Energy Disruptors: UNITE (EDU) is the world’s fastest-growing and most collaborative future energy event. Every 18 months, thousands of trailblazing entrepreneurs, industry leaders, inspiring creatives, and futurists join forces in Calgary, Alberta, to redefine future energy. For three immersive, impactful days, the entire energy spectrum united to make connections, learn, and collaborate on new business opportunities. It hosted 120 speakers, 2500 conference delegates, and 18 world-class brands as sponsors, all with the same desire to find game-changing solutions to the world’s biggest energy challenges in a unique and inspiring environment.
This unconventional summit was designed to be a conduit for global energy, mobility, and climate solutions and is unapologetically unique in cultivating diversity in perspectives on and off stage. They lean in on the difficult conversations, boldly exploring complex and divisive topics, including the crucial, yet much overlooked, social and human side of profound global change. The intent is to shatter industry barriers, break restraints on thought, and harness human ingenuity’s powerful potential to accelerate global game-changing energy solutions.
Although the UNITE summit is designed to help boost hope, inspiration, and collaboration, it’s also an environment designed to encourage diversity of thought and the rejection of conformity. This is what sets the UNITE summit apart from other energy conferences. The objective is that delegates and sponsors leave with optimism, connection and, most of all, empowerment. With the aim to unite globally under the same roof in the name of improving their energy future, hosting the summit in Calgary, a city rooted in the oil and gas industry, was step one of the disruption strategy.
To continue this disruptive atmosphere, the target audience was a wide-ranging mix of entrepreneurs, industry leaders, creatives, academics, futurists, and students from varying industries, geographies, and experiences, with differing and even outright opposing views.
The 2022 Summit Hosted:
120 speakers (45% identify as female)
312 volunteer shifts
18 world-class brands as sponsors, including RBC, Shell, EY, BLG, Google, IBM, and Air Canada
The content strategy was to attain an eclectic mix of the world’s most captivating individuals breaking barriers, driving positive change, and blazing trails in the energy industry and beyond. From global thought leaders and impact entrepreneurs to emerging talent, their goal was for attendees to be challenged and inspired by phenomenal people at the forefront of energy, business, and social transition through a diverse array of industries and perspectives.
Every element of the UNITE 2022 summit, be it the registration and the app, food and beverage, networking and sponsor areas, or session elements, was designed to maximize impactful connections between participants, all under one UNITED theme.
They created an energizing, exciting environment where people could engage in fun and organic ways to forge new relationships across multiple countries and industries through world-class content, intimate breakout sessions with global thought leaders, creative networking opportunities, engaging interactive experiences and sponsor activations.
The creative direction was a nod to the 1990s, referencing how long ago industries committed to energy change, with the content urging participants to understand how far there still is to go. They commissioned a Canadian artist to design their overall vibrant visual identity and applied it uniquely in every element. The nostalgic feel was mixed with modern technology and sponsor activations around a central cafeteria area for networking and meals.
“I was riding electric ponies, going down slides, shooting hoops in an environment that could be a nightclub at the same time as I listened and got inspired by fascinating speakers from the energy sector… What the team behind the conference created is groundbreaking!” ~ Kristina Hagström Ilievska, Baseload Capital, EDU2022 Speaker.
2284 square feet of scaffolding, weighing 40,000 lbs, not only created an impactful entry within the industrial feeling of the venue and the 90’s theme but provided a focal point for the merchandise area, entertainment and play areas, niches for a few sponsor activations, and a unique networking/working area on the upper level. The scaffolding was integrated into The Hive, their take on a trade show floor that housed unique sponsor activations designed in collaboration with their team. Each sponsor was required to integrate the EDU visual identity into their own in some way, shape or form. They were delighted to see how innovative the collaborations became.
The in-house restaurant, Bar 1912, hosted VIPs and sponsors for daily meals and intimate meet and greets with their keynote speakers. The restaurant’s enclosed balcony overlooked the main stage, where VIPs could watch the keynotes from the lounges or host a private client meeting in the back.
The program strategy was to avoid the typical conference dynamic and insert entertainment hits and transitions to energize the room and keep participants in a creative frame of mind.
The breakout sessions were held at the historic log cabin directly beside the main venue. The disruptive theme was natural in the old-timey location, starkly contrasting the screen content on the small stage.
The main stage design embraced the 90’s industrial look with scaffolding, pixel lighting, graffiti style set, and stage design. It also housed a unique beatbox activation for the primary sponsor to highlight their work with the local music community.
The digital content, entertainment, and topic theme at the main and breakout room stages followed the narrative of the “journey to net zero” theme but changed each day, leading their delegates on an emotional expedition. One hundred twenty speakers contributed to the production, including their top headliners Adam Grant, David Roberts, JaneMcGonigal, Dr. Vivienne Ming, Gillian Tett, and Erin Brockovich, with two of the keynote speakers presenting live as holograms – one planned and one impromptu.
The connections between key energy stakeholders have led to new businesses, careers, investments, unprecedented collaborations, and invaluable action. The event has been a catalyst for energy conversations, town halls, meetings and initiatives locally and around the globe.
“Energy Disruptors was the Burningman of the corporate world: participatory, inclusionary, and provocative. Held in Calgary and filled with individuals from across the energy sector, it was clear that quite a few of the ‘old guard’ has let down their guard to fund innovation and support the transition.” ~ Amee Barber, Government Relations and Business Development, EDU2022 delegate
The event is scheduled to return October 1-2, 2024, at an exciting new location; it will provide more breakout spaces and offer larger attendance opportunities.