GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The first ever Tech Week Grand Rapids is underway with the final event planned for Saturday.
Tech Week is bringing together several established events like Demo Day and Confluence with some new additions. The economic development organization The Right Place is one of the organizers for the event.
“We just launched our 10-year tech strategy to transform Grand Rapids into the leading tech hub in the Midwest … we knew we needed a marquee tech event to showcase the vibrant and growing tech sector,” said Andria Romkema, the senior vice president of marketing and communications.
The event hopes to promote the existing technology companies in the area and attract new investment.
“You don’t need to go to the east coast or the west coast to have a thriving tech career,” Romkema said.
One of the events now incorporated into the new Tech Week is the Start Garden Demo Day where entrepreneurs pitch their businesses for grant funding.
“Everything and anything that we can do to make sure that West Michigan is visible and we’re on the map that we can compete with any other region,” Gonzalez said.
One of the 10 businesses awarded 20,000 dollars was NoodlePig. Chris Wessely, the founder of the fast casual ramen restaurant says the funding will be crucial as the business prepares to open in Grand Rapids.
“This really helps us cover some of these incurred expenses that were not foreseen, and I even had a 10% contingency built into my budget,” Wessely said.
NoodlePig will donate to charity, feeding three kids around the world for each bowl sold. The restaurant is using technology so customers can see the impact they are making around the world.
“Instead of McDonalds … how they broadcast how many billions of burgers are sold, I thought, how great would it be to show how many kids we fed? That will be our metric of success,” Wessely said.