Knoxville, TENN. — During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Knoxville Technology Council (KTech) has continued its mission to connect and support the technology community in the Greater Knoxville region. At a time when technology has become more important than ever, KTech is bringing together tech leaders for virtual events and advancing initiatives in the areas of education, workforce development, and healthcare. This rapidly growing organization recently celebrated its one-year anniversary and plans to expand its efforts in 2021.
KTech was founded by John McNeely, Senior Vice President at Avertium, and Brandon Bruce, CEO of Uncat. These entrepreneurs recognized the need for an organization to connect and advocate for the technology community in order to support innovation and economic growth in the Greater Knoxville Region.
KTech publicly launched on August 15, 2019 with a technology showcase attended by more than 300 technology leaders, entrepreneurs, and developers. Since then, KTech has hosted more than thirty events and quickly pivoted to hosting virtual events in March 2020.
“I’m extremely proud of our first year successes at KTech. The KTech board and its members have navigated through what has been a year of constant challenges,” said Tom Lakins, KTech Chairman and AVP for Elavon / US Bank. “From planning and conducting sold-out in-person events late in 2019 and early 2020, to providing informative virtual events once the pandemic occurred, we’ve strived to meet the needs of our growing technology community.”
KTech made its 2020 virtual events free to all attendees to better connect and support the technology community during a challenging time. Expert panelists provided valuable information to help businesses respond to the pandemic and highlighted the regional response in specific industries, such as healthcare, non-profits, managed IT, marketing, human resources, sales, and telecommunications.
In addition to hosting events, KTech followed its founders’ goals to get things done and make an impact by launching several initiatives in its first year, including a Jobs Board with openings across member companies, a Volunteer Board in partnership with Volunteer East Tennessee, and KTech Women in Tech, which is revolutionizing the experience of women in technology.
As part of its mission to develop technology talent, KTech has partnered with organizations at the K-12, university, and professional level to support training, certifications, and educational challenges. In 2019, KTech sponsored Google Cloud Hero, hosted by the University of Tennessee, and partnered with the Knox Education Foundation (formerly Great Schools Partnership) to host PolitiCode, in which K-12 students taught elected officials how to program robots, engineer audio tracks, and build apps. For the PolitiCode event, KTech was a finalist for the Public Policy Advocacy Innovation Award by the Technology Councils of North America (TECNA).
“PolitiCode and Google Cloud Hero were two events that helped put KTech on the map. As a new organization, it was great for our members and our community to receive national attention,” said Brandon Bruce, co-founder of KTech.
In response to COVID-19, KTech compiled a list of Business Resources and Educational Resources for Online Learning. KTech board members worked with the Knox Education Foundation and the Knox County School Board to develop a virtual learning plan for K-12 students and support the eKnox Task Force’s efforts to bring broadband internet access to all Knox County households. KTech also participated in the Comcast Digital Equity Summit focused on using telehealth to improve health outcomes and quality of life, especially for seniors.
KTech is a member-led organization that is quick to turn feedback into action. An example of this response is Women in Tech, which launched in February 2020, spearheaded by KTech board member and CIO of Clayton Homes, Stephanie Flood.
“We recognize that Knoxville women in technology are looking for like-minded individuals who are dealing with the same challenges, craving the same opportunities, and seeking new ways to grow,” explained Flood. “We are excited to provide opportunities to connect members of the community that believe in and advocate for women in technology.”
KTech has big plans for 2021 including KTech Peer Groups for members, and technology and career certifications for talent development. Businesses in all industries are welcome to join. More information about becoming a KTech member and upcoming events can be found at: https://www.knoxtech.org/
About the Knoxville Technology Council
The Knoxville Technology Council (KTech) connects, develops, promotes, and advocates for the technology industry in the Greater Knoxville region. The technology industry is essential for the Knoxville community to thrive. KTech unites the region’s technology leaders through networks, events, and resources. KTech is advancing Knoxville as a technology hub.