Not your typical tech festival

Technology offers amazing opportunities and strange, new challenges.

In the face of all these changes and complications, how do we do the right thing? How do we know what the right thing is? 

True North Festival is not your typical tech conference or festival series. Here, you’ll learn from humans (and robots) charting the future of technology. You’ll explore how tech can make us happier and healthier (or not); what makes cities smarter; and what citizenship and democracy look like for humans in a world that eats data for breakfast. And as always, we’ll analyze this through the lens of Tech For Good. 

True North Festival is a week-long event series that will feed the brain, nourish the soul and spread love throughout the community.

To put it simply (which is tough in tech), Waterloo Region is going to light up from June 1-7, 2020 as the community runs more than 50 events and hosts over 25,000 people. All five senses will be fed as tech founders, creative thinkers, makers and artists come together to examine what it means to be human (and humane) in our tech-driven world through various True North Festival events.

True North Festival is the big tent and Communitech is just the ringleader. 

While True North is powered by Communitech, the lion’s share of festival events will be run by our partners in the #KWAwesome community. At Communitech, we’re really just wearing the top hat and cracking the whip (figuratively, of course) while serving as ringleader for this crazy thing. What’s our secret sauce for making True North Festival the banger it’s been and will continue to be? It’s this place: Waterloo Region. A small-town community with worldwide ambitions, guided by a shared moral compass. A community of barn raisers that makes awesome things happen. A community that knows the time is now to take it to the next level. A community that will knock your socks off. 

There will be sounds and sights for all to explore through an abundance of cultural exhibits.

Attendees can jam along to the performances at Open Ears Festival of Music & Sound or experience interactive art and music at the Summer Lights Festival. If that’s not your thing, you can also peek behind the curtain at some of Waterloo Region’s biggest and brightest tech companies with Startup Open House. Festival-goers can also head to the Communitech Hub to put their hands to their hearts and watch as community members are granted citizenship to the land of the True North strong and free.

Communitech’s Centre Stage brings awe-inspiring keynote speakers to discuss the importance of Tech For Good.

At Communitech’s True North Centre Stage, minds will be blown as top speakers discuss the implications of innovation and the importance of ensuring that technology is guided by ethos above all else. Those hungry for more can check out Fluxible, a popular five-day gathering of UX pros, for a cheeky, ironic and playful celebration of user experience.

Why Waterloo?

True North Festival takes place in Canada’s innovation capital, Waterloo Region.

The birthplace of search, smartphones and the blue bin, it’s where quantum computing, AI, fintech, blockchain and robots are part of the daily vernacular. It’s one of the world’s hottest places to start and grow a tech business.

Waterloo Region is a one-of-a-kind place that we know shouldn’t have become the success story that it is today. There have been countless studies into how this small community of barnraisers has become one of the fastest-growing and most powerful innovation ecosystems in the world - and they’ve all come up with nothing. What’s our secret sauce? We like to think it’s the moral compass that brings us together, forms our collaborative culture and guides us to tackle all the big and small things that make us tick - together. And this compass is what has guided the community to establish True North Festival into the juggernaut celebration that it is and continues to be.

True North Festival’s venue is Waterloo Region. Events are happening all throughout Uptown Waterloo and Downtown Kitchener. Attendees can travel to events on its vibrant streets, in its unique buildings as well as in its transformed industrial spaces by hopping on the iON - our new light-rail transit system!

Let's get into it.

General FAQs:

Communitech is a public-private innovation organization that helps technology companies start, grow and succeed. We work with our partners to create the places, programming and ecosystem that make great things happen for tech-driven companies. Communitech hosts hundreds of events every year and we host thousands of visitors from around the globe. We do this to bring fresh ideas and perspectives to our ecosystem, our country and the companies we support.

True North Festival helps us engage influencers, innovators and policymakers in conversations about the intersections between humanity and technology. Our intent is to help industries, communities and individuals by examining the values that guide technology innovation.

