CEO of Inspired Minds Sarah Porter explains the ingredients that make their World Summit memorable in Montréal, Canada.
News, trends and industry insights are the keystones of successful business events, but according to a 2019 WARC study, to deliver the “wow factor” that creates positive feelings that stay with attendees long after everyone goes home, meeting planners need to engage association members’ emotions as much as their minds.
Inspired Minds, a UK-based global tech and science strategy group devoted to making Artificial Intelligence available to all economic groups, countries and cultures, understands this and is taking action. Their cornerstone event, World Summit AI Americas 2020, was hosted in Montréal, Canada, where 11,000 students and more than 300 researchers and doctoral students involved in AI-related fields represent the world’s largest concentration of academic research in deep learning. The conference promised that attendees will take part in “difficult conversations that others are afraid to have” and experience hands-on interaction with mind-boggling technology and workshops.
Sarah Porter, founder and CEO of Inspired Minds, explains the ingredients that make a business event memorable, from the speaker lineup to the discussion topics to an inspiring setting like Montréal, Canada.
(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
What is the mission of Inspired Minds?
Inspired Minds is focused on how emerging technology, in particular Artificial Intelligence, can be used to solve some of humanity’s greatest problems. We have built a community of over 54,000 members around the world, who come from enterprise, big tech, startups and corporations.
What is the goal of your summit in Montréal?
We believe that it is important that the power of AI and emerging technology is developed and adopted in ways that are equitable and inclusive, and all our summits are designed to align the community behind these goals of AI for the greater good. Following the success of our global World Summit AI, and the accompanying World AI Week, World Summit AI Americas is about bringing this movement to North America. Montréal is a key player in the emerging AI scene and a logical launching pad for our regional ambitions. We held our first event in Montréal in 2019, drawing approximately 800 delegates. In 2020, we’re expecting upwards of 2,000.
What made you want to return to Montréal after being there last year?
The city really embraced the summit last year, and the continued trajectory of Montréal as part of the AI triangle of Pittsburgh, Boston and Montréal meant that returning to build on the relationships and connections began in 2019 was a clear choice.
Montréal is a lovely blend of historic and modern, and the mix of cultures that meet in Montréal means there are some fantastic restaurants whether you are looking for fine dining, or the satisfying comfort of poutine! There are also some wonderful museums such as the Montréal Science Centre and Museum of Fine Arts.
Research has shown that emotional connections drive audience engagement and brand affinity. What are the emotional aspects of how you’re connecting with attendees to give them a lasting impression after the event is over?
The feedback we have from attendees is that the connections made across disciplines are unique, and that level of deep connection in pursuit of making a genuine impact on humanity’s problems is a powerful emotional driver. It drives our team, too, to continually improve both our content and our audience’s experiences.
What are some of the initiatives you’re spearheading to make this event special?
We’ve got some incredible content at the summit, from panels tackling the key issues around governing AI and what it might take humans to trust AI, to headline talks on scaling startups past that difficult stage of pilot paralysis. We’ve also got practical workshops. For example, Amazon Web Services is leading a session on building, training, deploying and monitoring machine learning models. So it’s really about engaging the whole ecosystem, with both the big ethical questions and the more front-of-mind practical questions too.
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