Looking to spotlight local businesses making big waves in the world of technology, the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce is bringing back the city's annual tech showcase next week following a hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The event has been a staple in the city for six years running, showing off the deep pool of tech talent residing in Mountain View -- ranging from world-renowned companies to startups still under the radar and looking to make their big debut.
Taking center stage this year will be a trio of companies leading the charge toward commercially available autonomous vehicles. Mayor Ellen Kamei will be moderating a panel discussion with Waymo, Nuro and Aurora, each taking their own approach to self-driving car technology. Waymo has staked out efforts to create passenger vehicles with no one at the wheel, while Nuro is making strides to turn bite-sized cars into delivery robots.
Though a relatively new company, Aurora's eye-catching development includes self-driving commercial trucks that are projected to have a huge impact on the trucking industry in just a few short years.
It's easy to forget that many of the leading companies in the world of self-driving cars are right here in Mountain View, said Peter Katz, CEO and president of the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce. The panel will be a chance to highlight how much the technology has evolved over the last few years, he said, and how many regulatory hurdles the companies have cleared on the path toward commercial availability.
"There has been a lot of exciting development, but it's also one of those things where the average person may not know that Mountain View is one of the key centers for autonomous vehicle development," Katz said.
Other events on the packed two-day agenda include a presentation by NASA, a showcase of medical technology developed by Kaiser Permanente and a peek at Mountain View High School's highly competitive robotics team. The company LifeSite will dig into how it pivoted during the pandemic to provide COVID-19 testing kits to the people who need them, ranging from hotels to nursing homes, including self-administered tests.
Looking to emulate the in-person experience of the pre-COVID tech showcases, this year's events will be far more than a Zoom presentation with a bunch of talking heads. There will be interactive breakout sessions and demos, a comedy break and a fitness break, and a networking period in the evening for those looking to connect with other like-minded tech workers, said Leslie King, the chamber's marketing and events manager. There's also a new emphasis on helping people find a job, with a chance for job seekers to brush up on their resume and prepare for a technical interview.
"Watching so many people lose their jobs in the last 18 months, it was really something that we wanted to focus on," King said. "We have a live Q&A session with job search experts to get their burning questions answered."
Last year's tech showcase was scheduled just months after the COVID-19 pandemic began, and was canceled following countywide prohibitions on large gatherings.
The events begin on Tuesday, July 20, from 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., and continue on Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Registration is free. Anyone interested in attending can click here.