"Nobody is saying Philadelphia is the next Silicon Valley," said Christopher Wink, editorial director of the Technical.ly/Philly website and coordinator of the Philly Tech Week, which will begin Thursday.
Well, nobody but Independence Blue Cross CEO Dan Hilferty, who says our medical/pharma-research-rich region could easily ripen into "the Silicon Valley of health IT."
Still, when looking over the jam-packed calendar of events on tap for the sixth annual Philly Tech Week, riding on multiple "tracks" (themed as Access, Business, Civic, Creative, Dev and Media), it's obvious that the tech/entrepreneurial buzz is growing louder in the 11-county region that PTW embraces.
This year's gathering offers 143 seminars, meet and greets, mini trade shows and design slams, luring in a mostly regional audience expected to be at least 25,000. Topics range from cybersecurity to coding for kids to digital movements for social change.
There will be deep digs for serious computer geeks and casual entrepreneurs with a brainstorm, teaching the latter how to pitch to backers and ride the bumpy roller coaster.
Mayor Kenney will share his vision for Philadelphia's tech future at a Tech Town Hall, Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the Free Library, 1901 Vine St.
Philadelphia is now riding especially high in such realms as health tech and marketing analytics.
A paid admission PTW seminar Saturday on "Innovation in the Cannabis Industry: Technology, Medical & Investment" hints that a different high could also be in our future.
Philadelphia is likewise scoring better than other places in the diversity of our entrepreneurial community, noted Wink. The presenter list "looks like a pretty good representation of the population." A trend PTW will keep pushing with sessions about tech inclusiveness and access for minorities, the handicapped and women. The latter will be popping corks at their own "Rad Awards" ceremony Tuesday at the Stratus Rooftop Lounge, 433 Chestnut St.
For the tech curious, Thursday night's Philly Startup Crawl (5-10 p.m.) offers access to the Center City offices of noted ventures, such as Snipsnap, RJMetrics, Cloudamize, Squareknot and Ticketleap. This beer-laced schmoozathon is a casual way for would-be job seekers to make contacts.
Friday evening's PTW16 Kickoff Festival in Dilworth Park (west side of City Hall) aims to be true fun for children and adults, Wink said. Come to play locally designed video games, watch 3-D printers work, enjoy live music, and nosh on food-truck treats. If it rains, this free gig moves to Saturday, also 5-10 p.m.
The merging of art and technology colors Techniculture, a Philadelphia Cultural Alliance seminar from 9 a.m. to noon Friday at Drexel's Mitchell Auditorium. The theme will also drive special tours Sunday afternoon at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Lots edgier: a tech-inflected art piece, Explicit Female, on tap Friday and Saturday nights at Fidget, 1714 N. Mascher St.
Only have time to take in one Tech Week event? Make it Wednesday night (May 4, 6-9 p.m.) at the 23rd Street Armory (between Market and Chestnut Streets) for PSL Entrepreneur Expo. This non-ticketed show-and-tell boasts more than 50 local start-ups.
Thursday, May 5th, a Northern Liberties Block Party at the Piazza (1040 N. 2nd St.) celebrates what's happening at neighboring tech companies. Hours are 3-8 p.m.
Finally, as PTW winds down, the poshest tech expo/demo party occurs in the evening Friday, May 6, at Urban Outfitters headquarters at the Navy Yard. Dubbed the Philly Tech Week Signature Event, tickets run $40-$50.