C2MTL sets a new global benchmark yet again
MONTREAL, June 2, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - C2MTL proved once again its top tier status in the realm of international business conferences. With avant-garde programming promoted as "somewhere between genius and insanity," the three-year-old immersive conference on creativity and commerce broke attendance records and left brains buzzing with big ideas on the many ways imagination can transform business and society. Curated by creative agency Sid Lee and supported by Founding Partner Cirque du Soleil, Content Partner Fast Company magazine, and Leadership Partner Microsoft, C2MTL and its roster of 76 internationally-renowned speakers challenged this year's 4,000 participants to reflect on the commercial and social significance of John Donne's famous line "No Man is an Island." The results were nothing less than extraordinary.
C2MTL's sold-out 2014 edition set out to help assembled industry leaders better understand the contours of the technological and social revolutions that are reshaping business as we know it. For inspiration, C2MTL turned the main stage of the Forum Microsoft over to internationally-renowned thinkers and change-leaders including filmmaker James Cameron, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Prof. Muhammad Yunus, Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, filmmaker Xavier Dolan, economist Noreena Hertz, LCD Soundsystem founder James Murphy and entrepreneurs and community leaders Zita Cobb of Fogo Island and Tony Hsieh of Zappos.com. Uniting all speakers was the message that whether you are confronting fundamental change or trying to spark it, radical creativity goes a long way.
This message was also developed through speaker presentations in the Garage, a new addition to C2MTL for 2014. True to its name, the Garage featured stripped-down, less formal talks by thought-leaders from a variety of industries, including Google's Alex Cuthbert, Steve Tam of Indiegogo, and Square's Françoise Brougher.
The Forum Microsoft was home to the brand-new concept of C2 Minutes, where author and strategist Justin Kingsley led the audience in collective experiences designed to connect them and give them a taste of Montreal culture. The masterful host had the audience of 1,500 international decision-makers in the Forum sing a chanson à répondre, kiss each other on the cheeks à la Montreal, slap their arms like beavers, and throw hundreds of lighted balls simultaneously to create a collective work of art in the form of a long-exposure photograph.
Kicking off three days of inspiration, Montreal musician Patrick Watson performed a new song from his upcoming album with five chorists, whose angelic voices lingered. British composer Philip Sheppard also gave the audience goosebumps with his haunting rendition of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah on a cello.
A memorable moment was the hacking of a C2 presentation by Ubisoft's Watch Dogs, with the DedSec community warning the audience of the risks of an over-connected world while celebrating the hacker-like architectural prowess of Bjarke Ingels. Another hacking stunt was noted at the event when two Montreal start-up entrepreneurs donned camouflage gear and paddled across the Lachine Canal to infiltrate the event. They were intercepted by security but their good-humored audacity was applauded.
More than 4,000 participants attended the three days of C2MTL 2014, leapfrogging increases in the 2013 edition. Forty-six percent of attendees were from outside Quebec, coming from 25 different countries including France andSingapore. Sixty percent of participants hailed from the executive suites of major corporations and small business alike. C2MTL is especially proud of the fact that 42% of participants were returning for their second or third time, a retention rate three times the average for business conferences.
"We are creating a true emerging community and that is something we are extremely excited about," said Benoit Berthiaume, CEO of C2MTL.
This evolving community will see the addition of C2EU in Madrid, Spain - the first international version of C2MTL in what the conference's organizers are calling a "global ecosystem of creativity and innovation" on five continents.
Helping spread the word about C2MTL around the world were 200 journalists representing local, national and international media outlets, including The Economist, Les Échos, Nouvel Observateur, Forbes, Monocle and USA Today.
