OPINION: Could Summit be connective tissue that removes silos?

Central Florida’s VR/AR Association chapter might have unlocked on Thursday something that has been a missing piece of the Orlando tech industry’s recent surge in momentum.

As I popped my head in and out of sessions all day, I watched as leaders from the region sat on panels sharing expertise in widely disparate industries that all had tech in common.

Healthcare. Entertainment. Education.

It was enough variety to make my head spin.

Last week, we shared that local tech people were excited because the summit would give audiences – local and otherwise – a glimpse at what this community has to offer.

I will take that one step further: the summit could become the connective tissue that Orlando has needed to really grow the tech community exponentially and perhaps knock down some silos.

Look, there is nothing new in this column when it comes to our region’s expertise.

Health tech led by some healthcare industry giants.

A gaming community that has grown around Iron Galaxy and Electronic Arts, along with an EA-led gaming school.

A tech workforce worth claiming as our own that would give us a leg up when it comes to building companies in emerging technologies like, well, VR/AR.

Supportive startup community through initiatives like Starter Studio and Startup Weekend that tries to seed our future tech leaders.

Understand that this list only RIGHT NOW is getting to the defense industry-sized elephant in the community.

But what we should take from the Summit is what is possible when you put all of that together in one room.

As a tech and a business reporter for more than a decade, the word “serendipity” takes on new meaning.

It’s the idea that sometimes really good things happen by chance encounters.

But I have also thought for years that the beauty of tech ecosystems is that they create their own serendipity with these gatherings.

So, there is no doubt in my mind that people who had never met finally did so at the summit or the tech expo the next day.

It’s also likely that some of these will turn into new business ideas or new customer-vendor relationships sometime soon – if it hasn’t already.

Just listening to the conversations at lunch makes me confident that this will happen.

Informally, I have been comparing Orlando’s tech ecosystem to others across the state and regions I had covered tech in before on a semi-regular basis. It just happens when you are immersed, no pun intended.

Every time, it returned to the fact that I saw great things happening here but in silos.

If we can capture the energy of the Summit and target these silos with specific invitations, we can start to break down some of the silos and see how the tech ecosystem might take off like a rocket ship.

Oh yeah, have I mentioned space yet?