The UnConference will take place at the new Convention Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

UnConference: A Meeting of Innovative Minds

Sept. 18, 2014
The UnConference, which will take place Sept. 24 in Cleveland, is a way for companies, such as Rockwell Automation, to explore innovative ideas as well as find new partners. 

If there is a room full of innovative minds, Scot Tutkovics, vice president of Engineering of Rockwell Automation (IW 500/158) wants to be there.  

As an anchor manufacturer in Northeast Ohio since 1994, Rockwell Automation has relied on innovation to create new products and services for its markets.  In fact, the company has received a record number of patents over the past few years.

So when NorTech, a technology-focused economic development group, created the UnConference, which will take place Sept. 24 in Cleveland, Ohio, as a space for ideas to flow freely, Tutkovics signed on.

The conference has no scheduled speakers but instead offers mentoring sessions. Tutkovics is one of the mentors and says he hopes to both give others advice and see what ideas are floating around.

“The conference is an opportunity for the unexpected to happen,” explains Tutkovics. “We could discover some connections, partnership or pairings that we wouldn’t have experienced in our regular daily operations.”

Rockwell isn’t alone in their quest to seek out the next best thing.  More than 100 companies, research institutions and non-profits are showing up as well, including Eaton Corp., Lubrizol and NASA Glenn Research Center.

“Companies need to be competitive to move forward and one of the ways to do that is to meet the movers and the shakers,” says Byron C. Clayton, vice president of Cluster Acceleration for NorTech.

“Northeast Ohio is full of emerging technologies," Clayton adds. " Finding ways of developing these technologies is the cornerstone of  how new companies are created and how established companies find new business opportunities.”

In fact, a perfect example of successful matching is the case of Rockwell and Vadxx Energy. At a 2011 energy conference hosted by NorTech, Rockwell met the company, which converts plastic into higher value energy products, at its idea stage. Vadxx was looking for a partner in order to build a factory. Rockwell liked what they saw and helped the company reduce their time to market through a variety of automation solutions for their plant. 

“It was a perfect match,” says Tutkovics. “The company turned out to be great for this region and is currently expanding into other regions as well.”

One reason this partnership worked so well was that “both parties were very clear from day one what they could bring to the table,” states Tutkovics.  

And NorTech is committed to setting up that table. 

“Our role is to take the depth of knowledge available in Northeast Ohio and pair up companies who can grow stronger through partnerships that are structured in a variety of ways."

“Innovation has a firm hold in Northeast Ohio," says Clayton.

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