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Collision | "North America's fastest growing tech conference" Featured

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It’s coming up on seven years since Web Summit moved its eponymous conference from Dublin to Lisbon. While that caused a lot of hand wringing in Ireland at the time, it seems to have suited both sides in the long run. Web Summit continues to draw the great and the good to its event and Ireland has continued to draw investment from the big technology firms, as well as the not so big ones.

Now, there are rumblings that Web Summit’s Collision conference – held in Toronto for the past five years – may be on the move.

Canadian tech website BetaKit reports that Web Summit is seeking a three-year deal with local authorities roughly equivalent to the €11 million per year the Portuguese government pays to host the main conference. That would be more than double what it receives at present to base Collision there.

The Conference Board of Canada, Destination Toronto, Toronto Global and Toronto Region Board of Trade have requested financial support from the province of Ontario and the government of Canada to keep Collision in Toronto, BetaKit reported.

Collision has previously been held in Las Vegas and New Orleans, so the idea of moving on from Toronto is not hugely surprising. And, any city – reportedly, there are six bidding for it, including Toronto – that moves to host the conference in the future would probably know what to expect: hard negotiations and the dangling of a possible move elsewhere if a deal doesn’t get done.

That’s okay though. The Web Summit is a business, like any other. It is allowed to be a tough negotiator and, in turn, potential host cities are allowed to be tough in their negotiations with Web Summit.

While the big name speakers made the headlines for Web Summit when it hosted an event here, it was often said that the big selling point for Ireland Inc. was that it brought decision makers to the country. Irish start-ups could get in front of investors in a way they would struggle to do otherwise. In the years since, it isn’t at all clear that access has been lost. If Collision does leave Toronto, it will be interesting to see how hard its absence is felt in the years ahead.

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