TEDxDetroit to return with smaller, in-person event this year

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

TEDxDetroit, an annual day-long conference of the area’s thinkers, entrepreneurs, educators, artists, scientists and more, will return with a live event this year at The Icon Detroit along the city's riverfront.

Tickets went on sale at 9 a.m. Wednesday at TEDxDetroit.com for the Nov. 10 event. 

The event, presented by mortgage lender UWM, usually attracts thousands but will be limited this year to 330 tickets for the theater as a safety precaution in light of COVID-19, officials said. Additional tickets will be available for a socially distanced viewing party on the Icon Detroit campus.

Last year's TEDxDetroit was entirely virtual.

“We really think it’s important to people back together in-person again,” Terry Bean, TEDxDetroit executive producer and vice president of sales at PKIG, said in a statement. “Face-to-face networking will always beat pixel-to-pixel. The key is to do it safely and responsibly — and we’re building that into this year’s venue and event.”

This is the first year the event will be held at The Icon, an 18-acre campus along the Detroit Riverwalk that is the former UAW-GM Center for Human Resources. 

Previous TEDxDetroit events have featured speakers including NASA scientists, Pixar filmmakers, autonomous vehicle pioneers, poets, groundbreaking cancer researchers, AR/VR creators and musicians. 

Stephen McGee of Stephen McGee Films, using two drones in demonstration, on Thursday during his TEDX Detroit at Fox Theater.

“The secret to creativity is cross-pollination,” Charlie Wollborg, curator of TEDxDetroit and co-founder of Moka Boka Storybooks, said in a statement. “When we bring these blue-flame thinkers from different industries with different backgrounds together, we foster new connections and stretch the boundaries of what’s possible.”

The event includes access to the TEDxLabs expo, an exhibit showcasing art, technology, and small business.

Interested speakers and exhibitors may apply at the TEDxDetroit website. The deadline to apply is Oct. 1.

Organizers are strongly encouraging vaccinations and masks. For those who are unvaccinated, the event will be live-streamed on TEDxDetroit.com.