by Eric Schmid

St. Louis' inaugural Tech Week kicks off Monday morning with a collection of panels, tours, demonstrations, meetups and other events designed to highlight the region's numerous technology related industries.

Organizers see it as a prime opportunity to widely telegraph the depth of the St. Louis region's tech and innovation scene.

"The data economy cuts across everything," said Emily Hemingway, executive director of Tech STL, one of Tech Week's main organizers. "The opportunity for us is allowing our disruptors, creatives, innovators to take to the streets and tell this story about all the great stuff that's happening in St. Louis."

Over the next five days, her organization estimates as many as 5,000 people will attend more than 40 events planned at dozens of venues in both Missouri and Illinois. They cover sectors regional leaders have been vocal about in recent years, like ag tech and geospatial, as well as ones that Hemingway said are up and coming, like extended reality and robotics.

The most important aspect of the week's events to Hemingway is that they don't cost anything to attend, though some panels and meetups are already sold out of virtual tickets.

"That was such a big priority for us," Hemingway said. "The reason you host tech week is to activate the community, it's to open the doors and let anyone who feels like they would benefit from being in the room, let them in the room."

The weeklong event also serves as a way to visibly connect people and innovation happening across different sectors that rely on technology and data, said Bob Olwig, who leads global partner alliances for World Wide Technology.

"I don't know if we always come together and share in our experiences," Olwig said. "There's a little bit of, we just don't know what we have in St. Louis."

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