2020 was the year of the virtual conference, as event organizers were forced to adapt to the realities of COVID-19. 2021 looks to be more of a mixed bag, with some innovation conferences remaining in the digital realm and others hoping to return to an in-person setting.
No matter which environment you prefer, you’re sure to have access to plenty of conferences with thought-provoking insights, trends and unique networking opportunities
With that in mind, here’s a look at five of the top innovation conferences you can check out this year (listed in chronological order).
NOTE: Many major innovation conferences—including the Adobe 99U Conference, The Economist Innovation Summit, Fast Company Innovation Festival, FEI, Retail Innovation Conference and Trend Hunter Future Festival—are still firming up their plans for 2021. We will be sure to update the list below as more details become available.
1. Creative Problem Solving Institute Conference (June 7-24) Virtual
Creativity breeds innovation and there is no better way to sharpen your creativity than by attending CPSI. The CPSI conference, which will once again be sponsored by Seed Strategy, has been inspiring minds and elevating ideas for over 60 years—making it the longest-running creativity conference in the world. Attendees can expect to stretch their creative limits in hands-on workshops while gleaning inspiration from renowned and respected speakers.
2. Social Innovation Summit (June 8-10) Virtual
Described as “a global convening of black swans and wayward thinkers,” this annual event puts an emphasis on action and an unapologetic push towards scale. The summit brings together leaders in technology, investment, philanthropy, international development and business to investigate solutions and catalyze inspired partnerships that are committed to disrupting history. Past speakers include leaders from Nike, Lyft, Starbucks, Prudential, TOMS, Discovery Education, YouTube, Sephora and more.
3. TechConnect World Innovation Conference & Expo (June 14-16) Austin, Texas
For over 20 years, TechConnect World has represented one of the largest multi-sector gatherings of technology IP, technology ventures, industrial partners and investors in the world. The conference aims to bring together the world’s top technology transfer offices, companies and investment firms to locate the most promising technologies and early-stage companies from across the globe. This year, this even includes the annual SBIR/STTR Spring Innovation Conference, Spring AI TechConnect and the Nanotech Conference Series—the world’s largest and longest running nanotechnology event. Last year’s attendees represented organizations from North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia.
4. Innovation Roundtable Summit (June 15-17) Copenhagen, Denmark
Be part of the world’s largest gathering of innovation executives at this highly interactive conference that promises to deliver the latest insights and actionable solutions for your toughest corporate innovation challenges. Founded in 2014, this conference joins more than 600 innovation executives and 250 blue chip multinational corporations from a wide range of industries in keynote talks, innovation tours, expert-facilitated roundtable discussions and immersive learning labs. New this year, attendees will also have access to the Marketing Innovation Roundtable Summit and the HR Innovation Roundtable Summit, happening in parallel at the same venue.
5. HLTH (October 17-20) Boston, Massachusetts
This innovation conference brings together top-level leaders, innovators and pioneers from across the entire health ecosystem (payers, providers, employers, investors, startups, pharma, policymakers and the patient community) to innovate and transform the future of health. The four-day event is full of mission-driven initiatives, unparalleled experiences with industry-leading speakers, learning sessions facilitated by top health and political leaders and plenty of opportunities to collaborate and network. Previous keynote speakers include executives from organizations like Johns Hopkins, Humana, Lilly, Walgreens, Rite Aid, the Food and Drug Administration, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Google and more.
Be sure to check back for updates as additional conferences are announced throughout the year. Happy conferencing!
Interested in learning about more inspirational conferences? Check out our guide to this year’s top creativity conferences.
Adam Siegel is the Editor of The Accelerator and VP, Creative at Seed Strategy where he draws upon his diverse experience in advertising, research and innovation to craft breakthrough creative and winning concept copy.