Collision has officially announced that Toronto will host its tech event in 2024.
The announcement follows an early June report from BetaKit that the major North American tech conference was close to inking a one-year Toronto extension at an amount and terms similar to its previous $6.5 million CAD annual deal. The financial terms of Collision’s latest agreement were not disclosed.
Collision 2023, which kicks off next week, is the last year of a three-year deal initially inked in 2018 and extended by two years after the pandemic forced Collision to host its 2020 and 2021 conferences online.
“We are grateful for the support from Destination Toronto, the City of Toronto and the Government of Ontario.”
– Paddy Cosgrave,
BetaKit exclusively reported in May that the tech event was initially seeking a new three-year deal to remain in Toronto on similar terms as what Collision’s parent company Web Summit receives from the Portuguese government to host its events in Lisbon, worth 11 million euros per year ($16 million CAD). Such a deal would have put the total financial and in-kind contributions to retain Collision at north of $40 million CAD, more than double the current annual amount.
But as BetaKit noted at the time, the increased ask and resulting financial pressure on municipal, provincial, and federal governments, combined with Toronto’s budget crisis and the departure of former mayor and Collision advocate John Tory, had put the conference’s future in Canada beyond 2023 in doubt.
That report spurred a national conversation about the appetite for and impact of Collision remaining in Canada. Writing in the Globe and Mail, Startupfest founder Philippe Telio argued against a renewed commitment, noting that Canadian governments were effectively “pay[ing] foreign companies to compete against” locally grown tech events. In one of his few public statements since stepping down as Toronto’s mayor, John Tory told BetaKit, “It is important the other governments (federal and provincial) recognize that Collision is important and step up in a meaningful way.”
At the same time, multiple Vancouver organizations with ties to local innovation advocacy group Frontier Collective began publicly and privately exploring the idea of luring Collision to the city.
In response to a question posed by BetaKit during Vancouver Startup Week as to whether or not he was participating in a local pitch, Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim said: “I think the primary goal here is let’s make sure we keep Collision in Canada. And whatever it takes to keep it in Canada, we’ll be supportive.”
Data shared with BetaKit by Destination Toronto, the non-profit regional tourism promotion organization responsible for the Collision bid, claims that the tech conference fuelled a combined $70 million in direct spending from attendees and $111 million in economic impact in 2019 and 2022. This year, the organization projects that Collision’s impact will grow to reach 40,000 attendees, generating $49 million in direct spending and $77 million in economic impact—for a total of $119 million in direct spending and $188 million in economic impact over three years.
“We are grateful for the support from Destination Toronto, the City of Toronto and the Government of Ontario as we aim to make Collision even more globally impactful and to shine a spotlight on the remarkable Canadian and Toronto tech ecosystem on our global stage,” said Collision and Web Summit co-founder and CEO, Paddy Cosgrave, in a statement.
Destination Toronto declined to disclose the financial terms of its latest agreement with Collision to BetaKit, instead providing the following email statement from Destination Toronto president and CEO Scott Beck.
“Collision’s decision to extend their event in Toronto, beyond the original three-year commitment, is validation of the deep collaboration among Toronto’s tech community, our meetings and events industry, and all levels of government; and of the positive role we have collectively played in helping to grow the Collision event to a globally recognized powerhouse event for the Tech industry,” said Beck.
A spokesperson for the City of Toronto told BetaKit over email that “details of the package of supports available to Collision for the 2024 conference in Toronto will be finalized in advance of the event by Destination Toronto, the City of Toronto, Exhibition Place and possibly other government partners.” The spokesperson also told BetaKit that to date, “the Government of Ontario has not provided the City of Toronto with any direct funding to offset cost[s] in support of Destination Toronto’s Collision Conference-related hosting commitments.”
When reached by BetaKit, the Province of Ontario did not disclose whether it had provided any funding to Collision or details of the latest agreement.
“We are pleased to see that Collision has recently announced that they are electing to extend their time in Toronto until 2024,” said Vic Fedeli, Ontario’s minister of economic development, job creation, and trade, in an email statement.
For his part, Tory told BetaKit via email, “I am delighted Collision will be here for both 2023 and now 2024 and I hope constructive discussions between all of our governments and the Collision team will take us well beyond next year.”
Beyond 2024, however, Collision’s long-term future in Toronto remains uncertain—and perhaps unlikely. A Collision spokesperson previously confirmed in May to BetaKit that five other cities, in addition to Toronto, were bidding for the tech event. One source familiar with the ongoing bid process told BetaKit that Vancouver had recently put forward a “promising” proposal with “cash on the table.”
That source also noted that an announcement of a one-year extension was a sign that the Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada had not “stepped up” as many advocates had hoped, speculating that Collision’s prospects in Toronto after next year for a long-term commitment were slim.
Regarding the Vancouver campaign for Collision, Destination Vancouver told BetaKit over email that the organization is not part of any ongoing Collision discussions, pointing BetaKit to Frontier Collective and the Mayor of Vancouver’s office. BetaKit has since reached out to Frontier Collective and the Mayor’s office for comment.
UPDATE (06/21/23): This story has been updated to include comments and note responses from Destination Toronto, the City of Toronto, former Toronto Mayor John Tory, the Province of Ontario, and Destination Vancouver.
Feature image courtesy Vaughn Ridley/Collision via Sportsfile.