Despite the ongoing pandemic, and in some cases as a result of it, innovation is alive and well in Pasadena, as the organization Innovate Pasadena intends to show during its annual Connect Week, which is being presented in an online format this year.
Connect Week takes place Monday through October 24, although several events are scheduled to begin as early as Friday, before the formal start to the week-long celebration of technological innovation, organizers said.
The more than 30 tech-centered online events include activities such as app-building seminars and low temperature metal casting, along with a host of speakers and discussions covering a wide array of tech-related topics, from entrepreneurship and branding to climate change.
While the pandemic has slowed many aspects of society and the economy, new ideas continue to flourish in Pasadena, Innovate Pasadena President Beth Kuchar
“Innovation is not dead, that’s for sure. We do still see many innovations that are happening, new technologies that are emerging,” she said.
“I think one of the effects the pandemic has had is while, yes, it has spawned some new technologies that have been released out there, I think it’s also helped to accelerate technologies and innovations that were already under development,” Kuchar added.
From touch-free temperature scanning door security systems to ventilator machines to unique face masks, new inventions and innovations have continued to pour out of the city amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Not only is technology evolving in reaction to the pandemic, but so are people’s attitudes and habits toward it, according to Kuchar.
Looking at healthcare, for example, patients have long been leary of virtual doctor visits or diagnosis, she said.
“One of the things that this [pandemic] might accelerate is people being more trusting of some of those distance type interactions,” Kuchar said.
Working from home has made countless people familiar with video meeting software.
“And we’ve seen 3-D printing technologies come out in force to help some of our first responders and some of our hospitals respond to and deal with shortages of PPE,” Kuchar said.
Kuchar pointed to a mobile app recently developed by Innovate Pasadena staff on behalf the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce to help keep residents up-to-date on the offerings of local restaurants. The app can be downloaded at pasadena.belocalstrong.com.
The planned week of events “lives up to the name of Connect Week in that it’s helping to create these links between institutions and resources and people, Kuchar said.
“I understand people have a Zoom fatigue these days, but we’re hoping that we’ve got some pretty enticing topics to pull people back onto their Zoom accounts and attend,” she added.
Alex Maleki, who serves as managing director of the tech company incubator Idealab, said he has also seen how the challenges of today are fostering innovation.
“As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of all invention,” he said. “I think as people have to figure out what to do and how to survive and innovate… we’re seeing a high level of innovation. And I think that will continue for some time,” he said.
“You’re seeing things around: curbside delivery and how retailers and restaurants and businesses have to find new ways to entice customers and provide value,” Maleki said. “So I think there’s a number of areas where again, just driven out of pure necessity, we’re going to see innovation.”
New tech startups continue to spout up even amid the pandemic,” he said. “We started one in the last month.”
“Obviously we’re dealing with all the changes and all the new scenarios out there, but we’re continuing to do our best to push our companies forward and help them in any way that they can, and ultimately help to make a big impact on the world.”
More information on Connect Week, including a full schedule of events, is available online at connectpasadena.com.