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Philly Tech Week, B.PHL Innovation Fest Go Virtual This Month: Here's How To Access Free Workshops
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PHILADELPHIA (WLVT) Movers-and-shakers from Greater Philadelphia's tech sector are meeting this month and they’re offering free workshops and networking opportunities to the public.

TECH TAKEOVER: Watch our tech series with PBS39's Megan Frank

The organizers of both Philly Tech Week and B.PHL Innovation Fest told PBS39 the virtual events aim to connect attendees to people and organizations doing innovative work.


"We want more people to know what's happening in our region in the tech and innovation scene. Sometimes the Philadelphia region is more so known for cheesesteaks and Gritty, and that’s awesome, but we have more to offer," Michelle Histand, B.PHL organizer and director of innovation at Independence Blue Cross, told PBS39.

PBS39's Tech Takeover series covered the inaugural event last year in a segment focused on building smart cities. The first B.PHL Innovation Fest drew upwards of 5,000 visitors.

"Because we’re virtual this year, we actually hope to exceed that number. We have people tuning in from all over the country and people from over 20 countries are registered," said Histand.

B.PHL has 100 free events scheduled over its three day span from Sept. 15-17.

"This year, we’re focusing on three main topics: Economic recovery, social justice and racial equity, and personal inspiration and creativity. We have a session called 'White Women Opt In,' which is about being a better ally. We have sessions around inclusivity and diversity in the workplace," said Histand.

They’ve even reeled in a few celebrities as guest speakers.

"I’m a huge 'Parks and Rec' fan, and we have Nick Offerman presenting," said Histand. "He’ll discuss creativity as he experiences it as both an actor and woodworker. Issa Rae from HBO’s 'Insecure' will discuss being a woman of color in Hollywood. Pitbull will also present. He won’t be rapping, he’ll be talking about his work in education."


Now in its 10th year, Philly Tech Week is normally held each spring and registers up to 20,000 people over its five day span. The group that runs the event, tech industry news and information source Philly, put the kibosh on the spring festivities due to Covid-19. They ended up rolling out several sessions virtually over the summer.

Chris Wink, publisher and CEO, says 2020 is an important year to embrace and implement new technologies and innovations.

"The conversations at Philly Tech Week will be delivered through the lens of 2020," Wink told PBS39. "We have a group of professionals and leaders who are working on economic empowerment and inventions that solve problems. We talk about racial equity and access issues in software building and company building. We talk about medical devices and other biomedical strategies as it relates to solving real world problems. We talk about declining entrepreneurship and why that’s happening. These are all issues that have been with us for years, and they’re very prominent right now."

From Sept. 21-25, the now virtual event will feature mostly free workshops and a few that come with a fee. Topics include building blockchain applications, program development and computer coding.

"There are conversations like the HUE Tech Summit, which is dedicated to women of color who are technologists and entrepreneurs," said Wink. "There is a UX Design Slam and sessions on machine learning and how the healthcare industry is reacting to Covid-19. There are also opportunities to interact with companies from around the world who want to network with local business leaders."

Philly Tech Week concludes with a “Nerd Met Gala." Guests are encouraged to dress as their favorite character a practice known as cosplay and partake in trivia games online.


Attendees are encouraged to register for sessions ahead of time. Visit Philly Tech Week and B.PHL Innovation Fest online to learn more.

Both event organizers say they want guests to have access to ideas that can change and shape the region and the world.

"This year, 2020, offered both opportunities and challenges," said Wink. "We’re trying to make Philly Tech Week an opportunity."

Histand shares the sentiment.

"We want this to be action-oriented," she said of B.PHL Innovation Fest. "We want people to hear a great speaker and come away with tips that they can apply in real life."

Watch the video version of this Tech Takeover report in the player below.

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