Tech Business Events Thrive in Waterloo Region
Photo: The dynamic innovative interior of Tapestry Hall
When delegations from over 140 countries land in Canada mid-June to attend the Collision tech conference, many will take the opportunity to explore Waterloo Region, a global leader in artificial intelligence, advanced manufacturing, automation, robotics, autotech, fintech and sustainability.
“Collision is the lynchpin to bring people to Canada. We hone in and make sure the right people are meeting the right people,” explains Keith Wallace, general manager for Collision 2022, the global tech industry’s preeminent annual gathering. The event’s 33,000+ attendees will be looking for opportunities—both inside and outside the conference taking place June 20–23 in Toronto—to meet entrepreneurs, create new partnerships and invest in startups.
TECH’S BRIGHTEST MINDS
They’ll find plenty of opportunities in Waterloo Region, a burgeoning community about an hour’s drive west of Toronto Pearson International Airport, and part of the dynamic Toronto–Waterloo Region Corridor, home to 15,000 tech companies, 5,200 startups and 200,000 skilled tech workers.
Waterloo Region itself—encompassing the cities of Waterloo, Kitchener and Cambridge—boasts a unique ecosystem where tech entrepreneurs flourish thanks to supportive services provided by organizations like Communitech. You’ll also find multinational corporations here, such as Toyota, Google and SAP, as well as notable scale-ups like Faire and ApplyBoard. The region attracts the brightest minds, with the University of Waterloo ranking among the world’s top engineering, technology and science universities.
Photo: Waterloo Region’s Catalyst Building, a hub for tech innovation.
A MEETING PLACE FOR BUSINESS LEADERS
Waterloo’s excellence in advanced technologies is among the reasons Destination Canada Business Events will bring Innovate Canada—an invitation-only gathering of international C-suite tech executives—to the region May 8–12, 2023.
And leadership in sustainability was a key reason the Canadian Society of Professional Event Planners (CanSPEP) chose to hold its annual conference in Waterloo in October 2021, says event manager Bettyanne Sherrer, CMP, CMM, DES, vice-president and managing partner, CanPlan Events & Conference Services Inc.
“When we looked at the experience we could design within the region, many boxes were checked,” Sherrer says. “But I think the biggest impact on our program was related to sustainability.”
Explore Waterloo Region’s business events team helped Sherrer find ways to lower the event’s carbon footprint, including locally-sourced food choices, working with the host venue (the historic Walper Hotel), to reduce food waste, encouraging attendees to carpool, and serving grab-and-go meals in reusable, eco-friendly containers provided by Ekko, a local startup.
Photo: The historic Walper Hotel
A UNIQUE URBAN-RURAL CULTURE
During the three-day conference, planners visited state-of-the-art venues including Bingemans Conference Centre, Delta Waterloo and Langdon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa. The opening reception was hosted at Tapestry Hall, a reimagined 19th century industrial space. “The venue has an incredible stage, built-in production, LED screens, a massive bar, VIP lounges on the second floor and a great outdoor space,” says Sherrer.
Delegates also had the chance to experience Waterloo’s unique urban–rural culture by visiting the renowned St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market where hundreds of vendors, including members of the community’s Old Order Mennonites, sell fresh produce, meats, baked goods, handcrafted items and other goodies.
“Explore Waterloo was a true partner. They were involved from the very beginning and, as experts for the area, offered so much advice,” says Sherrer. “We would think of one idea and they would put three more on the table that just made it better.
Learn more about hosting your event in Waterloo Region
Jennifer Eddings, Director of Sales, Explore Waterloo Region