The St. Pete Catalyst presented the first Tech Catalyst award to St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman Thursday.
Joe Hamilton, Catalyst publisher, presented the award to Kriseman during poweredUP, Tampa Bay Tech’s technology festival, an afternoon of keynotes and panel discussions taking a deep dive into technology.
The award is designed to recognize an individual who makes a difference in the community, challenges norms and illustrates innovative thinking, said Jill St. Thomas, executive director of Tampa Bay Tech.
“This year’s winner is a true tech catalyst and we are grateful for all he’s done to grow our tech community,” St. Thomas said.
The Tampa Bay region is Florida’s largest and fastest growing technology hub, Kriseman said, and he called on the sold-out crowd at the Mahaffey Theater to continue to foster innovation in the area.
“I want to encourage all of you to seek out opportunities to mentor a young student who wants to be successful in the technology industry. Your investment in their growth and development could mean the difference between a young person seeking out a career in technology or finding themselves on a different path,” Kriseman said. “If we work at it we can keep the innovative spirit that drives the Tampa Bay technology boom going by inspiring the next generation.”
Also during powerdUP, Otto Berkes, CEO of Bog Bridges, a digital transformation consulting firm, talked about overcoming the obstacles to innovation through meeting the needs of customers, fostering a culture of inquisitiveness, and committing to support educated risks.
“The real goal of innovation is to stay ahead of competition and the changing needs of your customers,” said Berkes, X-Box co-founder and HBO Go developer. “The real challenge of innovation is to create the right conditions in your organization to enable it to thrive.”
Customer focus is key, said Spence Murray, instigator at Salesforce and former lead developer at Netscape.
“We set out to try to introduce the world to the web at Netscape,” Murray said. “I was amazed by what could happen if a team rallied around an idea – not something they set out to build but something that’s absolutely necessary for the customer … The customer was the focus, and this became a major theme for me.”
poweredUP also featured panel discussions from technology leaders at local firms. Look for more in upcoming stories from the St. Pete Catalyst.