Philly Tech Week 2013 kicked off in grand fashion with the largest game of Pong on the planet last Friday.
The ten-day-long celebration of technology and innovation in Philadelphia — now in its third year — is organized by technology news organization Technical.ly Philly. This year marks the first that Penn is sponsoring this event.
“Penn provides financial resources in exchange for opportunities to communicate directly with tech week participants,” Anthony Sorrentino, executive director of public affairs at the office of the executive vice president, said in an email. “It is an opportunity to promote the varied programs of our center for technology transfer and the upstart program which support University innovators with new business ventures based on their discoveries.“
Presented by AT&T, the celebration drew over 10,000 attendees last year. This year, with only four core staff on the organizing team, Technical.ly Philly partnered with over 125 partners and over 60 sponsors, including Penn, to bring together more than 80 events ranging from hackathons to informal “Geek Brunches” for people interested in technology.
The kick-off event last Friday featured an interactive game of Pong played on the side of the 410-foot Circa Center skyscraper in University City, with spectators gazing up to the building from the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Utilizing LED lights, the idea was first conceived by Frank Lee, director of the game development program at Drexel University. Around 1,000 people signed up for an online lottery to win the chance to play the game.
The 29-story building will once again be turned into a video game screen this coming Wednesday for a second round of Pong.
This year, Philly Tech Week also aimed to maintain a strong focus on non-profit tech entrepreneurship and expanding community impact. One of the main initiatives, the annual cell phone and laptop drive, aims to bridge the digital divide among Philadelphia residents. KEYSPOT, one of the Philly Tech Week partners, is also holding events throughout the week to introduce technology to seniors and members of the community.
“The kind of things that result will change Philly,” Tiffany Baehman, vice president and general manager of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets for the greater Philadelphia region, said at the kick-off breakfast for event organizers and sponsors on Monday.
Penn hosted the student startup summit this past Saturday at Melvin J. and Claire Levine Hall in Penn Engineering. Throughout the coming week, Penn will also be hosting the final round of the Wharton Business Plan Competition venture. Neil Blumenthal, Penn alumni and co-founder of Warby Parker, will be the keynote speaker for one of the upcoming events.
“One thing we’ve been saying at the Science Center: [a] nice quote by Tom Peters — ‘Celebrate what you want to see more of,’” Jeanne Mell, vice president of marketing communications at the University City Science Center, the headquarters for Philly Tech Week, said. “This week, we’re looking forward to seeing more tech.”
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