Techonomy Conference 2012: Objectives of Technology-Driven Economic Revitalization

On Wednesday, September 12th business leaders, political figures, and technology experts came together for the annual Techonomy Conference in Detroit. Hosted by the Detroit Economic Club, the conference’s agenda focused on the role of technology as a vital component of achieving social progress and economic growth.  This single day program is especially committed to the issues of “reigniting U.S. competitiveness and economic growth, creating jobs, and revitalizing cities in a technologized age”. Featured speakers included Grady Burnett, the Vice President of Facebook’s Global Market Solutions, James Dougherty, an Adjunct Senior Fellow for Business and Foreign Policy on the Council of Foreign Relations, and Justin Fox, the Editorial Director of the Harvard Business Review. They addressed the crowd on topics ranging from challenges in the era of globalization to the democratization of finance and product development to the future of manufacturing and its impact on employment. Audience members were also greeted by the founder of Techonomy, David Kirkpatrick, and treated to speeches on individual entrepreneurial development and other related topics.

The conference took a local look at Michigan and Detroit’s economic struggles for revitalization and at the challenges faced auto-mobile industry. Described as the Silicon Valley of an “earlier era”, Detroit is said to represent the larger issues facing American cities, including adapting to changes in education, employment, and infrastructure brought on by an increasingly globalized market society. Some have questioned the conference’s location of Detroit due to current economic struggles. Techonomy’s founder sends a different message, citing Detroit’s troubles as emblematic of cities that have missed the opportunities of technology in the past but have the potential to resolve these issues. Even a recently hurting automobile industry, a defining characteristic of Detroit, stands to make substantial gains from strengthening its tech culture of efficiency and educational achievement.

What were the goals and expectations of Techonomy? The event sought to utilize the revitalization of industry through technological advances, entrepreneurship, and innovation as major strategies for economic recovery. A focus on the increasing globalization of business and industry practices seemed also to be an objective of the conference. Intent on keeping America pushing the technological envelope, speakers discussed the future of expanding innovation and inspiring competitive growth. Complementarily, lecturers represented a diverse background of national industry and intellectual leadership, to address the concern of declining US competitiveness in detail and tackle the issue from unique viewpoints.

What can the public expect to come from this meeting of multi-disciplinary minds? Perhaps policy-makers will be influenced by the incredible support from the business community for this technology initiative as a means of creating jobs and stimulating urban development. Another possible outcome is a renewed emphasis on education for current and future generations to establish a more highly-skilled workforce with improved techno-literacy. Finally, perhaps Americans will see more pressure for regulatory reform easing start-up business restrictions. Ultimately, conference publicity should push technology to the forefront of economic recovery initiatives as a tool for improving US competitiveness and improving urgent urban issues to speed along city development.

Forbes highlights examples of innovative entrepreneurs in the Detroit area who exemplify these aims and serve as best-practice models for aspiring start-up companies. With the help of the Techonomy and its conference speakers, the American public may be able to look forward to more success stories like these.

Posted by: Sophia Higgins

Sources: Techonomy, Forbes, CNBC

Photo Credit: 2010_08_05_techonomy_105 @ Techonomy courtesy of Flickr user dserals



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