Collision Conference 2019: Notes from the Floor


Collision took over Toronto’s Enercare Center last week, with high-profile celebrity panels and coverage of emerging tech innovations.

The fifth edition of the Collision technology conference made its Toronto debut last week. The three day event, which is dubbed the largest tech conference in North America, covered all the areas that tech touches and beyond — from healthcare to public transportation.

The conference was action packed with approximately 25,711 attendees, companies, speakers and experts converging at the massive Enercare Center near downtown Toronto. Opening night (May 20) of the technology extravaganza featured a conversation with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who stressed Canada’s commitment to innovation, particularly in the tech sector.

“Access to talent is going to be at the core of success for businesses, for economies, for entire countries. And that’s why Canada, even though we’ve been a country that has always had great natural resources, and we will continue to, we’ve always layered on to them innovation and talent on top of it,” he said.

“But that’s really come to a head recently, as we’ve determined that the Canadian advantage is in providing extraordinarily well-educated, hard-working, forward-thinking, creative, ambitious Canadians to be part of the global economy.”

Actor Seth Rogen was on hand during the first night to discuss the inception of his cannabis company Houseplant. He also discussed the role Hollywood plays in destigmatizing marijuana with his friend and co-founder Evan Goldberg.

“Pineapple Express was the moment where we realized how many people love cannabis and enjoy it and and it makes a difference in their lives, and they feel like it’s a normal part of their lives,” said Goldberg. “It was the first film that was a giant financial win for a studio that was about cannabis.”

During the discussion, Rogen confirmed he will be meeting with the Ontario Cannabis Store about bringing Houseplant to legal shops in Toronto.

Local Torontonians Jessie Reyez and Mayor John Tory also participated in fireside chats about the city’s role in shaping and pushing the technology sector in Canada forward. Collision has decided to partner with the City of Toronto to host the conference until 2021.

On the official first day of the conference, the event floor was buzzing with live demos, interactive monitors and screens and even a few robots.

After a brief morning address from Collision Founder Paddy Cosgrove, the day’s panels, stage presentations and keynote addresses kicked off. Leading the way was actor and entrepreneur Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who spoke about his open online community HITRECORD, which is designed for creative and worldwide collaboration. Levitt explained how the idea and concept for HITRECORD came from a rough patch in his life after he finished college and wanted to go back to his passion.

“And then when I went to get back into acting a couple years later, I couldn’t get a job. No one would cast me in anything, and that was really, really painful, because when you’re an actor, you need someone to cast you in order to do the acting,” he said.

Out on the event floor, tech companies from around the world met with potential investors and curious attendees to explain their innovations.

Companies merging tech with health were also front and center for all three days of the event. One Health Company took the main stage early Tuesday (May 21), offering attendees a glimpse into its work on personalized medicine for dogs with an emphasis on curing and caring for canines with cancer.

David Eun, chief information officer and president of Samsung (KRX:005930) NEXT, gave a variety of talks on day one regarding Samsung’s push towards artificial intelligence (AI). Click here to read more about what he said.

Other highlights from the first conference day were: a presentation by singer and entrepreneur Akon about his cryptocurrency Akoin; a press conference and Q&A with producer Timbaland regarding his partnership with Masterclass; and a panel discussion with Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna, who stressed the importance tech will play in helping the environment.

The second day of the conference started with a chat from Dan Doctoroff of Sidewalk Labs on smart cities and the way they are developed and grown. It was followed by several presentations on the future of the automotive sector as it transitions to electric and autonomous vehicles.

Over at the Binate stage, McAfee CEO Chris Young spoke to the audience about where he believes cloud technology is going in the future.

In the afternoon, Dominic Mallinson, senior vice president of R&D at Sony (NYSE:SNE,TSE:6758), spoke about the proliferation and refinement of virtual reality (VR) technologies. He also introduced the PlayStation’s three newest VR games, which will be released over the coming years.

Attendees looking for tech investment tips were not disappointed by a panel discussion featuring Trae Vassallo of, Jeff Clavier from Uncork Capital, Anu Duggal of Female Founders Fund and Adam Valkin of General Catalyst.

Each panelist was asked which area of tech is overhyped and which is undervalued. While two panelists said the crypto and scooters are overhyped, Valkin went so far as to say that a lot of the tech sector is overhyped; however, he did point to insurance-focused tech as being seriously undervalued.

On an adjacent stage in the conference center, Shopify (TSX:SHOP) CEO Tobias Lütke addressed the crowd about the need for tech to empower people who may not have coding or technology experience.

The final day of the show, which took place on Thursday (May 23), had a renewed emphasis on health, with a number of medical cannabis speakers and presentations. The finalists for the pitch competition were announced early in the day.

Hello Alfred CEO Marcela Sapone talked about the need for technology to solve everyday problems and offer services that everyday people need.

The fifth annual Collision conference came to a close shortly after the winner of the pitch challenge was announced. LOLIWARE won the bragging rights.

Over the course of the three day conference, the Investing News Network conducted several interviews with tech companies and well-known sector participants, so be sure to check back to read all of our exclusive interviews and content from the 2019 Collision conference.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_LifeScience for real-time news updates

Securities Disclosure: I, Georgia Williams, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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