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P3 2020 conference goes virtual, provides ‘on demand’ feature

Angela Gismondi
P3 2020 conference goes virtual, provides ‘on demand’ feature

P3 2020 will be delivered digitally this year due to COVID-19, providing “an event from home, on demand, everywhere,” explains Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships (CCPPP) president and CEO Mark Romoff.

“That’s really the way to best describe it,” he added.

And while the format is different, the conference will still feature content and speakers on projects from Canada and around the world, showcasing the latest innovations and presenting networking opportunities.

The 28th annual national conference hosted by the CCPPP will take place online from Nov. 17 to 19. The forum brings together senior government officials and business leaders in the P3 community.

“What is important to us is that our annual conference is a signature event for the council,” explained Romoff. “It was never our intent to delay the conference or not go ahead with it this year. It was really a matter of deciding once the pandemic had really taken hold what would be the nature of the event that we would do.

“We’re now gearing up to develop the programming, invite the speakers and get the sessions sorted out.”

Ticket prices for the conference have been adjusted to ensure as many members of the public and private sector can join this year.

“Part of the challenge for us is that the conference is an important revenue generator for the council,” said Romoff. “The net revenue is still less than it would normally have been, so we had to make sure we were able to mount an event that was going to enable us to generate the revenue we need and offset expenses and also enable us to sustain the organization.”

After a break in the program, there will be another set of concurrent sessions followed by a reception.

In order to ensure that people attending from different time zones can actually benefit from any and all aspects of the program, the on-demand capability is really important, Romoff noted. All registered delegates will have the opportunity to re-watch sessions at their leisure for 90 days.

“Not everyone will want to or be available to sit through all the sessions,” Romoff noted.
The focus on Nov. 19, the third day of the conference, will be international, with CCPPP partnering with Global Affairs Canada this year to mount the international cafe.

“Trade commissioners from other countries will be available to meet with delegates of the conference to talk about infrastructure and P3 opportunities in their particular market,” Romoff said.

“We’re working with Global Affairs Canada to identify the markets that offer excellent prospects for Canadian companies to pursue projects in those countries or to partner with companies in those countries to either pursue projects in that country, in Canada or in countries around the world. We will shortly identify which markets we are going to focus on.”

The third day will also have a number of market sounding sessions, likely a minimum of four and at least two will be international, focusing on projects in the U.S., Europe or Asia.

“At previous conferences, these have been very interesting and well-attended sessions because the business community is looking for new project opportunities. These market soundings are the opportunity, both for the host of those projects to test the interest on the part of the private sector…and an opportunity for companies to understand what is next in the pipeline and identify which ones may fit their capability,” Romoff explained.

The intent is to have as much of the program live and interactive as possible with question and answer sessions. Some of the speakers may need to be prerecorded depending on schedules.

“Whether it is recorded or live we will make sure that kind of exchange in dialogue is possible and is conveyed back to all those who are registered,” said Romoff.

In-person and virtual conferences have their distinct advantages, he added.

“Quite frankly, for every one of these events the networking is so important…that’s the advantage of an in-person event,” Romoff said.

“But the reality is that a virtual event actually offers you some very unique opportunities. When we’re looking at trying to bring keynote speakers or panellists for a particular session because you want folks who are the experts in the field, it’s often been difficult to get those folks to come to Toronto either because schedules won’t permit it or there is a cost involved. You get the benefit of access to a larger number of people from anywhere around the globe.”

The same thing goes for registration, he said, adding last year there were 1,000 people from more than 20 countries and the virtual nature of this year’s program opens it up to a much larger number of people in more countries.

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