For three consecutive years beginning in 2019, Toronto hosts Web Summit’s Collision conference, North America’s fastest-growing and most important technology marketplace and a meeting point for tech innovators, influential investors, startups and the world’s largest buyers and sellers of technology.
WHY COLLISION MOVED TO TORONTO After three years in New Orleans, Web Summit moved its marquee conference to Toronto. Here are two key reasons why:
VISAS: Canada’s Start-up Visa Program and the Global Talent Stream, a new fast-track immigration process designed to build a highly skilled, diverse workforce.
BRAIN GAIN: As Toronto continues to generate more tech jobs than tech graduates, the current “brain gain” environment is expected to continue.
Collision 2019 in Toronto was seven times larger than the previous year and hosted twice as many speakers, startups and investors. More than 100 trade missions took place in Toronto to connect Canadian companies with international businesses
How does Collision differ from typical conference formats? We're not your normal nine-to-five conference—we're driven by networking and bringing people and ideas together. My background is in entertainment—20 years in Hollywood—so I work very hard with [Web Summit CEO and co-founder] Paddy Cosgrave on the experience that people will have. When speakers walk onto our stages to greet the audience, the sound and the A/V make it feel like a music festival-level experience. On the show floor, we have startups, investors and a very high C-suite presence, so we provide seated areas for these people to connect organically.
How do you use data to improve the attendee experience? We use wristbands for security and access control, and over the past year, we've worked with scanning solutions to track the lounges and spaces that the different ticket types migrate to. This allows us to build more of a bespoke experience for the people who attend each of these spaces.
How can attendees make the most of their Collision experience? Time passes very fast and you can sometimes be overwhelmed. Use the calendar in the conference app to make a plan for yourself and to identify the speakers and startups you'd like to see. The app will flag you to some of the tracks and backgrounders that may interest you. When you use your smartphone to scan the QR code on your lanyard, the app tries to match you with other people at the conference based on how you've defined your interests and background.
Why is Toronto the ideal city to host a conference like Collision? The fact that Toronto is the most diverse city in North America and the third-largest tech hub is a huge draw to us. I can't express how important it is that we're able to attract quality startups so that we can grow the event. If we can't attract startups to the conference, then the investors, the speakers and the general attendee won't come. It's a very organic process and Toronto's talent pool of engineers and entrepreneurs really stands out to us.
Go here to get tickets or see the full schedule for Collision.
(This article will appear in the 2019 Business Events Planners Guide available in early June)