Lessons From the Inaugural International UAV Show

By Connie Jeske Crane, February 9, 2017

As Adam Sax, president and CEO of The Sky Guys, which co-hosted International UAV Show in Toronto in December 2016, says, “Sometimes you have to jump in head first.” That strategy proved effective for his drone services and technology company despite the risks, expense and effort new events pose. Sax shared details about International UAV Show and advice for planners organizing first-time events.

Why
The drone industry is in its infancy, and Sax says his company saw a need for an international show in Canada. Plus, the event had “ridiculously good” financial opportunities. “The global market for commercial drone applications is $127 billion and continuing to grow rapidly,” says Sax.

Who
The Toronto UAV show targeted the drone industry and government sector, attracting 25 exhibitors (including Canada-based Avidrone Aerospace, Switzerland-based senseFly and PrecisionHawk of Raleigh, North Carolina) and 600 attendees.

What
The agenda included indoor drone racing with prize money, drone demos, a student hackathon, and panel discussions on regulatory and insurance issues, as well as industry applications from agriculture to oil and gas to military.

Sax deems International UAV Show a success, albeit a learning experience. “It cost us a lot more than we had anticipated; everything took longer than we expected,” he says. A major cause of headaches was the fact that 75 percent of attendees registered only a week in advance of the show.

“The hackathon, unfortunately, was not as big of a success,” says Sax, explaining that postsecondary engineering students were busy writing exams and couldn’t attend, pitch startup ideas or network with potential employers.

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