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ITEN Wired Summit Fosters Local Innovation, Technology, Entrepreneurship

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Executives, entrepreneurs, technology professionals and academia will gather this week for ITEN Wired, a networking and learning opportunity aimed at fostering local economic development efforts surrounding innovation, technology and entrepreneurship.

The 2015 event is being held this week, Thursday and Friday, at the Hilton Pensacola Beach Gulf Front, 12 Via de Luna Drive, Pensacola Beach. FL.

There’s still time to register online at ITENWired.com or at the door.

ITEN Wired is a conference hosted by IT Gulf Coast and Florida West Economic Development Alliance.

“It was originally a quarterly event started by the Pensacola Chamber roughly about eight years ago,” said Jim Rhodes, an e-mail and web security expert with AppRiver, who also serves as conference director. “It was a chance just for entrepreneurs and business leaders to get in a room together and talk about what they’re working on and develop some synergies there.”

A few years in, the chamber representative that coordinated the event moved on and IT Gulf Coast stepped in to keep it going on an annual basis. “You know, we live in that world every single day; we live in the tech sector,” Rhodes said. “We know what is current, what is hot, what people want to know about it.”

Helping to organize and get the word out about ITEN Wired is the Florida West Economic Development Alliance, which is a newly formed economic development agency for Escambia County that represents the economic development efforts of the Pensacola Area Chamber of Commerce.

“The ITEN Wired Summit was birthed out of really the tech entrepreneurship strategy of the economic development division (of the chamber),” said Kelly Reeser with Florida West, noting that ITEN is an acronym for Innovation Technology Entrepreneurs Network.

The 2015 event will be the 12th to be held during its eight-year existence.

The conference has grown, with over 300 attendees in 2014.  As many as 300 participants are expected again this year.

Total attendance is one measure of how successful the conference has been. Also, the return of summit sponsors is a good sign.

Reeser says one of her favorite metrics is the anecdotal side. “Do we hear good stories of synergies happening in the tech community? Do we see our IT professionals growing stronger in their profession based on something they learned at the summit?” she said, noting the prominence of last year’s keynote speaker Brigadier General Gregory Touhill out of Washington, D.C. “A certain individual was able to tell us that we would be able to trace back to ITEN Wired Summit the attitude in Washington, D.C. has actually shifted towards our area as a center, as a hub for cyber security.”

For this year’s summit, the opening keynote speaker is Nino Vidovic, Chief Operating Technologist at KonicaMinolta. He’ll be talking about entrepreneurship and women in IT.  

Vern Boyle, Director of Technology at Northrup Grumman Information Systems, will deliver the lunch-time keynote speech. He plans to discuss the current state of cyber security and what it means to this area.

Delivering the closing keynote is Dr. Stephen Dunnivant, Dean, Advanced Technology Center at Gulf Coast State College. He’ll discuss what it takes as a community to sustain a culture and environment that will draw the talent to the area to build an IT sector for a community or a city such as Pensacola.

“The unique thing about ITEN Wired is that people ask me all the time, who should attend this event,” said Rhodes, pointing out that the conference offers something for everyone. “There’s no specific demographic we’re going after. If you’re a middle manager, developer, CIO, you can find something in the programming that will appeal to you.”

There will be a dozen break-out sessions in four different tracks to include:  CYBER SECURITY, which cover cyber security from the federal level down to how to protect personal identity; MOBILE/WEARABLE, exploring the latest in wearable devices; PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT from an IT professional’s perspective; and Tech MAKER/INCUBATOR, which will highlight examples of local entrepreneurs who’ve been successful in taking their technology ideas to market.

“Personally, for me, one of the ones that’s going to stand out for me is being done by Phil Nickinson,” said Rhodes, noting that he plans to attend the session by Nickinson, who is Editor in Chief for the weekly podcast AndroidCentral.com. “He’s going to be talking about wearables and the latest trends and where it’s going. And, he’s a very entertaining person to listen to.”

Reeser says she’s most interested in the Tech Maker track and presentations by two entrepreneurs that she’s worked with in the past. One is bySebastien Cotton, Founder & CEO of Robotics Unlimited Inc. “His is a great story of being an actual R & D research roboticist, working at IHMC (Institute for Human & Machine Cognition) and coming up with a robot out of a grant,” she said. “And, he’s taken the initiative to take that product and commercialize it, take it to market.”

Also of interest to Reeser is the presentation by Jarrod Morgan, a high school friend, who partnered with three other individuals to build an on-line test proctoring company that now employs over 600 people.

The ITEN Wired Summit opens Thursday, Oct. 22 with a morning Golf Outing and an afternoon CIO (Chief Information Officer) Panel Discussion, to start at 3:30 p.m. at the Hilton Pensacola Beach Gulf Front.

On Friday, the conference will begin with Registration and Networking from 7:00-8:00 a.m.

Click here to find out more about the ITEN Wired Summit and how you can register.

In addition to AppRiver and Florida West Economic Development Alliance, other partners include the University of West Florida and UWF Innovation Coast, Verizon, Mediacom, Navy Federal, Northrup Grumman and the City of Gulf Breeze.