Open Innovation & Tech-for-Good: Benetech at NewCo Silicon Valley

By Benetech, posted on

At Benetech, we always seek new opportunities to strengthen existing ties and establish new contacts with our community. We were therefore delighted to partner with the NewCo business festival and proud to have been selected as a host company in the 2015 NewCo Silicon Valley, which was held earlier this month.

Based on the motto “Get out to Get in,” NewCo creates curated, city-wide “un-conferences” that showcase handpicked companies in their native habitats. The festival’s organizers define it as a new kind of event experience: “a mashup of an open studio tour and a business conference, with the vibe of a music festival.” Their goal is to introduce attendees to mission-driven organizations that are reshaping the landscapes of their chosen markets. Attendees select which participating companies they would like to visit and get behind-the-scenes look at these NewCos that host one-hour sessions in their headquarters, mixing executive presentations, open discussions, and product demos.

Our session, led by Vice President of Benetech Labs, Anh Bui, focused on open innovation and tech-for-good. We had a great turnout of engaged attendees eager to learn about Benetech’s founding principle of harnessing the power of technology for positive social impact. Anh explained Benetech’s social enterprise model and described how the Benetech team ignites communities to advance solutions to social problems, weaving together talent from the nonprofit, corporate, and open source technology sectors.

Anh’s opening remarks were followed by demos of our MathML Cloud and 3D Printing for Education projects, which received excellent feedback from our audience. MathML Cloud, launched just last month, is a free, open source, cloud-based tool that converts mathematical expressions into accessible formats, thus enabling readers who have visual disabilities or learning differences to study math concepts critical for successful science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. At the intersection of 3D printing and education, Benetech and partners are exploring new ways in which 3D printing technology in libraries and museums can be used to improve learning and accessibility. Both this project and MathML Cloud are products of Benetech Labs and of the DIAGRAM Center, a Benetech-led research and development initiative that makes it easier, cheaper, and faster to create and use accessible digital images.

Thanks to everyone who joined us at this year’s NewCo Silicon Valley. We appreciate your time, attention, and input. Regine Gilbert shared photos from our session on Twitter and said: “Awesome presentation @benetech @NewCoFest #NewCoSV doing great things with 3D printing and improving Learning.”

Many thanks also to NewCo’s organizers for this excellent opportunity to form new contacts with neighbors next door and across the Valley. See you next year!