Top Innovation Conferences of 2023
Offering thought-provoking insights, deep dives on trends and unique networking opportunities, conferences can be one of the best sources of inspiration for anyone looking to hatch that next big innovation—and this year has more of them to choose from than ever. Here’s a look at some of the top innovation conferences of 2023. (Listed in chronological order.)
Expo West (March 7-11) Anaheim, California
60,000+ people will converge in Anaheim to get a glimpse of the latest natural and organic offerings in the food, beverage, health and beauty categories. This show-stopping event combines a massive 550,000 square feet of product exhibition together with rich education sessions to provide incredibly fertile ground for insights, inspiration and discovery of the latest trends, ingredients, technology, consumer tensions/need-states and category disruptors. If you can’t make it to Expo West, consider checking out Expo East (September 20-23) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Shoptalk (March 26-29) Las Vegas, Nevada
Shoptalk is where thousands of retail changemakers come together every year to create the future of retail and gain insights and perspective not found anywhere else. The event covers the latest industry innovations, technologies, trends and business models, as well as the rapid transformation of what consumers discover, shop for and buy—everything ranging from apparel and electronics to beauty and grocery.
American Food Innovate Summit (March 30-31) Chicago, Illinois
This summit brings innovators in the food industry together as leaders from large companies share case studies and their valuable expertise on innovation, technology, R&D and formulation. In addition to gaining knowledge and insight from industry leaders, attendees will also have the ability to choose from several diverse topics to dive into, and get the opportunity to meet solution providers and attend rich networking events.
Supply Side East (April 18-19) Secaucus, New Jersey
Supply Side East is where health and nutrition industry professionals from across the globe come together to network, gain new insight into the latest science and industry trends, and discover new ingredients and formulation techniques that can drive brands forward. And if those dates don’t fit your schedule, you can check out Supply Side West, October 23-27 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Epic International Summit (April 27-29) Santa Barbara, California
The Epic International Summit brings professionals from a wide range of industries and locations together to ignite professional, personal and social innovation. This event provides an immersive opportunity with a combination of experiential learning, pause, ingenuity and community engagement designed to spark creative leadership for the increasingly complex world. Here, attendees will have the opportunity to cross-pollinate with dynamic experts during interactive experiential sessions, exclusive interviews, focused panels and innovation awards—all purposefully designed to inspire and celebrate ingenuity.
Back End of Innovation Conference (May 16-18) Boston, Massachusetts
The Back End of Innovation (BEI) Conference is 100% focused on helping R&D, innovation and strategy executives create a repeatable innovation process. Roll up your sleeves and work together with leaders in innovation and marketing to solve the most daunting challenges innovators confront on their journey to successful execution. The BEI conference will inspire you to overcome resistance and find creative ways to mobilize colleagues, optimize idea portfolios, align the right stakeholders and ensure your corporate innovation team turns ideas into dollars.
Front End of Innovation Conference (May 16-18) Boston, Massachusetts
This conference is seen as the annual meeting place for innovation and R&D executives from Fortune 1,000 organizations responsible for making innovation happen. Going strong for over two decades, this long-running event has garnered a proud reputation for delivering diverse formats, first-look content and some of the brightest minds of the 21stcentury. It features elite leaders at some of the world’s most ambitious companies and offers unprecedented access to top innovators, tech evangelists, project and product managers, designers and R&D executives—connecting attendees with the people and insights they need to stay on top of trends, spark change and navigate new paths for growth.
Global Summit—The Consumer Goods Forum (June 6-8) Kyoto, Japan
This event is hosted by The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF)—the only organization that brings consumer goods retailers and manufacturers together globally. This unique group is CEO-led and focuses on helping the world’s retailers and consumer goods manufacturers to collaborate, alongside other key stakeholders, to secure consumer trust and drive positive change. Conference attendees will have the opportunity to engage with hundreds of fellow CEOs and C-Suite executives from across the world for a series of unmissable plenary sessions, networking events, special breakouts, I-talks and more. This year’s summit will also showcase the I-Zone—offering direct access to the industry’s latest innovators—plus a full-day of store tours exploring the most relevant players in Japan’s unique retail scene.
Social Innovation Summit (June 6-7) Los Angeles, California
This annual event brings top social impact leaders from around the world together for two days of top-tier programming, discussions, debates and unique VIP networking opportunities. The summit attracts 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 Ja Rule, Al Roker, Shaquille O’Neal, Selena Gomez, John Calipari and Percy “Master P” Miller, as well as senior representatives from Tesla, YouTube, Nike, Lyft, Starbucks, PwC, Sephora and more.
