Since its inception in 2011 the Best Defence Conference has had a challenging name to live up to. Having attended this show annually for the past 9 years I can attest that the organizers have certainly grown into that moniker.
Held in London, Ontario from 5-6 November 2019, the Best Defence Conference has firmly established itself as a must-attend event for defence industry reps, military brass and procurement officials.
What Best Defence lacks in terms of scale – it is far smaller than the Halifax based DEFSEC Atlantic trade show and the annual CANSEC expo in Ottawa – the event in London makes up for with enhanced business–to–business (B2B) networking opportunities. It was originally the brainchild of Heather Pilot, who organized the inaugural event on behalf of the London Economic Development Corporation.
In 2016 Heather formed the company Pilot Hill Ltd. and began producing Best Defence as a private venture. It was Pilot’s successful entrepreneurial spirit in creating this annual defence conference that led to her being selected as one of Esprit de Corps’ ‘Top 20 Women in Defence’ in 2018.
This year, for the first time, Best Defence was a full two-day conference. It kicked off with a Tuesday 5 November Keynote address by Major-General Derek Macaulay. This was followed with a presentation from Canada Global Affairs Institute Senior Analyst David Perry entitled “The Defence Industry Outlook Under Canada’s New Government.”
That first afternoon was rounded out with a speed-mentoring event organized by Women in Defence and Security (WiDS). This was followed by a meet-and-greet cocktail reception hosted by the event organizer.
For the Wednesday session things got started off with a CADSI sponsored ‘mini-outlooks’ with representatives from the three branches – Army, Navy, Air force - giving a 20 minute summary of the future procurement needs of the CAF. The CADSI full length Outlooks will take place in April 2020 in Ottawa and will feature a day- long fully expanded version of the preview presentations.
Once again, a highlight was the Tech Showcase Presentations segment in which company spokespersons were allowed just three minutes each to describe their innovative products and services.
For Industry reps present, the best was saved for last as Jennifer Maclean explained the governments NGEN funding opportunities & Factory of the Future Program.
This year was the best-formatted and slickest organized Best Defence event yet. Everything from the graphics, the event schedule and even the handy double sided large font nametags worked well.
Kudos once again to Heather Pilot and her team, Esprit de Corps is already look forward to seeing how Heather’s team makes Best Defence even better in 2020. Mark your calendars for November 3-4, 2020.