Cucalorus Spotlights Tech, Entrepreneurs At Connect Conference

By Johanna Cano, posted Nov 6, 2018
The 24th annual Cucalorus Festival begins in Wilmington this week with films, stage performances by artists such as Superchunk and Connect, a two-day conference on technology and entrepreneurship that is now in its fourth year.

The Cucalorus Festival will start Tuesday night at tekMountain with “10X10 Challenge” where 10 local startups will be paired with production companies that will spend four days making promotional videos for them.

Last year, the film festival was rebranded as the Cucalorus Festival with Film, Stage and Connect as the three main programs.

This year’s Connect conference will be Thursday and Friday and will center around five tracks: Healthtech, Gigtech, Fintech, Community Brew and Startup.

Each topic will have a featured speaker followed by different break-out sessions, and a detailed program is available online.

Susan Ellis, director of corporate social innovation and brand at SAS, will be delivering the Connect keynote speech on how “speaking a language that connects technology to people can make all the difference in the world – literally – to a successful brand,” according to the Cucalorus program guide.

The Connect track features technology and entrepreneurship, with founders, CEOs and officials from Wilmington companies in attendance, all in recognition of the recent rise of those tech industries in the area, said Randall Johnson, Connect executive board president.

“Wilmington has been home to a surge in entrepreneurial activity related to innovative financial services, health care technologies, the sharing economy and biotechnology in recent years,” Johnson said. “Cucalorus, with its established tradition of both supporting local filmmakers while also bringing people from across the globe into Wilmington, presented a fantastic opportunity to celebrate that surge and amplify the momentum.”
The HealthTech conference will start with a HealthTech Symposium with Chris Hillier, executive director of New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s innovation center. Hillier will talk about the future direction of NHRMC Healthcare and public health in the US.

One HealthTech breakout session includes “Short Talks from Industry Insiders,” where panelists Keith Bullard from Vault, David Burke from Care Technologies Inc., Hilary Hatch from Vital Score Inc., Luke Marshall from VitalFlo and Nate O’Keefe from Roobrik will discuss patient engagement.

The GigTech conference will feature a panel on “AI [Artificial Intelligence] and the Sharing Economy.” Pat Petitti from Catalant, Robert Preville from Kwipped, Mark Steiner from GigSalad and moderator Mona Badie from GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy will talk about changes in the workplace and how artificial intelligence and big data will affect the way people work.

There will also be a FinTech conference on the future of banking with panelists Jonathan Rowe and Malaika Paquiot from nCino, Thomas Cozzolino from Salesforce, Timur Davis from Canapi Inc. and Xeth Waxman from Apiture.

Some of the FinTech breakout sessions are on topics such as “The Blockchain Revolution” moderated by Charlie Fink, Forbes contributing columnist, and “The Future of Financial Services” on disruptive services led by Davis and Christopher Roede from Poyner Spruill.

The Community Brew conference will showcase a panel on the North Carolina brewing industry from various perspectives. The panel includes Jacqueline Crane, brewery loan officer from Live Oak Bank, and Gary Sholar, owner of Edward Teach Brewery.

The Startups section is sponsored by the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. There will be featured startups including StoolDuel and myBeeHyve that will participate in a pitch competition.

The festival will close with the 10x10 Challenge promotional video showing Sunday.
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