Retail Innovation Conference (June 13-15) Chicago, Illinois
Join 5,000+ senior leaders and experienced executives from disruptive brands for inspirational discussions about the future of commerce, and to explore how brands are bringing new experiences and business models to life. This unique event brings the entire ecosystem together—from start-ups, to mid-size retailers, to big box retailers—for an immersive experience where decision-makers across store design, ecommerce, social media marketing and omnichannel strategy come together to collaborate and explore new paths to raise the bar at retail. Learn about hot trends and success stories in one of the micro-conferences and then see them brought to life on the expo floor.
TechConnect World Innovation Conference & Expo (June 19-21) Washington, D.C.
This unique conference brings together top applied research and early-stage innovations from universities, labs and startups with corporations that can help commercialize, adopt, buy, re-sell and invest in those technologies. The event covers a wide variety of sectors (including materials, manufacturing, energy, sustainability, medical/biotech, electronics, AI and business) and presents an excellent opportunity to meet key innovation players and stakeholders all in one place.
Creative Problem Solving Institute Conference (June 25-29) Buffalo, New York
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 (including Seed’s Cherri Prince).
Summer Fancy Food Show (June 25-27) New York City, New York
Summer Fancy Food Show (the largest trade-only specialty food event in the U.S.) attracts thousands of makers, buyers, brokers, distributors and other industry professionals for three days of product discovery, trend spotting, networking and business opportunities. In addition to seeing thousands of the newest and most innovative products on display, attendees have access to education and main-stage sessions that promise to provide rich insight into consumer research, product trends, transformational technological advancements and innovative marketing techniques.
Groceryshop (September 18-21) Las Vegas, Nevada
Groceryshop dives into the future of grocery retailers (supermarkets, mass merchants, convenience stores, drug stores, club/warehouse stores, discount stores and ecommerce players) as well as the rapid changes in the production and distribution of consumer products including fresh and packaged foods and beverages along with beauty, personal care, household and health products. The conference addresses the evolution of how consumers discover, shop and buy these products in a digital age, including the latest innovations, technologies, trends and business models.
Fast Company Innovation Festival (Fall TBD) New York City, New York
The Fast Company Innovation Festival features a full slate of talks by big-name speakers, immersive hands-on workshops and Fast Tracks field trips—intimate, behind-the-scenes tours of some of the most dynamic companies in NYC. The flexible format of this weeklong conference allows attendees to craft their own inspiring agendas, mixing creativity, design, leadership, social good, tech and more for a uniquely customized experience.
Future Festival (September 26-28) Toronto, Canada
Billed as a place for the world’s top innovators to prototype their future, this three-day conference hosted by Trend Hunter features engaging presentations, fresh post-pandemic data-driven insights, team workshops, trend safaris, personalized assessments and one-on-one consultations. This year, organizers promise to provide insight into how to spot trends, turn ideas into action, change the way you work, and thrive in a post-pandemic world.
If you can’t make it to the main event, Future Festival is hosting one-day super sessions in several other locations throughout the year.
HLTH (October 8-11) Las Vegas, Nevada
This innovation conference brings together top-level leaders, innovators and pioneers from across the entire health ecosystem (payers, providers, employers, investors, startups, life sciences, policymakers and innovation centers) to push the boundaries of health and care by finding innovative solutions to the industry’s most pressing problems. 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.
IMPACT (October 25-27) Boston, Massachusetts
Organizers call this “the world’s most useful event for anyone working in strategy, innovation, design, R&D and emerging tech inside a large organization” (including private and public companies; nonprofits and NGOs; and government agencies). The event features fireside chats, workshops, case studies, breakouts and one-to-one meetings focusing on innovation best practices, emerging technologies and new experiments, and professional development. Previous speakers include senior executives from Google, 3M, Dole Sunshine, Lucasfilm, General Mills, Lyft, Kickstarter, Williams-Sonoma, IBM, Bose, Converse, Citi, Samsung, Tiffany & Co., Ford, Hain Celestial, Ralph Lauren, Kellogg’s, Walmart, NASA, Harvard Business Review and more.
Innovation Roundtable Summit (November 7-9) Copenhagen, Denmark
Started in 2014, the Innovation Roundtable Summit has rapidly become the world’s biggest gathering of innovation executives from large multinational firms—providing a unique setting for in-depth dialogue and valuable networking among corporate peers. Attendees experience three highly interactive days of peer-to-peer exchange and learning on key innovation topics, and can tailor their experience around eight different themes: Business Model Innovation, Intrapreneurship & Future Scenarios; Culture & Leadership for Innovation & Agility; Digital Innovation & Transformation; AI, IoT, Data & Emerging Technologies; Design Thinking, Customer Centricity & Front End; and Innovation for Sustainability Circularity & Net Zero. This already-largest-of-its-kind event has grown further to also include dedicated programs for corporate executives working in HR and Marketing. All three summits are held at the same venue and are accessible with the same ticket, facilitating cross-domain learning that promises to spark innovation and transformational growth.
Do you know of another innovation conference we should consider adding to the list? Let me know!
And be sure to check out our article on the top creativity conferences of 2023.
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 copy.