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Four days at the wild, AI-filled Collision Conference—before it bails for Canada

NEW ORLEANS—From the parades strolling through the showroom floor on its final day to various official evening meet-ups at hallowed French Quarter hotel bars, the annual Collision Conference has increasingly embraced its New Orleans home over the past three years. The setting, combined with the conference’s eclectic programming—featuring tech execs and developers, startups and investors, athletes and musicians, city planners and Hollywood types, plus Al Gore(?!)—has made Collision a unique and popular calendar addition. It’s easy to believe in the organizing team’s favorite moniker: “North America’s fastest-growing tech conference.”

But nearly as soon as the curtain rose on the 2018 Collision Conference, attendees learned things would be changing for 2019. Sparked by feedback and the experience of the event’s international attendees, Collision’s European-based organizers announced their decision to take things north to Toronto, Canada, moving forward.

“New Orleans, Collision’s home for three years, is a very special town, but as Collision grows we needed to find a bigger base with more global connectivity. I believe that Canada and Toronto have lived to some extent in the technology shadow of America, but that’s changing and changing fast,” said Paddy Cosgrave, CEO of Collision and Web Summit, in a day-one press release. “It’s true that some international tech entrepreneurs have been denied visas to attend Collision in New Orleans in recent years. At the same time, Canada now fast-tracks international work visas.”

New Orleans doesn’t tend to suffer from a lack of critical hosting infrastructure. Louis Armstrong International, though currently small compared to airports in other destination cities, has expansion plans in the works. The city’s convention center is massive, and the local array of housing options and service-industry heavyweights has led everything from the Super Bowl to WrestleMania to choose the Crescent City.