A world of opportunity at annual CEWIT conference

CEWIT business development chief Larry Weber

The information-technology world is coming to Melville.

Billing itself as “New York’s premier IT conference and international forum on emerging technologies for a smarter world,” the Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology’s 12th annual international conference – CEWIT2015, for short – is slated for Oct.19 and 20 at the Melville Marriott.

For two days, scientists, academicians, inventors, corporate executives and investors from around the globe will chat up emerging technologies in healthcare, infrastructure and energy through a series of workshops, discussion groups and networking sessions designed to foster a smarter global environment.

And this year, CEWIT is serious about that “global” part. Satya Sharma, director of the NYSTAR-funded center of excellence on the Stony Brook University campus, noted ramped-up international presence scheduled for CEWIT2015, with over a dozen companies from Israel slated to attend, joined by “closer to 20” from South Korea.

“Last year we had six, maybe seven or eight companies from overseas,” Sharma told Innovate LI. “This year it’s closer to 30 or 35 companies. We’re trying to combine these companies with local companies on Long Island, so they can explore the possibilities of working with each other in their markets over here and cooperating in their markets over there.”

Lawrence Weber, CEWIT’s director of business development, noted as many as 20 Long Island firms already registered to attend the event, as well as a host of individual inventors and investors from the Island and beyond.

While the conference is primarily designed to help those domestic enterprises network with potential regional and international partners, the strong presence of overseas executives should prove beneficial to Stony Brook University and statewide programs like the Start-Up NY initiative, which creates tax-free zones around colleges and universities for companies launching in or relocating to New York.

Start-Up NY will be represented at the conference, Weber noted.

“All of these companies have a goal of expanding their operations here in New York,” he said. “We want to create an attractive environment and show them how they can link their technologies to what’s happening at the university.”

CEWIT2015 attempts to do that through what Weber described as “four mini-conferences” with a number of specific tracks, each exploring a particular topic in depth through short seminars and panel discussions. Registered guests are invited to move from track to track during the two-day event, jumping from a lecture on telemedicine to a mobile-security pitch to a social media roundtable, depending on their specific interests.

All told, over 60 subtopics are included on the conference agenda, which is spliced into seven specific tracks: cybersecurity, health and medical technologies, Big Data analytics, smart energy, creating smart urban systems, the Internet of Things and even a philosophical look at IT’s role in society.

It’s all designed to “bring academic research and industrial interests together,” Weber said, including students, inventors, faculty, technology experts, business leaders and, of particular interest to the entrepreneurial-minded, investors.

“We have a pitch clinic where startup companies can present to a panel of distinguished investment experts,” the business development director noted. “We have another entrepreneurship and venture capital panel populated by investors.”

Those investment-themed selections are part of content that “focuses on the entrepreneur,” Weber noted, “geared toward startups, early-phase companies and inventors.”

“We’ve identified a great need in this area to grow new companies in the CEWIT subject domain areas,” he added.

But the conference’s primary purpose remains the encouragement of smart technological development regionally, nationally and globally. Sharma expressed particular enthusiasm for the tracks exploring the Internet of Things – the ever-expanding network of physical “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors and network connectivity – and Big Data analytics.

“It is claimed that out of all the data that has ever been collected in the world since the dawn of civilization, 90 percent has been collected in the last three years,” Sharma noted. “So how to you make sense of all that? There are several companies trying to do that. Demographic analyses of who buys what and where, data collected in the medical fields … it all leads to new technological development.”

And technological development leads naturally to economic development – so while CEWIT2015 remains rooted in the expansion of global tech, even Sharma acknowledged the conference’s economic-development potential, “not only for our region but for the rest of the country.”

That includes a heavy focus on “budding entrepreneurs and what they need insofar as protecting their intellectual property,” according to the CEWIT director.

“The conference is focused on technology and science dissemination,” Sharma said. “But equally important for the conference is not just talking about the research and the advances in technology, but also seeing that some of these technological advances can be converted into economic wealth.”