During the day, participants learned, played, brainstormed and networked together in day-long laboratories, 34 partner-led workshops and group bike rides. Interactive art installations organized by MASSIVart allowed participants to test drive Oculus Rift goggles with a virtual reality experience designed by Felix & Paul and, via #eatme, have their tweets spelled out in pasta. The E-180 Knowledge Market connected participants looking for business expertise with those who possessed it while the Bring-Your-Own-Issue solutions saw business students from Mosaic, the creativity and innovation hub at HEC Montréal, focus their collective knowledge on real-life problems presented by participants. In the DIY Lab, participants answered challenges set by C2MTL speakers such as Prof. Muhammad Yunus and Google's Abigail Posner, with brainstorming techniques including a post-it party, a walking meeting or blind-folded immersion in a ball pit.
Over in the Garage, a new event called Life's a pitch gave a group of young entrepreneurs 333 seconds to win the interest of assembled investors.
The Microsoft-sponsored Business Reimagined: A Live Case Study channeled the expertise and knowledge of participants into business strategies for Montreal's One Drop foundation, which works to provide communities worldwide with access to clean water. Participants were grouped into teams to develop pitches and the top three teams were given the opportunity to make their pitches hundreds of people prior to James Cameron's keynote talk.
During the evening, conference-goers were given the opportunity to connect while taking in performances by some of the biggest names from Montreal's legendary arts scene. The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, Mutek, Elektra and Cirque Éloize all contributed to the celebrations at C2MTL. Founding Partner Cirque du Soleil kicked off the first night of the conference with an original production called Creative Spark, created specifically for C2MTL.
C2MTL's closing night proved once again that partying is serious business. LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy served-up an exclusive C2MTL DJ set that was followed by hometown turntable heroes DJ Shaydakiss and DJ A-Rock. The closing night was an eclectic mix of genres in the truest Montreal fashion, with Beat Market's interactive projection show, Phi Centre's mindblowing Morphose creation, electro-swing with Speakeasy and new rock with Le Matos.
C2MTL: Montréal to the bone
Montréal and C2MTL's venue, Arsenal, once again provided the perfect backdrop for exploring creativity and commerce. Home to Cirque du Soleil, Ubisoft, Moment Factory, Bombardier, Arcade Fire, Patrick Watson and countless other leaders in cultural and business innovation, Montréal helped put participants in the spirit of imagining new potential in the vast number of professional fields they represented. This sense was reinforced by Arsenal, a Victorian shipbuilding facility now repurposed as a contemporary art gallery in the heart of Montreal's revitalized Griffintown neighborhood. The interior of Arsenal was completely customized for C2MTL 2014. The re-imagined layout provided even returning participants with an almost completely new C2MTL experience.
Tried and true aspects of C2MTL remained, of course. The Forum's storyteller, house band Plaster, visuals by Baillat Cardell & fils, production design Hugues Letellier, script-writing by Nadia Lakhdari and Thomas Pintal's stage direction provided this year's C2MTL with a sense of continuity from last year's event. This year's event also saw the return of the ever-popular Concièrges Extraordinaires service and networking features like Hub and the E-180 Knowledge Market.
C2MTL was especially proud to host delegations from the City of Montreal led by Mayor Denis Coderre and from the Government of Quebec led by the Minister for the Economy, Innovation and Exports, Jacques Daoust, and the Minister responsible for Montreal, Robert Poëti. Both delegations reaffirmed their funding commitments to C2MTL and their belief in the conference as a leading agent of wealth creation for both Montreal and the province of Quebec.
"Creativity and commerce are key for economic growth," Minister Poeti said.
In the coming weeks, a survey will establish the value of economic opportunities developed at C2MTL but word of mouth already has businesses, entrepreneurs and artists buzzing, with stories of new contracts and connections abounding.
C2MTL 2015: Kevin Spacey and more
The next chapter of C2MTL is already promising to be a blockbuster with the announcement of headliner Kevin Spacey and featured speaker Chelsea Clinton for 2015. And that's just for starters. Stay tuned as the full lineup takes shape over the coming months, and don't forget to put May 26-28, 2015 in your calendars.
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