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May 5, 2016

A Collision with the Future

Last week, Greater New Orleans welcomed Collision, the fastest growing technology conference in America.  This was the first year for Collision in New Orleans; we brought the event here from Las Vegas.

The numbers were impressive:

  • 11,382 attendees (35% increase from Vegas)
  • 106 countries
  • 332 speakers
  • 630 startups exhibiting
  • 407 investors from the world’s leading funds
  • 1st time ringing the NASDAQ closing bell in New Orleans

But the importance of Collision goes far beyond the numbers:  the conference is playing a multi-faceted role in building the future of Greater New Orleans as a world-class technology hub.

First of all, Collision is helping to build the brand of NOLA and tech.  We are already known and loved for our music, food and culture; as Collision continues to grow, “technology” will be added to the list of attributes people associate with New Orleans.

Second, large conferences drive sampling.  The thousands who came to Collision got to experience not only a conference, but also a city that is not only “no longer under water,” and is thriving in diverse ways.  Collision 2016 created scores of new brand ambassadors for New Orleans, who returned to over 100 countries with glowing reviews.

Third, the interactive nature of Collision encourages collaboration, with benefits that extend beyond the conference.  For example, GNO, Inc. hosted a panel with local hero Steve Gleason, local tech executive Matt Findley from inXile, and two researchers from Johns Hopkins University.  We discussed how linking eye scan with VR gaming technology will allow Gleason to play with his son again, but in virtual reality.  This connection of biomedical to gaming will not only help those with debilitating ALS, like Gleason, but also millions of other of mobility-impaired individuals, from military veterans to the elderly.

Fourth, this event contributed significantly to our local technology and startup ecosystem. Hundreds of local entrepreneurs, developers, designers, and more were exposed to the global leaders in the tech space without having to travel from home. The opportunity was also extended to students from schools in the region, who were granted scholarships to attend the conference at no cost and obtained first-hand exposure to this industry, influencing future educational plans for many who attended and even resulting in internships for some students.

Finally, Collision is an important business development opportunity for Greater New Orleans.  We are currently in discussions with a number of the companies that attended Collision, and some of them will undoubtedly end up moving or expanding to our region.

Collision was more than a conference, it was a catalyst for the future in New Orleans.  To quote technology evangelist and futurist Robert Scoble (@scobleizer), “What a brilliant move to bring that conference to New Orleans.  This is the first conference I will book for 2017.  It is the best.  Period.”


Michael Hecht
President & CEO
Greater New Orleans, Inc.