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January 5, 2018
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Ten Inspiring Innovation Conferences Happening in 2018

Offering thought-provoking insights, deep dives on trends and unique networking opportunities, innovation conferences can be one of the richest sources of inspiration for any innovator. And the good news is that there are plenty of quality options to choose from this year.

Here’s a look at ten of the top innovation conferences worth checking out in 2018.


1. CES Innovation Conference (Jan 9-12) Las Vegas, Nevada

This conference, coined “The Global Stage for Innovation,” kicks off bright and early in the New Year. The 2017 rendition featured over 180,000 attendees and more than 4,000 exhibiting companies, serving as a grand stage for the world’s most innovative thinkers as they offer insights that not only change the industry, but also our lives. This year, you’ll be able to tap into presentations on the latest trends and emerging technologies from speakers at companies like Amazon, Verizon, Lyft, General Motors and Airbnb.


2. R&D Innovation Summit (March 21-22) Chicago, Illinois

Research and Development is integral for any business looking to successfully develop enduring innovation. This R&D-focused summit will provide you with tools to implement innovation programs and insights to support your company’s future growth. Speakers from Allstate, Kraft Foods and Johnson and Johnson will cover topics ranging from how to develop a successful R&D pipeline, establishing and improving processes, training and retaining teams to foster innovation and leveraging inspiration from emerging industries.


3. Innovation Summit 2018 America (March 22) Chicago, Illinois

Looking to gain insights on artificial intelligence and machine learning? Then this conference hosted by The Economist is just for you! You’ll hear from leading thinkers from companies like Walmart, GE and Dell on how to truly harness this new technology to build an intelligent company. Learn about where AI is set to have the biggest impact in the near future, how it can add new value, how to best equip workforces to take advantage of the opportunities that AI presents and more.


4. Retail Innovation Conference (April 30 – May 2) New York, New York

This conference brings together leaders from disruptive brands that are raising the bar in retail. During this two-day conference you’ll hear inspiring success stories, gain actionable takeaways, learn business insights from top analysts, experience hands-on workshops and have the opportunity for open networking to make some great connections in the industry. Plus, this conference features the Retail Innovator Awards, a program that honors retail executives who are focused on driving change through innovation.


5. 99U (May 9-11) New York, New York

Powered by Adobe, this vibrant conference with expert breakout sessions, main stage talks, hands-on workshops and organized networking events, offers one-of-a-kind live experiences that inspire creative professionals to bring their ideas to life. Oh, and this conference is known for its killer closing party at the Museum of Modern Art. So, if you are passionate about putting ideas into action and you like to have fun doing so, then you will love this conference.


6. Summit-Business Innovation Factory (Sept 13-14) Providence, Rhode Island

This two-day conference takes place in a historic theatre and features storytellers from many different industries telling 15-minute transformational stories about their creative processes, hurdles and where they’re heading next. This conference is sure to leave you feeling inspired and ready to transform your thinking and your business.


7. Future Festival (Sept 18-20) Toronto, Canada

Billed as a place for the world’s top innovators to prototype their future, this three-day conference hosted by Trend Hunter (a top trend firm) features engaging presentations, personalized innovation assessments and one-on-one consultations—plus the opportunity to engage in the same workshops that NASA used to prototype its mission to Mars. This conference will inspire you with next-level trends and consumer insights that will help you accelerate your future innovations. Plus, if you can’t make it to Canada, Future Festival is hosting several one-day innovation conferences at a city near you; click here to see the list.


8. Harvest Summit (Oct 19) Sonoma County, California

Break out of industry silos and collaborate with a diverse group of leaders in technology, media, entertainment, food, wine and agriculture—all at one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Joining innovators and influencers together with chefs, winemakers and artisans to discuss everything from raising capital, igniting transformational change and making a social impact, this inspirational one-day conference is sure to leave both your stomach and your mind full and happy.


9. Fast Company Innovation Festival (Fall 2018) New York, 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 week-long conference allows attendees to craft their own inspiring agendas, mixing creativity, design, leadership, social good, tech and more for a uniquely customized experience.


10. Back End of Innovation (Oct 16-18) Scottsdale, AZ

The Back End of Innovation (BEI) conference is 100% focused on the execution of innovation. 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 teams, optimize idea portfolios, align the right stakeholders and more.


So, which of these innovation conferences sounds the most inspirational to you? Will you be attending any of them? Are there any others you think we should add to the list? I’d love to hear from you—comment below or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Jeff Johns is SVP, Creative at Seed Strategy where he consistently delivers breakthrough creative at lightning speed across a wide range of best-in-class design practices: packaging, branding, shelf aisle optimization and advertising.

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