another critical factor for entrepreneurs is access to funding. To support this effort, SPARK administers the Michigan Angel Fund, a for-profit, pooled and professionally managed equity fund, which is the largest angel organization in Michigan with 120 members and 16 companies in its portfolio. It fills an important funding gap by investing in very early stage companies across the state that are not yet primed for venture and other sources of capital. In addition to the Michigan Angel Fund, there are more than 20 venture capital and angel investors in the Ann Arbor region, the highest concentration in the state.

A study recent study from the Center for American Entrepreneurship looked at how many female-founded startups reached significant funding and exit milestones between 2005 and 2017. In Ann Arbor, 29 percent of startups that secured a first round of funding between 2005 and 2017 had a female founder—compared to 16 percent nationally.

In 2018, the Michigan Angel Fund selected four women-founded early stage companies to grow its portfolio. The companies were Gamez International, Geo Ticket Portals, HTMA Holdings and Shoptelligence. All four seed rounds exceeded $1M each.

“We didn’t intentionally seek out only women entrepreneurs in 2018,” acknowledged Skip Simms, managing partner of the Michigan Angel Fund and senior vice president of Ann Arbor SPARK. “However, I do believe it’s indicative of a larger trend that we’ve seen over the past few years throughout the state. It’s noteworthy for one fund to have 100 percent of new investments go to women-led organizations in 2018.”

Destinations around the country are presenting city-wide events curated to feature their communities on a global stage. Possibly the largest and most well-known is South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, TX. Another event with growing visibility is the Tom Tom Summit and Festival in Charlottesville, Virginia. Last year, Ann Arbor’s very own a2Tech360 joined the scene and is quickly building awareness, interest and participation.

An Ann Arbor SPARK initiative, a2Tech360 dedicates itself to promoting the ecosystem of the Ann Arbor area of innovation. A week of tech-related events, a2Tech360 creates connections between key community actors—innovators, researchers, investors, businesses, academic institutions, non-profits, job seekers and the general public—that meaningfully generates discussions, ideas and new opportunities.

“a2Tech360 grew from our first community-centric event in 2014, A2 Tech Trek. Over the years, while both the success and visibility of the event grew so did the programming. In 2017, we added Tech Talk—a morning of inspiring TED-style talks by leading innovators from companies located in Ann Arbor. Now, a2Tech360 spans 10 days and features more than a dozen events with a number of organizations adding their own programming to the series.”

In his recent book, Thank You For Being Late, An Optimist’s Guide for Thriving in the Age of Accelerations, Tom Friedman describes how we are now living in the age of exponential accelerations of technology, globalization and climate change that individually and in combination are moving faster than our capacity to adapt to them.

According to Paul, “It is my optimistic belief that the sustained engagement of the Ann Arbor region’s public, private, academic and non-profit leadership through SPARK’s unique collaborative platform gives us a fighting chance to help our region adapt to and benefit from these accelerations, while at the same time creating solutions for the State of Michigan, the nation and the world.”

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