Collision is an annual global tech and innovation conference. Held in Toronto in 2023, it presented an unmatched opportunity for economic development staff to promote Durham Region for investment. Effective participation at Collision—competing for attention alongside global tech companies–required a significant investment. Achieving an effective Durham Region presence was only possible through collaboration.
The Durham Region Economic Development Partnership (DEDP) is made up of the Region’s Economic Development and Tourism division, as well as economic development staff from Durham’s eight local area municipalities. Together the DEDP determined to go ahead with the 2023 event. We approached our post-secondary institutions (Durham College, Ontario Tech University, and Trent University Durham GTA), innovation hubs (Spark Centre and 1855 Tech Accelerator) and all agreed to collaborate. We then identified and secured additional key partners: Ontario Power Generation (OPG), and the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association – Project Arrow (APMA-Project Arrow).
With the core collaborative group formed, we planned our engaging presence. Further collaborators were brought into the group, which included: Ontario Centre of Innovation (OCI) and Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN), Access IO, Brilliant Catalyst at Ontario Tech University, and the Durham Regional Technology Development Site (Durham RTDS).
With many partners working together there were, at times, opposing viewpoints on how to communicate our messages. However, through bi-weekly meetings, we ensured alignment on marketing messages, visual presentation, and goal setting, as well as providing cross training on value propositions for each of the partner groups. We also undertook collaborative networking to ensure Durham Region was represented in the most effective way at Collision. We leveraged a shared value proposition for investment, and cultivated an understanding that being bold was essential. This meant we were able to successfully collaborate with a shared vision.
The activation, held under the Invest Durham brand, but featuring logos for all partners included: Project Arrow, the first All-Canadian electric concept vehicle, provided by APMA and Ontario Tech University; a slot car racing track and display provided by OPG, an interactive mixed reality demonstration from Durham College’s Mixed Reality Capture Studio; proximity map of Durham featuring innovation assets and innovative companies; giveaways including apples sourced from Algoma Orchards and notebooks featuring logos for all partners; Table-tops branded for collaborators Access IO, Brilliant Catalyst, Durham RTDS, and OVIN; and copies of the Spark Magazine, produced by Spark Centre. Staff working the booth wore ‘team jackets’ branded with Invest Durham on the reverse, and their own organization on the front.
The project included the event as well as a marketing campaign. Together we achieved 312,000 paid and organic digital impressions, 1300+ event connections, and 7 earned media placements. Outcomes to date include 2 familiarization investor tours, over two dozen leads considered active opportunities, 1 lead advanced to site selection and 1 considered closed (won). Many further partnership opportunities and leads are being received and assessed by the group.
A post-event partner survey indicated 100% of partners felt the Durham at Collision presence Effectively or Very Effectively represented Durham Region as a whole.