For some possibly irrational reason Detroit is on my list of top five cities I love. It’s up there with (in alphabetical order) Bangkok, Cairo, London and New York. So I’m very excited that I’ll be back there in a month for our FOURTH(!) Techonomy Detroit.
It’s been amazing to watch the change in Detroit over the past four years. In late 2011 when we started thinking about organizing a conference in Detroit people thought we were nuts. Detroiters even thought we were a little nuts, watching us warily, not completely trusting we would deliver on our promise of bringing a great program to the city. Eventually people responded to our plans with enthusiasm, especially those from out of town, who were fascinated to see us focusing on such a provocative location. Year one, non-Detroit speakers included Jack Dorsey, city expert Bruce Katz of Brookings, Steve Case, Grady Burnett of Facebook, Carlo Ratti from MIT’s SENSEable City Lab, Danae Ringelmann, co-founder of Indiegogo, and CEO Ben Kaufman of Quirky. Detroit leaders included Tonya Allen head of the Skillman Foundation, Matt Clayson of Detroit Creative Corridor, Paul Mascarenas of Ford and Quicken Loan’s Dan Gilbert.
Four years later, the entrepreneurial energy we sensed but could barely see in 2011 is going full force. Startups are burgeoning, cultural institutions are arising, and in general Detroit is a place to be. And we’re still going strong. Our speaker line up for Techonomy Detroit on Sept. 15 at Wayne State University includes CEO Carl Bass of Autodesk, CEO Mark Bertolini of Aetna (Who was born and raised in Detroit, and is a Wayne State University Alum–our conference takes place at in Minoru Yamasaki’s beautiful McGregor conference center there.), Michael Chui of McKinsey, Jennifer Crozier of IBM, Esther Dyson, the Atlantic’s James Fallows, the ever energetic Andrew Keen and Altimeter Group’s Charlene Li (another Detroit ex-pat). Representing “team Detroit” we’ll hear from Mayor Mike Duggan and his impressive city CIO Beth Niblock, Garlin Gilchrist the city of Detroit’s first ever expert on civic engagement, Deep Dive Detroit’s Lauren Hood and Data Driven Detroit’s Erica Raleigh.
What’s on the program? We’ll be talking about hacking cities, the Internet of manufacturing, Detroit’s Information Ecosystem, the challenges of diversity, civic tech and the new digital divide, craftsmanship and the future of work, and how tech helps deepen citizen engagement in the economy and urban revival.
Full details on the program and complete speaker list is here on our website.
And finally, for something completely different. Here’s a link to the National Catholic Reporter. It’s an interesting overview of Pope Francis (a Techonomic Pope?) on the role of tech in the world. It speaks directly to the theme of this year’s flagship conference TE15, Re-Humanizing Society.