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Tech Catalyst award will premiere at Tampa Bay Tech’s poweredUP

Margie Manning

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A rendering of the Tech Catalyst award by glass artist Nikolai Morse

The St. Pete Catalyst will debut its Tech Catalyst award May 23 at Tampa Bay Tech’s poweredUP technology festival.

The award is one of several highlights at poweredUP, including keynotes by noted Silicon Valley leaders Spence Murray, instigator at Salesforce, and Otto Berkes, co-founder of X-Box, as well as panel discussions featuring local tech executives who have led their companies to success.

Jill St. Thomas, executive director, Tampa Bay Tech

There also will be breakout sessions for startups at the events, Jill St. Thomas, CRO and executive director at Tampa Bay Tech, told Joe Hamilton, Catalyst publisher, on Startup Report. Click here to watch the full video.

Murray and Berkes have agreed to do one-on-one question-and-answer sessions for young companies and students.

“What an opportunity to get to talk to guys like Otto Berkes and Spence Murray and ask them really pointed questions [such as] when you started this company, did you hit this roadblock and what did you do about it?” St. Thomas said.

Tampa Bay Tech was the Catalyst’s first partner, so it’s appropriate to unveil the Tech Catalyst award at the event, Hamilton said.

“I wanted to do something in the spirit of being different and innovative,” Hamilton said.

The custom glass award was created by Nikolai Morse, whose work is featured in the Duncan McClellan Gallery. Morse, who is from the Washington, D.C. area, has been working with glass fulltime for 14 years.

“My goal is to make art that inspires hope and encourages viewers to look at the material world and our own bodies with reverence and gratitude,” Morse said.

His specialty is developing plasma sculptures, filled with electrifiable gasses that light up.

“Captured plasma in glass like lightning in a bottle that grounds to your touch or even just your magnetic field is an exhilarating experience. If I can light up one person’s imagination or make one person smile then the work is successful,” Morse said.

St. Thomas said the award speaks to the uniqueness of the St. Pete Catalyst.

“Just getting someone to open up for five minutes can really illuminate something extraordinary happening here. This award seems similar to me. Even at our award show, we’re very traditional with CIO of the Year, Tech Co of the Year. Catalyst embodies something unique. In any other show, there isn’t really an award that’s made for you. Our show is giving someone that opportunity,” she said.

The Catalyst also will have cameras set up at poweredUP to capture stories of the presenters and their companies and to record Hustle small business profiles, and Influencer profiles of leading business people. Pitchlyst, a Catalyst product to connect the startup community with investors, also will be onsite.

This is the third year for poweredUP, which was created to give technologists in the Tampa Bay area an opportunity to go beyond social networking and dive deeper into industry issues. “It’s a two-day conference crammed into one afternoon,” St. Thomas said.

This year’s poweredUP will be from 12:30 to 6 p.m. May 23 at the Mahaffey Theater and the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg. It’s free to employees who work at companies that are Tampa Bay Tech members, as well as students at most of the local universities that are affiliate members. It costs $125 for non-members to attend. Register here.

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