Startupfest, Communitech’s True North latest COVID-19-related event cancellations

True North is the latest Canadian tech event to be cancelled amid concerns of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.

In a public statement on Tuesday, Communitech announced the cancellation, citing the ongoing outbreak. The Kitchener-Waterloo-based organization noted that it worked will health authorirites to determine “the best way forward” for its biggest event of the year.

“It is out of an abundance of caution … that we concluded that cancelling this year’s event is the right thing to do.”

“The health and safety of our visitors, members, staff, and the broader Waterloo Region community is of the utmost importance to not only Communitech but to our festival partners,” said Iain Klugman, CEO and president at Communitech. “It is out of an abundance of caution, and with much disappointment, that we concluded that cancelling this year’s event is the right thing to do.”

True North was set to take place from June 1 to 7 in Kitchener-Waterloo. Communitech had already announced the event schedule and speakers. The event, which was set to enter its third year, drew in thousands from the tech community. Communitech had recently announced a rebrand for the event, calling it True North Festival, and had expanded offerings, which included a number of conversational summits, keynote speeches, social events, and a $1 million Leaders Prize.

Communitech’s decision comes as a number of other Canadian tech events have been cancelled due to concerns over COVID-19. Most recently, Collision, the major North American tech conference set to take place in Toronto, cancelled all in-person events for 2020. The virus outbreak has also seen countries across the globe establish safety measures, with global organizations implementing policies as well.

Some events have decided to continue on though, including the 2020 Juno Awards and in the Canadian tech space, LGBTQA+ tech conference Venture Out announced today plans to still host its event later this month.

Shortly after Communitech made its announcement, Startupfest, the annual Montreal-based tech festival, released its own public statement. Startupfest explained that it is not currently expecting to run “a large scale” event in July, though noting that the event would still happen in “some form.”

BetaKit has now confirmed with a spokesperson for Startupfest that the 2020 event has been cancelled. Despite that spokesperson telling BetaKit Startupfest has indeed been cancelled, the organization’s statement reads, “while it would be far simpler to just postpone Startupfest, we have an obligation to help startups and founders survive the coming economic downturn.”

The spokesperson noted that Startupfest hopes to still host versions of certain events and prize competitions and will be running events and activations that will be formalized in the next few days. The main, in-person version of Startupfest – set to be held in Montreal – has been cancelled, though.

In its public statement, Startupfest said it is considering virtual or regional options for the event – a similar trend seen among other conferences that have been cancelled, including Collision and Shopify’s Unite.

Image courtesy Communitech

Meagan Simpson

Meagan Simpson

Meagan is the Senior Editor for BetaKit. A tech writer that is super proud to showcase the Canadian tech scene. Background in almost every type of journalism from sports to politics. Podcast and Harry Potter nerd, photographer and crazy cat lady.

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