Each Fall, businesses leaders from all over Vancouver Island converge on Nanaimo for a three day event that’s been described as both the networking event of the year and the best opportunity for sharing ideas, meeting new partners and forming new collaborations.
The VIEA Economic Summit was preparing for its 14th annual event when the pandemic hit, forcing it, as it has many businesses, to create a new model of engagement. The result is its first fully digital Summit, running October 27 – 29 and featuring a diverse mix of speakers and panels as well as a new way to network.
Keynote speakers this year include tech humanist Kate O’Neill and UBC Sauder School of Business lecturer Justin G. Bull. Panel sessions cover timely issues, business opportunities and trends ranging from Indigenomics and reconciliation, the future of post-secondary education, tourism’s recovery, business going digital, sustainable economics, and seaweed aquaculture.
Event organizer the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance (VIEA), will also release the 5th annual ‘State of the Island’ Economic Report in partnership with MNP during the Summit.
Registrants can purchase either a full-access all-event pass, or a mini-pass for access to three sessions.
Douglas spoke to VIEA President George Hanson about the event’s evolution this year.
Obviously, the pandemic forced the pivot. What can participants expect in 2020?
The same grassroots content focused on tracking trends, problem-solving and opportunity pursuit will be available to everyone at greatly reduced rates on a robust digital platform. Creating lots of space between scheduled presentations will give people the option of networking on the Summit platform or focusing on business matters before the next session.
What’s the opportunity here with an online-only format?
Participants can set their own schedules for one-on-one meetings, sessions can be attended live or recordings can be watched at participant convenience, deeper conversations are available with presenters, and with no geographic boundaries people anywhere in the world can participate. At the in-person Summit, people must choose between sessions. On the digital platform people can attend one session and watch the recording of the other at another time.
Do you think you’ll attract a wider audience?
With convenience, reduced cost, and compelling content, we expect to significantly exceed the usual 600 plus attendees. Many who have not attended previously may find our three-pack option attractive. As well, many of our topics will resonate with people beyond Vancouver Island who have similar interests, issues and opportunities. Our speakers are world class.
Have you had any feedback so far from the business community on the new format?
Those who know the quality of the Economic Summit are excited to experience this digital version. We all know that the in-person experience cannot be replaced. And, this digital Summit offers much more than your standard Zoom call. We’ll be opening the site to registrants in advance of the Summit so that people can familiarize themselves with the new environment and start making appointments.
What are you most excited about or most eagerly anticipating within the event this year?
In addition to the Q&A attached to each session, we’ve scheduled opportunities for those attending to participate in follow up roundtable discussions with presenters to encourage problem solving and opportunity pursuit. Exhibitors also have opportunity to schedule meetings, host chats, show video demonstrations.
How can people network through this event since the usual face to face isn’t possible?
Every delegate will have access to the comprehensive list of attendees and opportunity to invite people to meet. Exhibitors can invite individual or group meetings and marketplace roundtables are designed to encourage and facilitate engagement. Also, the program has been purposefully spread over three days instead of two so that there is lots of space between presentations.
For details on the event visit www.viea.ca.