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South By Southwest Interactive Guru Slated For CIE Conference

By Jenny Callison, posted Jul 17, 2014
A bright star in the high-tech firmament will headline first anniversary festivities for the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) in September, the university announced Thursday.
 
Hugh Forrest, director of the SXSW Interactive Festival, will be the keynote speaker at the CIE’s inaugural Coastal Connect Entrepreneur and Capital Conference on Sept. 4, according to a news release from UNCW. The conference will target entrepreneurial leaders and investors from the Southeast.
 
The conference will take place at the Coastline Convention Center.
 
Attendees will hear Forrest speak at a networking breakfast. A total of about 50 other tech experts will speak at the conference’s breakout sessions and panels, according to the release.

Forrest, who was named TIME magazine’s 2011 Game Changer of the Year, has helped the SXSW Interactive Festival emerge as one of the world’s most influential events for the new media industry, the release stated. Entrepreneur magazine said of the festival, “It is arguably the go-to event for digital creatives and innovators from all over the world to meet and share their ideas.”

Jim Roberts, executive director of the CIE, drew on his 10-year friendship with Forrest to convince him to come to Wilmington for the conference.

“South by Southwest has a huge economic impact on Austin but, more important, serves as a cool branding and economic development opportunity for the city. One hundred people move to Austin every day, and most of them are highly educated people looking for a balanced quality of life,” he said.
 
“We are working with several partners such as WDI, the Wilmington chamber, MARBIONC, the N.C. Tech Association, the Internet Summit organization and more to make this happen for Wilmington region,” Roberts continued. “The beach, river and our quality of place serve as a magnet but we hope to use examples like NextGlass, EasyVote and others to prove we can build and grow sexy startups, too.”

Since the CIE opened in early September, it has offered a regular series of events aimed at the technology and entrepreneurial communities.
 
“Over the past year we’ve been able to help create and foster strong relationships for the Wilmington business community,” Roberts said in a statement, adding that he was “thrilled” at plans for the conference, which is on a much larger scale than anything the center has done in its first year.

“Attendees will have a unique opportunity to learn from some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the Southeast and meet with investors who are looking for the next big thing,” he said.

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