TEDx and NewCo host outstanding conferences dedicated to Cincinnati's innovation activity


Cincinnati innovators took the spotlight at two major events earlier this month, starting with TEDxCincinnati, which packed downtown’s Cincinnati Masonic Center July 9 with 1,000 attendees.
 
“We definitely had a mix of participants, from first timers to repeat attendees,” TEDxCincinnati Director/Organizer Jami Edelheit says. “We sold out in three weeks even with a larger venue, and our waiting list was close to 200 people. We already have some exciting things in the works for the next main stage event.”
 
The five-hour event, emceed by Local 12’s Bob Herzog and Atlanta-based actress Allison Wonders, featured 23 presentations, including TED talks and performances. A mix of local and national speakers covered subjects ranging from hope and perseverance to new technologies and human trafficking.
 
TEDx talks were presented in two two-hour blocks, separated by a dinner break and the opportunity to explore Innovation Alley, where participants could get a Thai Yoga Massage, touch a snake from the Cincinnati Zoo, get a taste of the Maker Space at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, write a love note to Cincinnati, experience virtual reality with the University of Cincinnati and take part in activities presented by event sponsor United Way of Greater Cincinnati.
 
Among the highlights of the evening:
• Social justice advocate Jordan Edelheit’s live webcast with Dan from the Marion Correctional Facility to talk about poetry and TEDx events at the prison;
• A cheetah visit from the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden;
• Four Chords & a Guy, who performed decades of popular songs in a few minutes accompanied by simple music and a great sense of humor; and
• Aidan Thomas Hornaday, a 14-year-old philanthropist who speaks eloquently about the need to give and plays a mean blues harmonica.
 
Edelheit is thrilled with the response to TEDxCincinnati.
 
“It was awesome having Alex Faaborg come from Google Virtual Reality,” she says. “We had a line out the door for registration, and the first 100 people received a Google CardBoard Virtual Reality Glasses. Ed Smart and his Operation Underground Railroad met with Cincinnati Players before the event to discuss modern-day slavery. They’re now talking about collaborating on a program later this year.
 
“We loved including the some of the children from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and The Aubrey Rose Foundation in the finale with Eliot Sloan from Blessed Union Souls singing his hit song, ‘I Believe.’ As a result of that performance, Toby Christenson, Chris Lambert and Chris Lah are collaborating with Eliot to do a fundraising CD for Cincinnati Children’s Charitable Care Fund. They plan on involving community kids and Children’s Hospital patients. How exciting for this to be one of the many positive outcomes from TEDxCincinnati.”
 
Videos of all the TEDxCincinnati talks and performances will be available online in August.
 
On July 23, NewCo Cincinnati offered the field-trip version of a TED-type program, with 85 companies across the region hosting nearly 900 participants. From Northern Kentucky to Blue Ash, NewCo hosts brought attendees into their offices, breweries and factories for a unique and personal experience with Cincinnati innovators.
 
NewCo hosts were primarily startups but also included agencies, nonprofit organizations, higher education institutions and a couple of large corporations. Attendees could build their own schedule by geography, field of interest or subject.
 
A VIP reception to kick off NewCo Cincinnati was held July 22 with over 200 attendees.
 
The next day’s main NewCo event was divided into six one-hour sessions, with 30 minutes of travel time allotted between each session. Attendees trying to get from West Chester to OTR may have scrambled, but many sessions were located in the urban core and plenty of NewCo participants took advantage of Red Bike to move from session to session.
 
NewCo sessions varied greatly in content and style.
 
At the OTR Chamber of Commerce session, held in the Crown Building adjacent to Findlay Market, short presentations from the Chamber, Findlay Market and Red Door Project were followed by audience questions and discussion.
 
SpiceFire took participants on a tour of its stunning offices in SangerHalle on Race Street, gave a brief presentation, then broke up the group for a hands-on activity that provided a taste of its client experience.
 
Rockfish gave a short presentation, then let attendees try out Google Glass and Oculus Rift or just enjoy the view of downtown from their Mt. Adams perch.
 
A panel discussion by Cerkl, Activate Cincinnati, Starfire, Girl Develop It and Bad Girl Ventures looked at the local startup ecosystem from a female perspective.
 
At the end of the day, NewCo hosted a wrapup party at the Christian Moerlein Taproom for all attendees and hosts to do some networking while sharing their experiences of the day.
 
Both TEDxCincinnati and NewCo Cincinnati did an outstanding job of highlighting innovative activities taking over the region, not just in the startup community but in nonprofits and the arts as well. Yet, as the organizers of both events have said repeatedly, the 2015 hosts and presenters were by no means an exhaustive representation of Greater Cincinnati’s exciting entrepreneurial growth.
 
The depth and breadth of creativity in the region will ensure that the 2016 versions are just as compelling to attend. As word gets out about these events, expect those tickets to sell out even faster next year.
 

Read more articles by Julie Carpenter.

Julie Carpenter is a jack-of-all-trades with a background in cultural heritage tourism, museums and nonprofit organizations. She's a bit obsessed with the built environment and irregularly shares her musings on architecture, urban planning and city life on Facebook and Twitter (@StrawStickBrick).
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