Tech leaders, innovative businesses to appear during Cucalorus Connect is your source for free news and information in the Wilmington area.

Cucalorus Film Festival organizers have announced the schedule of speakers and special events for the upcoming Cucalorus Connect business conference. Courtesy image.
Cucalorus Film Festival organizers have announced the schedule of speakers and special events for the upcoming Cucalorus Connect business conference. Courtesy image.

A MapQuest founder and an eHarmony tech guru are among the speakers lined up for the first Cucalorus Connect Conference.

The conference, set to run concurrent with the 21st annual Cucalorus Film Festival from Nov. 11-15, is a first-of-its-kind emerging business conference and showcase for the Wilmington area.

Cucalorus has teamed up with local game-changers–CloudWyze, tekMountain and UNC-Wilmington’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE), among them–and city officials, for the weeklong event.

A bit like the longstanding South by Southwest in Austin, Texas–and a lot like CIE’s inaugural Coastal Connect Entrepreneur and Capital Conference, which was held last year–the conference is aimed at bringing together entrepreneurs and leaders in a variety of fields to network and share ideas among themselves and with the public.

Last week, organizers announced the schedule of more than 50 sessions and special events–ranging from keynotes with national followings to panels that explore evolving technologies and economic trends–happening in conjunction with the film festival.

Key conference presenters include Galen Buckwalter, the founding chief science officer at eHarmony and creator of the technology behind the relationship software company. Chris Heivly, a founder of MapQuest and now a managing director of The Startup Factory in Durham, will be on hand, as well as the co-founders of Untappd, the hip social media platform for craft beer junkies.

Other guests include: Dan Tynan, editor in chief for Yahoo Tech; Joan Siefert Rose, president of the Council for Entrepreneurial Development; and lead principals from the crowdfunding sites Kickstarter and Seed&Spark.

Connect will kick off with a daily coffee hour at Thalian Hall’s ballroom Nov. 11- 13, followed by keynotes and panel discussions on Thalian’s main stage. Each morning’s session will also feature several rocket pitches, called the Port City Pitch, providing new companies a stage to present their ideas and start-up aspirations.

Following a lunch break, Connect events resume with panels and workshops at Ironclad Brewery, 115 N. Second St., and Bourgie Nights, 127 Princess St. Daily schedules end with social events, cocktail gatherings and workshops. Panel programs continue through the weekend at both Ironclad and Bourgie Nights.

Cucalorus will also explore the future of entertainment with its first-ever Virtual Reality Lounge to share the newest works in the emerging field.

On Saturday, Nov. 14, Princess Street will be closed between Front and Second streets for a PlaceMakers Fair to showcase regional makers and their inventions with exhibits, demonstrations, entertainment, food and a tall bike jousting showdown. The family friendly events will open up after the Kidsalorus screening of the heralded animated film, “Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet,” an official selection at Cannes, produced by and starring the voice work of Salma Hayek and Liam Neeson.

This year’s Cucalorus includes more than 260 films chosen from approximately 1,700 entries. Click here for a full schedule of films, events and festival passes.