MSFS Students Explore the Tech Industry Through Second DC Day

by Christian Conroy, MSFS/MPP '19

On Friday, December 12th, several MSFS students visited DC-based startup incubator 1776. Founded through a generous grant from the DC government under then mayor Vincent Gray, 1776 provides working space, mentorship, and funding opportunities for innovators focusing on leveraging entrepreneurship to address policy gaps in education, smart cities, health, transportation, energy, fintech, and cybersecurity.

MSFS students first heard from 1776 Campus Coordinator Shahier Rahman about how the innovation hub works by linking municipal officials with pioneering entrepreneurs developing emerging technologies. Rahman walked everyone through the internally built Union system 1776 uses to schedule one-on-one mentorship sessions, training events, pitch competitions, and forums with municipal officials in the US and abroad. Next, MSFS students participated in an interactive panel discussion featuring Vaughan Turekian, Science and Technology Advisor to US Secretary of State; Cody Ankeny, Manager of Global Policy for the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI); Karolina Filipiak, Senior Manager for Government Affairs at ITI; Matthew Colbert, Founder and CEO of Spend Consciously; and Dan Kleinbaum, COO of Beyonic Inc.

Having all been involved with international start-up collaboration efforts, the panelists addressed the different models of government involvement in innovation taking place across North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. The panelists also touched on tech takeaways from the recent election, namely the challenges that exist with addressing the digital divide and how it impacts tech giants’ interactions with both their physical and digital communities. The discussion concluded with a prescient summary of how technology and innovation can be used to enhance multilateral relations.

Following the discussions at 1776, the panelists and MSFS students moved to a nearby restaurant for further informal discussions about how to get involved with international technology policy and global entrepreneurship. Events such as these provide opportunities for students to both learn about career paths in particular industries, as well as to network with professionals in their prospective fields.