A graphic with date and time of Northern's first annual Tech Summit

ABERDEEN, S.D. – With nearly 20 speakers from an array of industries and backgrounds, there’s something for everyone, entrepreneur or not, at the first annual Technology and Entrepreneurship Summit, hosted by Northern Innovation and Startup Center and the Aberdeen Development Corporation.

“Regardless of if you are an entrepreneur or interested in technology, you should attend this summit,” said Michael Bockorny, chief executive officer of the Aberdeen Development Corporation. “The lineup of presenters and the subjects they cover will be of value to anyone, no matter where you are in your business journey.”  

Bea Smith, Director of Northern Innovation and Startup Center, hopes the summit will encourage the community to embrace technology and offer insight into the best ways to use new technology.

“The speakers and topics will inspire innovation, creativity, and adaptability which are important to all businesses and organizations,” said Smith.

The event is Wednesday, Nov. 15 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Johnson Fine Arts Center and will focus on the intersection of technology and entrepreneurship.

“Entrepreneurial thinking is crucial for existing businesses and organizations to remain relevant, competitive, and sustainable,” said Northern State University President Neal Schnoor. “An entrepreneurial mindset is essential in today's dynamic and competitive environment. It enables organizations to identify and capitalize on opportunities, manage risks, and foster a culture of innovation and adaptability.”

The summit will feature insightful discussions, networking opportunities and engaging presentations by tech experts, as well as successful entrepreneurs.

The opening speaker will address the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in cybersecurity. Kyla Guru, CEO/Founder of Bits N’ Bytes Cybersecurity Education, will provide a toolkit of resources for others looking to enter the cyber field, having started in the field herself at the age of 14 and worked in threat intelligence, security operations, and red teaming. Guru will cover the pros and cons of AI, such as its potential use for threat emulation and reconnaissance, as well as disinformation campaigns and deepfake technology, which disproportionately impacts women and marginalized populations.

Throughout the day, there will be several panel discussions. The topics will include podcasts, women entrepreneurs and using technology to take a business to the next level, Smith said.

Dr. Radhika Dirks, co-founder and CEO of XLabs and Ribo AI, is the keynote speaker. Dirks has been a trailblazer in the use of AI from enhancing human cognition to discovering novel pharmaceuticals and automating scientific experiments. No one is better equipped than Radhika Dirks to answer both the big questions and the practical considerations about generative AI. She’s been a crucial voice in the AI conversation for years, was named to Deloitte’s top women in the AI world, and has been featured everywhere from Fast Company to the BBC. She founded and leads the only other moonshot factory that exists outside of Google. Radhika was also a founding member of Shell’s $1.5 billion venture capital group and was COO of Rotary Gallop, a game theory-based fintech firm. Her work on quantum computing and Artificial Intelligence has been cited hundreds of times. She holds a doctorate in quantum computing and a masters in nanotechnology from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Tickets are available online at northernstartupcenter.com/summit for $50 per tickets. There is a discount for groups of four or more.  

About the Northern Innovation and Startup Center

The Northern Innovation and Startup Center was created in 2022 in partnership with the Aberdeen Development Corporation. The Center’s goal is to build a rural tech startup ecosystem by working with innovators, nonprofits, and rural communities to create more digital jobs in northeastern South Dakota and launch tech startups.

Learn more about the Center and see other upcoming events at northernstartupcenter.com.

About the Aberdeen Development Corporation

The Aberdeen Development Corporation is a private nonprofit corporation with the mission to advance Aberdeen and the northeast South Dakota region for all. Business retention, expansion and job growth are critical for creating a vibrant and thriving community. They leverage resources to make Aberdeen the South Dakota choice for people and businesses. Their primary areas of focus are business development, business expansion and business retention.

Schedule of Events

  • 9 a.m. – Opening speaker
    • The Role of AI in Cybersecurity 
      • Kyla Guru, Bits N’ Bytes Cybersecurity Education
  • 10 a.m. – Breakout Sessions
    • She Means Business: Empowering Female Entrepreneurship
      • Grace Kramer, eqiUTI
      • Katie Washnok, Blackout Industries 
      • Kelly Brandlee, Back Forty Beef & Adventure Farms
    • Navigating the AI Landscape – Q&A with Dr. Radhika Dirks
      • Radhika Dirks, XLabs & Ribo AI
  • 11 a.m. – Breakout Sessions
    • Technology in Arts and Design: Applying the Entrepreneurship Toolset to an Artist’s Studio
      • Daniel Kariko, School of Art and Design at East Carolina University 
    • The Digital Revolution: The Power of Podcasts  
      • Tommy Defea & Tanner Baird, Massenomics Podcast
      • Katie Washnok & Brodie Mueller, Micropolitan Podcast
      • Franne Sippel & Becky Kuch, Shrink Rap Podcast
  • Noon – Lunch / Keynote Speaker
    • The Rage of AI, The Megatrends Shaping the Future of Intelligence and Business 
      • Radhika Dirks, XLabs & Ribo AI
  • 2 p.m. – Breakout Sessions
    • The Golden Age of Innovation: How AI and new apps are rapidly spawning startups. 
      • Mike Vetter, Wildfire Labs 
    • Is Building a Successful Tech Company Actually About the Technology? 
      • Karla Santi, Blend Interactive
  • 3 p.m. – Disrupting Industries: The Impact of Entrepreneurship  
    • Lance Tschetter, Lankota
    • Annie Donaway, Modern Day Health Care
    • Amos and Carly Kolb, Co-Studio Bismarck