Innovation shines at Glendale’s Tech Week and Pitchfest

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In only its sophomore year, the second annual Glendale Tech Week reported increased attendance, added more locations and guest speakers as well as awarded a $25,000 prize package to a local start-up company.

Organized by the city of Glendale’s Economic Development Division, the event took place this past week and was anchored by an all-day “city summit” Wednesday that brought special guest speakers and leaders in the technology industry to the Alex Theatre.

Two of the 65 speakers included Dan Goods, a visual strategist with NASA, and Brian MacMahon, founder of Santa Monica-based Expert DOJO.

On Thursday, Fischer Imaging beat out eight other local and Los Angeles area-based companies in a “Shark Tank”-style competition, winning with its prototype breast-cancer screening and diagnosis machine.

Shabbir Bambot — chief executive and co-founder of Fischer Imaging — convinced a panel of investors, business leaders and city officials that his improved mammography machine should receive $25,000 in combined cash and services.

“Breast cancer is one of those cancers that doesn’t have to be [as prevalent] as it is right now. We can do a much better job in detection,” Bambot said. “We looked at the standard of care and found many improvements that can be made.”

According to Bambot, the machine produces higher resolution and contrast X-ray images while also reducing exposure to radiation. The device also allows for a more comfortable “cone-shaped” compression of the breast during a screening as opposed to the standard parallel plates.

“Being selected among some very strong competitors by our peers brings huge validation for our approach,” Bambot said.

Jennifer McLain, principal economic development officer for the city, said this year’s Tech Week benefited from additional spaces where events were held, including the Americana at Brand and the recently renovated Glendale Central Library.

“The biggest difference from last year is the level of programming interest from speakers and sponsors… We got about 100 submitting to participate, when, last year, we just called whoever we thought was in tech,” McLain said. “Now, they’re coming to us, and it’s an indication that companies are excited about [Tech Week].”

Roughly 800 people registered to attend a Tech Job Fair Thursday morning, where 30 potential employers set up booths at the Central Library. The event was previously held at the Verdugo Jobs Center and could accommodate only about 350 people.

The third annual “Valley Hackathon,” sponsored by the Valley Economic Alliance was held on Friday at the Central Library as an auxiliary Tech Week event. About 90 college and high school students took part in the all-day event, up from 50 participants last year.

Twitter: @JeffLanda