Founders & Sponsors Underwrite Entire Costs of 2020 Conference


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3rd-Annual St. Louis-based AI & Tech Conference featuring nationally-known thought-leaders across multiple disciplines will now be free and open to all.

 ST. LOUIS -- September 28, 2020 -- The 2020 Conference, scheduled over 5 afternoons during the month of October and featuring more than 60 nationally-known AI and technology thought leaders, will be free and open to all for the first time. Conference organizers announced today that a handful of strategic sponsors and founders have underwritten the entire cost of the Conference in order to allow anyone, whether a middle-school student or a Fortune 25 CEO, to attend at no cost.

 The nonprofit, co-founded by David Karandish and Chris Sims of along with Prepare’s Technical Director Dave Costenaro, aims to increase awareness of, access to, and collaboration around AI and other 4th-industrial revolution technologies in order to advance the human experience. Sponsors of this year’s Conference include 1904 Labs, Bayer, and Daugherty Business Solutions at the Platinum level, and Capacity, Centene Corporation, Object Computing and the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis at the Gold level, among many others.

 “We happen to be headquartered in a region that thrived in the first and second industrial revolutions and got left behind in the third,” said Prepare CoFounder David Karandish. “We believe that the region cannot afford to let that happen again. The Conference is one way that we can bring people together around big ideas, grow partnerships within the community and beyond, and lay groundwork to ensure that St. Louis’s role in the new tech-driven economy is as a leader, not a follower.”

 The Prepare Conference was originally an in-person, 1,000-person event to be held in late April, but pivoted to virtual when the Coronavirus Pandemic hit. The in-person Conference was always going to include a free component called the Workforce Development Forum, sponsored by Daugherty Business Solutions and the support of all sponsors.

 “We’d been working on this programming with an incredible committee of volunteers since the fall,” said Prepare board member Andy Sweet, VP of Product Engineering and Innovation at Daugherty Business Solutions, “then Covid hit and all of the issues that we were already talking about - how social determinants of health can impact an entire region’s ability to thrive; how we absolutely must broaden the tech talent pipeline to include more women and people of color - became even more top-of-mind. The fact that we can now open up not just that programming, but all of our programming, to the audiences that deserve it most, is really exciting.”

 This year’s speakers include Marlon West, Head of Effects Animation for Frozen 2, Frozen and Moana; 2016 TED-Prize Winner and Space Archaeologist Sarah Parcak; National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Deputy Director Dr. Stacey Dixon; Ranveer Chandra, Chief Scientist of Microsoft Azure Global; and Chris Sakalosky, Managing Director of Healthcare & Life Sciences for Google, among many others.

 “We’ve had strong support from the St. Louis community from the outset,” said Prepare’s Executive Director Cindy Teasdale, “and this year is no exception. We never could have extended the experience to such a broad audience without the move to virtual; even recording a quarter of our content in the old world would have been cost-prohibitive. So the silver lining in losing the ability to gather in person this year is the fact that we can now open the room to anyone who’s interested in learning more about AI, versus a thousand people who have the time and resources to gather in person in St. Louis.”

 Prepare’s first Annual Conference was in 2018 at the Eric P. Newman Education Center on the Washington University in St. Louis Medical School Campus, where 350 tech and AI enthusiasts gathered to hear from 30 speakers from organizations including IBM Watson, Amazon Web Services, and NVIDIA. The 2019 Conference sold out 550 tickets and hosted 60 speakers. “This year will be new for us in so many ways - bigger speakers, bigger reach, and hopefully a much bigger impact.”

 This year’s content is divided into five themed afternoons: a Workforce Development Forum on Thursday, October 1st; Our Planet and Beyond, focusing on precision agriculture and geospatial technologies on Wednesday October 7th; Health & Wellbeing on Wednesday October 14th; AI@Work&Home on Wednesday October 21st; and Societal Implications & Ethical Impact on Thursday, October 28th, 6 days before the national election.

 About is a St. Louis-based 501c3 whose mission is to increase collaboration around 4th-industrial revolution technologies in order to advance the human experience. Prepare operates from the heart of the Midwest, where the 1st- and 2nd-industrial revolutions brought growth and innovation, and where the 3rd eroded jobs and urban landscapes. This time, we will not be left behind. We will lead, not follow.

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