Lever to Hold 2021 Innovation Summit
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Lever will again highlight regional economic development at its 2021 Innovation Summit at the Berkshire Innovation Center in Pittsfield on Thursday, Sept. 23 and Friday, Sept. 24.
"We're so excited to present another Innovation Summit event after our 2019 event in Williamstown, which drew more than 250 people," said Lever Executive Director Jeffrey Thomas. "We're honored to have distinguished guests from across the state joining us this year, including CEOs of state agencies and incredibly successful Massachusetts companies, Lever alumni who have gone on to create jobs and win major contracts, and other incredible people who help drive the regional economy. This work is stronger because of our community of innovators, and it's thrilling to bring them together for this event."
With the theme "Innovating Innovation," this two-day event will feature intrapreneurs who "innovate from within" mature companies, a discussion of rural innovation, and presentations from leaders who are innovating for inclusion.
The summit will begin with the Berkshire Intrapreneur Challenge pitch event, where a panel of expert judges will award a $25,000 Lever Innovation Grant to the company with the most scalable idea and the best go-to-market strategy. Lever is currently accepting applications from Berkshire companies for the Innovation Challenge; to apply or learn more, visit leverinc.org/intrapreneur-challenge-2021
Later on Sept. 23, Steve Nielsen, CEO of Dycom Industries, will give a keynote speech on how Dycom innovates from within. Dycom, a Fortune 1000 company with 14,000 employees, is the leading provider of specialty services, including construction, engineering, and program management supporting the country's telecom backbone. Dycom staff continuously develop new innovations to expand the company's service offerings to clients.
Kenn Turner, CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, will deliver the day's second keynote speech. The MA Life Sciences Center has long been a champion of innovation and infrastructure development in the Berkshires. Kenn comes to the MA Life Sciences Center from MassPort, where he led diversity and equity initiatives.
On Sept. 24, Carolyn Kirk, executive director of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, will give a keynote speech highlighting the Commonwealth's response to COVID-19, including MassTech's partnership with Lever on the COVID-19 Innovation Challenge series, which began in June 2020 and involved more than 30 companies—from established corporations to new startups—to advance innovations in PPE, COVID safety, and connection technologies.
Also on Sept. 24, panelists will discuss rural innovation and diversity, equity, and inclusion in innovation, and answer audience questions. Guests will have the opportunity for open networking. The summit will incorporate virtual and in-person programming, including an outdoor option for participation.
This is Lever's second, biennial Innovation Summit. The 2019 summit featured the conclusion of Lever's 2019 Berkshire Intrapreneur Challenge, presentations from regional innovators, a panel discussion featuring regional innovation centers, and keynote talks by Carlo Zaffanella from General Dynamics, and by Steve Case, founder of America Online.