In 2018, Collision Conference – North America’s fastest growing tech conference (25,000 attendees) – announced it was moving from New Orleans to Toronto for 3 years (2019-2021). York Region Economic Strategy immediately saw the potential of this event to promote our tech sector – Canada’s second largest with over 4,300 ICT companies – to tech executives and professional tech talent. We quickly agreed to a 10×10-metre pavilion and secured a prime location. This became the #YRtech Experience Pavilion and attracted thousands of conference attendees each day over the three-day event.
Our objective was to build increased awareness around York Region’s status as a major Canadian tech hub, showcase technology developed in the region and the companies behind that tech. The pavilion was designed to attract attendees into the space with technology they could interact with such as robotic vision solutions, smart building systems, smartwatches, connected car software, the Atari Pong® coffee table, and more.
A primary challenge was developing a pavilion that would stand out at Collision and drive significant on-site, online, and mainstream media awareness for York Region as a major tech hub. A secondary challenge was collaboratively bringing together thirteen tech companies, four innovation partners, and three local municipalities into the #YRtech Experience Pavilion. This created a complex challenge involving the recruitment of partners, coordination of logistical requirements, and constant communication around pavilion activities.
Our robust social media strategy – leveraging ‘#CollisionConf’ and ‘#YRtech’ – promoted the pavilion and amplified key messages during Collision. The digital campaign generated 5-million impressions, 6,000 engagements, and over 78,000 video views, but most importantly the campaign had a reach of over 750,000 individuals. York Link’s social media efforts received a “Best-in-Class” mention from Jennifer Urbanski, Senior Government Lead at LinkedIn to her contacts in economic development across Canada.
Technology from York Region companies caught the attention of media including CBC, Global News National, Breakfast Television, CP24, and the Financial Post, to name a few. The coverage was tremendous exposure for these companies and indirectly promoted the #YRtech Experience Pavilion and York Region’s technology ecosystem.
The #YRtech Experience Pavilion was a “one-window” experience for attendees to learn about and engage with York Region’s tech community. This included a dedicated media area with tech expert Marc Saltzman (CNN, CNBC, USA Today) conducting a series of one-on-one interviews with York Region tech leaders. Representatives from many well-known corporations such as Amazon Web Services, Bell, Scotiabank, GM Canada, AMD, Siemens, Interac, Microsoft, and Deloitte also came into the space to get hands-on with tech developed in York Region.
Federal Ministers – the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion – also took notice; stopping by to speak with some of the York Region-based tech companies. It was a great opportunity for the companies to connect with leading government officials that support innovation and trade in Canada.
With twenty partners and community stakeholders participating in the #YRtech Experience Pavilion at Collision, it was the largest single promotional activity York Region Economic Strategy has ever done. Please find additional details and results in the supplemental PDF.