Technological advancement isn’t just about making fancier gadgets.

There are serious problems facing Maine and the world that technology and innovation can help solve. That’s the theme of this year’s Maine Startup and Create Week, the biggest annual conference in Maine for entrepreneurs and innovators, which begins Monday.

The five-day conference, now in its fourth year, will cover topics such as Maine’s aging population, gaps in workforce development and the opioid crisis. For each topic, participants will explore how technology and innovation can help.

“This is a place where innovators, entrepreneurs, technologists and scientists are coming together to talk about how their work can solve real problems,” event organizer Jess Knox said.

Maine Startup and Create Week is an all-volunteer event that takes months to organize and about 15,000 volunteer hours to execute, said Knox, a Waterville native who co-founded the event. Knox also is the statewide coordinator for Maine Accelerates Growth and president of the business consulting firm Olympico Strategies.

“It’s almost a full-year process putting it together,” he said.

Susan Hodder of Comprend Consulting talks with Benjamin Brown of The Maine Composites Alliance at a “mixpo” at Maine College of Art as a part of Maine Startup and Create Week last year. Staff photo by Derek Davis

As in previous years, the event is spread out over Monday through Friday with a variety of panel discussions, workshops and networking opportunities each day.

Each day also features a different lunchtime keynote speaker. This year’s speakers include Angela Lee, founder of 37 Angels and assistant dean and chief innovation officer at Columbia Business School; CodeFever founder Felecia Hatcher, an award-winning entrepreneur and best-selling author; Gaia Dempsey, an entrepreneur in the field of augmented reality; John Lee Dumas, host of the entrepreneurism podcast EOFire; and Tom Davidson, a former Maine legislator who is co-founder and CEO of EverFi Inc.

Each year, the conference coincides with the Maine Technology Institute’s MTI TechWalk event, which showcases a portfolio of some of the most successful Maine companies that have received assistance from MTI.

This year’s TechWalk is scheduled for 4:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Westin Portland Harborview Hotel, at 157 High St. in Portland. The TechWalk event is free and will feature exhibits by more than 45 companies.

One change to the conference this year is the introduction of “Real Day,” a day that focuses on more active and collaborative learning experiences that don’t involve sitting in a chair all day. Thursday is Real Day.

The bulk of Maine Startup and Create Week’s core sessions will be held at the Maine College of Art, at 522 Congress St. in Portland. Tickets for the event are $149 for a single day or $569 for the full five days.

Knox said about 1,700 people attended the event in 2016.

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: jcraiganderson