NEO Network is a growing community of organizations advancing reliable and cost-effective renewable energy and cleantech solutions around the world.
A key pillar of this community are the annual NEO Network Conclave gatherings. We wrapped both our successful U.S. and European events in April. To learn more about Conclave, why attendees enjoyed it and how connections made at the event help move the renewable energy market forward, we sat down for a quick conversation with Jim Stanway, Global Manager of the NEO Network.
Tell us about trends you’re seeing in the global energy market and how those came to life at Conclave.
Jim: Companies are eager and ready to roll up their sleeves on renewable energy. Our members were engaged in each session and excited to learn how to set their goals in motion. There are bountiful opportunities for companies interested in buying renewable energy – cleantech is expanding in geographic markets like Europe and Asia Pacific, green energy is reaching price parity with traditional sources of power, and more options and technologies are coming online all the time. If Conclave tells us one thing, it’s that corporations are ready to dig in, learn more and make real progress toward their sustainability and cleantech goals.
We know that Conclave hosts some of the most experienced renewable energy buyers. Tell us how Conclave serves the needs of these advanced buyers?
Conclave attendees come prepared to take actionable steps – and that includes advanced buyers. These experienced energy and sustainability professionals come to Conclave for its leading-edge content and solutions that push them beyond the status quo.
In Europe, we had many clients interested in procuring renewables in markets where it is challenging to source them. This is still a developing topic in the industry, so it challenged our experts to facilitate market-moving discussions. It also made for engaging conversation between advisors, corporate buyers, and developers—the latter of which are key contributors at Conclave. I think I speak for many of the experts in the room when I say that it truly felt like we witnessed market disruption taking place in real time during these sessions.
In addition to these more advanced buyers, we also hosted many companies who are brand new to the renewable energy space and who had a lot of questions about getting started. Some of them were so new that they have not yet even set any goals.
So, it sounds like the NEO Network is comprised of a diverse group of corporate buyers. How did you shape an agenda that helped both advanced buyers and new-to-the-market buyers get what they needed from the event? How did you strike this balance?
Since we have an existing relationship with our attendees via the NEO Network, we understand our audience and where they are on their buying journey. That allows us to tailor the agenda to their specific needs. We also have a great pulse on what’s happening in the industry, which helps us shape the most cutting-edge content. We know that every company is unique and for this reason, we keep the agenda flexible and seek input from those who register, because we want it to be an event that best serves the corporate buyers in the room.
The content at both events this year was complex, but the intimate setting also fostered an environment where it’s safe to be a beginner. The topics were designed to get everyone engaged and thinking deeply and creatively about solving their challenges to meet their goals – no matter their level of experience. Attendees play a huge role by sharing their most pressing obstacles, which allows for productive conversations, cross-company collaboration, and actionable takeaways.
Now, let’s get to the fun part. What was the tone of the room? Do you feel like attendees enjoy themselves?
One of the best parts of Conclave is the fun. The European event took place in Paris, France and we hosted a team-building cooking class where attendees came together to prepare a delicious Parisian dinner. At the U.S. event in Louisville, Kentucky, where bourbon is a cornerstone of culture, we visited a distillery and the team got exclusive access to their unreleased samples. We’re always learning new things at Conclave, even if it’s not in energy. People enjoy that.
Attendees keep returning to this event year after year. What is so special about Conclave that keeps them coming back?
Community, community, community. We’ve now hosted three Conclaves in the U.S., two in Europe, and two smaller events in Australia, and we’ve had a fair share of return attendees at each event. Companies get to know each other through the NEO Network and enjoy reconnecting and catching up on progress their organizations have made since last event.
In addition to leading-edge agenda topics, people are also interested in learning from each other. Buyers share ideas with their peers to help propel the industry forward. Because Conclave brings together attendees with a wide spectrum of experience, many are experts in their own right. We intentionally build in time for networking and team-building so attendees not only hear from our resident experts, but also get to workshop with one another.
The NEO Network community is gaining traction. Our events have grown every year, and we will also be hosting more Conclaves in more geographies in the future, including a full Conclave event in Australia later this year. If your business has operations down under, keep an eye out for future communications regarding this plan in the works.
If you missed out on Conclave this year, it’s not too late to plan for the future! You can join the community, today, by going to NEONetworkExchange.com. Membership is complimentary for all commercial & industrial companies, and includes access to our community, resources, and events like Conclave and other member-only dinners and workshops.