Uniting the Prairies postpones conference due to COVID-19 outbreak

Jordan Dutchak - First UP

Uniting the Prairies, a tech conference that aims to bring together and elevate tech communities in Canada’s Prairies region, has announced it is postponing its 2020 conference due to recent developments with the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

“The safety of our delegates and speakers at this point is paramount.”

The conference was scheduled to be held May 7 at the Delta Bessborough Hotel in Saskatoon. Jordan Dutchak, founder of the conference and executive director of Co.Labs, said the organizers will monitor the situation over the coming months, and will be working to host the 2020 conference later this year.

Dutchak told BetaKit the conference is refunding the cost of tickets to attendees and will be holding onto sponsorship dollars until July, in the event that the conference is successfully rescheduled for the summer or fall. In the event that UP is not hosted this year, Dutchak said 100 percent of funds will be returned to sponsors. The conference will also cancel all flights and accommodations for speakers on their behalf and plans to coordinate to determine availability for the potential future conference.

“We held out as long as we could,” Dutchak said in an emailed statement. “In light of the developing COVID-19 pandemic, Uniting the Prairies is officially postponed. The safety of our delegates and speakers at this point is paramount.”

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Uniting the Prairies is the latest of many tech conferences to either cancel or postpone their events in order to curb the spread of COVID-19. Over the last month, large Canadian conferences like Collision, Shopify Unite, True North and Startupfest have either scaled down, postponed, or cancelled the in-person portions of their events this year due to concerns over the outbreak.

The conference typically hosts fireside chats, breakout sessions, and networking opportunities, and aims to showcase the progress and achievements of Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan’s tech ecosystems. The first edition of the conference was held in 2019.

The region is home to a number of breakout tech startups, including SkipTheDishes, Jobber, Bold Commerce, and 7shifts, that have all achieved their own milestones since last year’s conference. 7shifts raised an additional $7.9 million in October, bringing its Series A to more than $20 million. In December, Bold Commerce expanded its business operations to Austin, Texas. Jobber also announced new growth milestones last year and added two new faces to its executive team.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Writer, globetrotter, drone pilot & David Attenborough enthusiast