DETROIT—Tech entrepreneurs from all over the United States gathering at Black Tech Week 2023 to grow their business and networks heard a common theme: Michigan is the best place to build your future. In this spirit, Lightship Foundation, organizers of Black Tech Week, will host its first-ever Black Tech Weekend event in Detroit, Oct. 12-14. at the Book Depository at Michigan Central.
Sponsored by the Song Foundation, Venture 313 Lightship Capital and Michigan Economic Development Corp., Black Tech Weekend will connect tech entrepreneurs, investors and professionals to education, resources, opportunities—and each other—in the Motor City. Detroit was selected to host Black Tech Weekend based on demand, the city’s growth in early-stage funding and investor activity, its rapidly emerging startups ecosystem, and abundance of Black entrepreneurial and professional talent across a multitude of tech sectors, from mobility and EV to ed tech to clean tech.
Lightship isn’t the only organization recognizing Michigan’s startup ecosystem; Detroit is ranked No. 1 as the top emerging startup ecosystem by Startup Genome’s 2022 Global Startup Ecosystem Report and Michigan as the fastest growing state for VC investment by Crunchbase.
Organized to empower the Black entrepreneurial journey, Black Tech Week and Weekend are leveraging Michigan and Detroit’s dedication and pathways created for Black entrepreneurs to succeed, especially those in high-tech industries. Programming at the upcoming Black Tech Weekend will feature panels and talks with Michigan’s thriving founder community. Michigan headquartered startups and tech companies Dunamis Energy, Evenscore, Justair and Live Your Song, tackling national challenges like clean energy, community organizing, clean air, and special needs education, are just a few examples of organizations growing and scaling their businesses, that have told their stories at Black Tech Week.
Black Tech Weekend will be held at the conclusion of Michigan Tech Week, the state’s largest tech conference attracting high-growth founders, investors, and thought leaders to Michigan. Launched in Detroit in 2022, Michigan Tech Week is a preeminent experience designed to showcase the leading innovations being developed across the state. For year two, MTW comes to the University of Michigan football stadium in Ann Arbor Oct 9-12. The event is expected to host close to 1,000 people, featuring more than 50 national speakers from the startup and venture capital ecosystem, through a diverse program covering AI, life sciences, mobility, robotics, sports tech, gaming, fintech, and founder-investor-custoemr matchmaking.
“Michigan is proud to be a welcoming home for innovation, discovery and authenticity for startups of all backgrounds and walks of life to recognize that they, too, can make it in Michigan,” said Quentin L. Messer, Jr., CEO of the MEDC. “Black Tech Weekend builds upon our mission of creating opportunities for tech entrepreneurs of all backgrounds to thrive in Michigan. It’s our mission for participants to realize he/she/they can accomplish any entrepreneurial dream here in Michigan. Work remains but this Weekend is important progress.”
Beyond its involvement in Black Tech Week, MEDC also helps Black entrepreneurs propel their enterprises to new heights and allowing them to scale and flourish through its participation in:
- Black Tech Saturdays
- Small Business Support Hubs
- Tailored grant programs
“Michigan’s thriving tech ecosystem, readily available STEM talent, and unwavering commitment to fostering inclusive business development, are just some of the ways the state provides an ideal platform for Black entrepreneurs to make our mark on the world of innovation,” said Johnnie Turage, Founder of Detroit’s Black Tech Saturdays. “Together, we’re building a dynamic community where diversity thrives. In Michigan, Black innovation knows no bounds.”
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with a focus on growing Michigan’s economy. An extension of its program, MEDC’s Talent Action Team is working in coordination with Michigan employers, education leaders and training providers to assist prospective jobseekers in pursuing career goals, including but not limited to Michigan’s EV and semiconductor industries.