Ann Arbor SPARK will hold its annual A2Tech360 series of events this year from Sept. 18-25 to celebrate and connect the community to the local tech industry. To keep all attendees safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, all events will be held virtually.
Jenn Cornell Queen, SPARK's senior vice president of marketing, communication, and events, says planning and coordinating this year's event presented challenges. But SPARK and participating companies felt it was more important than ever to talk about job opportunities and how businesses are dealing with challenges due to the pandemic.
"The right thing to do is have these important conversations," Cornell Queen says. "Not just from a feel-good perspective, but what are businesses here facing?"
Due to this year's virtual format, Tech Trek – usually a free-form opportunity to visit numerous local tech companies in person and on foot – will include new, helpful features for job seekers. Participants will be able to select specific industries to view for a curated list of companies. Each company will have their own virtual chat room to speak with job seekers. Cornell Queen says this virtual format will help companies connect to a wider audience of job seekers and is easier for individuals to search for opportunities in the field of their interest.
"You could be anywhere in the U.S. right now and meet with these companies who are hiring," Cornell Queen says. "People outside of the southeast Michigan region might be surprised to find the demand here."
Similarly, A2Tech360's Mobility Row event, which normally offers live demonstrations of technology from local mobility companies, will offer virtual interactions instead. For Tech Trek and Mobility Row participants who aren't job seekers, companies have created videos to showcase their businesses.
A new event added to A2Tech360 this year is Invest360, which will be embedded in three other A2Tech360 programs: Michigan Angel Summit, Mobility Summit, and MI-HQ’s Tech on the Edge. At Invest360, healthcare, mobility, and IT companies will pitch to a panel of investor judges to compete for a $50,000 prize in their category. The top three companies from each sector will present to A2Tech360 attendees to be chosen for a People's Choice Award and another prize of $50,000 at noon on Sept. 25.
A2Tech360 will kick off this Friday, Sept. 18, with the FastTrack Awards to celebrate Washtenaw and Livingston counties' high-growth "gazelle'' companies. Later in the week, SPARK and other partners will host multiple panel discussions and presentations, pitch competitions, Tech Trek, Mobility Row, and more.
Click here to view the full schedule of events for A2Tech360.
Emily Benda is a freelance writer based in Ann Arbor. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo courtesy of Ann Arbor SPARK.