Yes. A select number of True North Festival and True North Centre Stage passes will be made available to members of the news media. Please visit our media page for additional information on how to procure media accreditation.

In its third year, True North Festival has moved its mainstage activities to centrally-located event venue, Centre In The Square. Here, Communitech’s central keynote presentations are taking place at what we have dubbed True North Centre Stage on June 3, 2020. During our keynote presentations, minds will be blown as top speakers discuss the implications of innovation and the importance of ensuring that technology is guided by ethos above all else.

True North Festival will take place in Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada. True North Festival attendees will get the opportunity to participate in events at venues throughout both Uptown Waterloo and Downtown Kitchener. 

Waterloo Region anchors the western end of the Toronto-Waterloo innovation corridor. It’s a rapidly growing urban centre surrounded by beautiful countryside situated in the heart of southern Ontario. We’re an hour’s drive from Toronto, two hours from Buffalo, NY and three hours from Detroit, MI. The Region is home to the three cities of Waterloo, Kitchener and Cambridge and the four townships of Wellesley, Woolwich, Wilmot and North Dumfries. Please visit our Amenities page for location and travel information.

Yes. We are happy to send you an invitation letter once your ticket is purchased. Please email us at truenorthinfo@communitech.ca with your request. To determine if you need a visa, please visit the Government of Canada Visitor Page.

Absolutely! We’ve provided a letter template to help explain why this is an important opportunity for organizations concerned with technology, society and tech as a force for good. Click here to download and use the template.

Yes. A select number of True North Festival and True North Centre Stage passes will be made available to members of the news media. Please visit our media page for additional information on how to procure media accreditation.

True North Centre Stage payment questions:

True North is a week-long community festival. Each event manages its own registration and ticketing process. All happenings are listed on the Events page. Clicking on the event information of the event that you are interested in will reveal it's details, including any registration and ticketing requirements. Communitech only manages the ticketing for True North Centre Stage.

No. Passes are unique to an individual attendee and they are non-transferrable once True North Centre Stage events have begun. Lost or stolen passes can be replaced at a cost of $100 CDN and with verification of government-issued ID.

Remember: Most of the True North Festival events and activities are free! Please check out the schedule for a complete listing of festival events.

Yes, Communitech members receive 10% off the ticketed cost of True North Centre Stage passes. Please contact us at truenorthtickets@communitech.ca for more details.

Yes. We can invoice your organization for orders of 10 or more passes. Please contact us at truenorthtickets@communitech.ca for more details. Invoices must be paid in full before ticket codes can be issued.

Yes. Refunds will be issued until May 4, 2020 at 11:59pm. No refunds will be issued after this date. We really wish you could make it, but we get it: life and work may interfere. As an option, you can also transfer your pass to someone else before May 4, 2020 at 11:59pm. Sooner would be awesome—but we know plans can change. Please contact us at truenorthtickets@communitech.ca for information about pass refunds.

You can transfer your pass before May 19, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Go to truenorthwaterloo.com and select the ‘get your pass’ tab. Scroll to the bottom of the page until you find “Already Registered? View or modify your existing registration,” and follow the hyperlink. If you can’t find your registration or need help with the transfer, please reach out to truenorthtickets@communitech.ca.

You will receive a receipt via email when you purchase your pass. If you do not receive an email or you can’t find it, you can log into the registration page and print another one.

Travel questions:

Easy answer: planes, trains and automobiles. Waterloo Region is located in Ontario, Canada about an hour west of Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. We’ve provided information on how to get here on our Amenities page.

The True North Centre Stage venues are conveniently located along or very near to the ION light rail, Waterloo Region’s newest light-rail transit service. (Very near = within five blocks. Yes, we counted.) You could also grab a taxi or use a ride-sharing service.

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For additional travel information, visit the Amenities page.

Yes. You will need to cover your own travel costs and hotel. Travel expenses to Waterloo Region are not included in the pass fees.

Sorry, your luggage must remain at your hotel. Luggage is not allowed at the True North Centre Stage venues. (And we don’t recommend hauling it around to other Festival events!)