Startup Tucson’s fourth-annual TENWEST Festival begins Friday, Oct. 12, and runs through Oct. 21.

More than 5,000 people are expected to participate in the 10-day festival that will offer more than 100 events and activities spanning the arts, culture, entrepreneurship and the critical role technology and science must play in building a healthy future for Tucson, according to Startup officials.

The mission is to promote, foster and celebrate a culture of innovation in Tucson. A major theme this year is sustainability.

“We live in the desert, so if we don’t figure out sustainability, then who is?” Startup Tucson CEO Liz Pocock said.

Events will be held in and around the downtown area and include: workshops at the Tucson Museum of Art focused on sustainability, a TEDxTucson event exploring food, puppy yoga at the Playground Bar and Lounge to raise money for animals in need, Downtown Film Fest screenings, a race around “A” Mountain with Tugo Bike Share bicycles, a chance to pitch and launch business ideas and more.

There are some full-day events at the Tucson Convention Center, such as the STEM Connect Conference on Oct. 15 to improve STEM skills across the community and Sonoran Cloud Day on Oct. 17, which will explore how technology can shape sustainability in the Sonoran Desert.

Also, the daylong YWCA Women’s Leadership Conference will take place at the JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort and Spa.

View the entire schedule at tenwest.com/2018-schedule

TENWEST began as a networking opportunity for Southern Arizona entrepreneurs. Startup Tucson has used networking mixers in the past to connect those in the business community, but they found that they “get a lot of momentum in one event,” Pocock said. In just four years, it has morphed into a community-wide festival.

Weekend content was first introduced just last year. This year, tickets were expanded to include student pricing and content was added that could be enjoyed by an entire family.

TENWEST partnered with businesses to create accessible content. Partners and sponsors include the University of Arizona and the Arizona Commerce Authority along with dozens of other local and national organizations. These partnerships allowed the festival to expand beyond the original base and into the larger population, according to Pocock.

“There is stuff we don’t know about in our city,” she said.

“We see TENWEST as a platform to make things on (the UA) campus and within the business world more accessible and engaging for the Tucson community.”

Contact reporter Mikayla Mace at mmace@tucson.com or 573-4158. Follow on Facebook and Twitter.