Opinion: Stamford Innovation Week will show how a pandemic can transform business

Opinion: Stamford Innovation Week will show how a pandemic can transform business


For American businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic has been exceptionally difficult. To label it a game changer is an understatement.

With these unprecedented challenges businesses are being forced to be more creative, reactive, and of course innovative. Companies are turning to e-commerce, digital products and services, and virtual connections to continue doing business, all while remaining socially distant.


The instant shift from in-person, to a more digital space has mandated businesses to quickly adapt to the new norms and brainstorm new ways to keep people engaged.

To survive and thrive, they need to be proactive, innovative, and always prepared to transform how they drive business and deliver services.

That is exactly the message of necessity shared by more than 60 speakers at the upcoming 2020 Stamford Innovation Week (SiW), which has grown to become New England’s largest tech and innovation festival.



From Sept. 21-27, innovation leaders of finance, technology, online business, and government will be on-hand — virtually — to guide some 3,000 participants in discussions and brainstorming about the future of their businesses. Founded locally in 2018, SiW has been about inspiring fast-growth and transformative ways of doing business.


Presentations by leaders from Twitch and Tilting Point, two global online streaming competition and gaming tech publishing platforms, AT&T, Morgan Stanley, Mastercard, AXA-XL, UConn School of Business, Columbia University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stamford Hospital, and a Member of the House Financial Services Committee make up just a part of the diverse agenda. The week-long event is both a forum and networking opportunity for entrepreneurs, investors, and creative types to connect with companies, public officials, and students.


Three of SiW’s premiere events — Startup Weekend, Werth Institute Entrepreneur Series, and Innovation & Tech Conference — are entirely virtual, while SiW’s the Art & Music Festival on Sept. 25 will transform the Stamford Town Center parking garage into a drive-through participant experience.

The simple reason that SiW’s tech and innovation conference has been so successful is the high physical density of corporate headquarters, CEOs, top executives, and major investors that call our region home.


We also enjoy a high-quality of living and deep and highly-educated talent pool in the Boston to New York corridor. That advantage has a different look this year, as people are stuck in their homes, but remains an important reason for the event’s relevance.

As the U.S. Open and NFL play before empty stadiums, we are learning how large-scale events could be one of the most-impacted industries by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the same manner, tech, music, movie, weddings, or business festivals have all had to go back to the drawing board and figure out ways to keep their events thriving.

SiW felt a responsibility to support our audience and partners — entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes that look forward to sharing insights at our conference.

Rather than simply cancel SiW 2020, the Stamford Partnership board took a deep plunge into the digital conference model to stay ahead of the curve and build the capacity now to network thousands of followers and share the wisdom of these top business minds. So, while 2019’s conference had participants from Boston, Hartford and New York, Europe and California, this year our geographic portfolio expands even further.

If the coronavirus has taught us anything, it is that the world has transitioned into a more digital realm and everyone needs to embrace this seismic shift, and perhaps even find advantages to it.

Gone are the times where business and events could solely rely on a physical brick-and-mortar presence. Now, it becomes necessary to rethink and re-imagine how to grab the attention of those entrepreneurs we need to reach and provide value that is not dependent on physical proximity.

It is a lesson that some of the highly successful companies that SiW features can take from the event itself. We encourage the entire community to become a part of this growing annual event that spotlights the community, academic and business leadership our region has to offer. Learn more at: www.siweek.org


Jon Winkel is the founder of Stamford Innovation Week and the executive director of Stamford Partnership,
public-private-partnership working to enhance the quality of life for those who live and work in Stamford.

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