The first Minority Innovation Weekend kicks off at 9 a.m. on Saturday, November 9, 2017 at Hotel RL – Baltimore Inner Harbor. The weekend event features talks by speakers with experience in launching startups who will discuss defining and validating ideas; defining the competition; making a successful pitch; and funding ideas and innovation and entrepreneurship. A panel of local new business founders will discuss opportunities in Baltimore.
“There will be opportunities for networking with startup founders and other people who are looking to enter the tech startup world,” said William Redmond, president of the National Society of Black Engineers’ Baltimore Metropolitan Area Chapter.
The goal of the Minority Innovation Weekend (MIW) is to provide minority innovators with the fundamental knowledge needed to successfully launch startups. The MIW will foster an environment where minority innovators may obtain information, advice and strategies to help them turn their technology based idea or concept into a viable tech business— from defining and validating the idea to obtaining funding for the innovation.
“Anyone can participate but the goal of the event is to reach groups that are disproportionately represented as tech startup founders,” Redmond said.
As of 2016, reports have indicated that one percent or less of African-American and Latino startup founders received venture capital funding.
To reach as much of this target demographic as possible, Redmond says his organization is working with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, the Arab American Association of Engineers and Architects, the Greater Baltimore Leadership Association, the Morgan State University Entrepreneurial Development Assistance Center and other National Society of Black Engineer chapters in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania to raise awareness to MIW.
“Who should attend?” Redmond said. “Anyone with ideas for a new mobile app; a FinTech app; an EdTech app; or any other software product or a new cyber security product or offering; a new renewable energy product or offering; or any concept that requires scientific research, engineering design, technology development, or mathematical analysis.”
Among the primary goals for MIW 2017 is assisting attendees in finding incubation for their ideas with either The Harbor Bank of Maryland, Community Development Corporation or the Startup Nest, according to Redmond.
“Baltimore City lost over 100,000 jobs between 1950 and 1995, and the loss of those jobs was not replaced. The effects of those job losses have had a major impact on the city and its residents,” he said. “MIW will attempt to address the issue by creating opportunities to attract and retain Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics professionals to Baltimore to live and work.”
MIW will also try to attract capital providers to play a role in sponsorship and matching innovators with the capital they need.
Redmond says that he hopes as many as 100 people will attend the inaugural event.
“Assuming that the attendee has an idea or concept in mind, the goal of the conference is to provide them with fundamental knowledge and help that person answer the question, ‘Where do I get started,” he said.
Tickets for MIW can be purchased at http://miw.eventbrite.com