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Looking ahead: Synapse Summit 2020

Margie Manning

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Organizers of the Synapse Summit are considering fine-tuning a few details when the event is held again next year.

A later starting time and more use of the mainstage are among the potential changes, said Marc Blumenthal, Synapse Florida Inc. CEO and co-founder.

Overall, the energy and activity at this year’s summit was great, Blumenthal said. More than 5,500 people registered to attend the event at Amalie Arena in downtown Tampa, compared to 3,237 at the inaugural summit in March 2018. There were more than 350 exhibitors spread over four floors in two days this year, compared to 257 exhibitors who had just one day to show off their companies last March.

There were four mainstage events, featuring individual keynotes and panel discussions, and the quality was incredible, Blumenthal said. He singled out Omar Khan, chief product officer at Magic Leap, and Larry Quinlan, global chief information officer at Deloitte, as well as an investor panel that Blumenthal — who also heads investing firm Florida Funders — said was the best he’s ever seen.

“I think you’ll see the mainstage next year be used 100 percent of the time. It’s such a great stage. Why not?” Blumenthal said. “And we’ll have more exhibitors on the floor. We need to get more people in the bowl.”

Andy Hafer, also a co-founder at Synapse, said there’s been lots of positive comments about Amalie Arena ,and the summit likely will be held at the site again in 2020, at dates that will be determined after the Tampa Bay Lightning firm their schedule for the next season.

But Blumenthal conceded it’s hard to park and hard to get to Amalie on time, because of construction and traffic — factors that are beyond organizers’ control.

“Maybe we’ll start later. We don’t know,” Blumenthal said.

One thing he’s most proud of was the increased presence of major corporations, including Publix Super Markets, Jabil, Deloitte, SunTrust and Grow Financial.

“Many of them have not played in the early-stage innovation space before,” Blumenthal said. “They’re here and they’re excited and many others now want a part of it.”

He’s encouraging feedback, both positive and critical. Synapse sent an email to registered attendees Friday morning asking for their input.

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