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TED conference relocating to Vancouver

VANCOUVER — The annual TED conference, one of the world’s most influential thought-incubators around technology, entertainment and design, is moving to Vancouver.
In 2014, the annual TED conference is relocating to Vancouver for at least two years.

VANCOUVER — The annual TED conference, one of the world’s most influential thought-incubators around technology, entertainment and design, is moving to Vancouver.

For nearly three decades the conference, known for its motto of “Ideas Worth Spreading” and its popular TED Talks interviews, has called California home.

But in a significant coup for both the Canadian tourism industry and Vancouver, with its focus on green technology and idea incubation, the Sapling Foundation, the non-profit group that runs the TED conference, has decided to move its signature event to Canada for at least the next two years, and maybe permanently.

Starting in March 2014, the TED conference, with its 1,200-plus delegates, will be held at the Vancouver Convention Centre. TED says it is also moving its popular TEDActive conference — a parallel simulcast conference — to Whistler from Palm Springs.

Negotiations around the potential move were apparently so secret that until Friday in Vancouver only Mayor Gregor Robertson, his chief of staff, Michael Magee, and city manager Penny Ballem were party to the discussion.

“TED talks are known around the world for being a source of inspiration, innovation and an opportunity to rethink some of our most pressing challenges. Millions of people watch the talks in person and online,” Robertson said in a statement.

“Having the TED organizers choose Vancouver as their new home is a big vote of confidence in the creative entrepreneurs, social innovators and community leaders who make Vancouver a leading-edge city.”

Vancouver is already home to TED’s conference operations team, so moving the conference here made sense, TED curator Chris Anderson said in a statement.

“We thought hard about how to make the 30th-anniversary TED conference truly memorable, and the Vancouver region offers the perfect setting for us,” he said. “The city happens to be home to TED’s conference operations team, and going there is always an inspiration — it’s cosmopolitan, energetic, innovative, yet with unrivalled natural beauty. Having Whistler just up the road is an ideal combination. We’re excited to have found a region that can host both these events so well. We’re predicting this will inspire creative thinking and dynamic ideas.”

TED says the theme of its two annual conferences — one in Long Beach and a global conference in Edinburgh, Scotland — is to support world-changing ideas. It invites the world’s leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes. Among those who have spoken are Sir Ken Robinson, Stephen Hawking, Pranav Mistry, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Sal Khan and Elizabeth Gilbert.

Many of those talks then become available online.

Both the Vancouver and Whistler conferences will be held from March 17-21, 2014, with registration opening later this month. TED says it is scaling back the main conference from 1,400 delegates to 1,200 “to strike the right balance of scale and intimacy and allow for more in-depth human connection.”

TED began in 1984, the brainchild of architect, urban designer and prolific author Richard Saul Wurman, to tap into the ideas and thoughts of the world’s leading lights. The conference became a cultural icon with its popular TED Talks program.

In 2000, Wurman sold the conference concept to Anderson’s non-profit, the Sapling Foundation. Anderson began creating TED’s themes into a number of popular spinoffs, including the TED Prize, which this year will award $1 million for an idea that will change the world.

In 2006 TED began offering the TED Talks online for free. There are now more than 1,000 of the talks posted online. By mid-2012, the talks had been viewed more than one billion times.

Robertson said the city worked with the Canadian Tourism Commission, Tourism Vancouver and the Vancouver Convention Centre to get the conference.

The announcement comes as Vancouver tries to build and cement its future as an international hub for digitally advanced technology companies.

As part of its attempt to leverage the positive press from the 2010 Winter Olympics, the city began to focus on green-business strategies. Last month, the city and the Vancouver Economic Commission announced plans to create a technology incubation and acceleration centre “to deliver incubation and acceleration business development services for early-stage technology and social innovation companies.”