FWD50 2018

November 7-9, 2018 | Ottawa

Building and scaling

In 2018, we announced our first advisory board, and built on our pilot event to expand the scale of the conference. We also reconfigured the conference around a circular stage when we launched Circlesquare.

Speakers came from as far afield as Taiwan, the UK, Estonia, Uruguay, Japan, and Amsterdam, and we tackled not only the deployment of technology but also its consequences on society and on resistance to change.

What others are saying

“Amazing work! Honestly, an incredible and uplifting event and you got the balance of everything just right. Well done!”

“I have rarely enjoyed an event as much as FWD50 – the organization, the energy, the participation, the entire concept, everything was brilliant! Connections were made, both on a professional and also on human level.”

“Easily one of the best conferences I've attended and a must-attend for anyone in public tech sector.”


Digital government isn’t business as usual, and neither is our venue. For a second year we transformed the iconic Aberdeen Pavillion in Lansdowne Park to encourage interaction and get attendees out of their comfort zone. We also switched up our floor plan to have a circular stage design for the launch of Circlesquare and to create a more engaging stage presence. 


Attendees gathered in Ottawa


Speakers from around the world


Sessions to choose from


Countries represented


Digital government leaders and experts from around the world gathered in Ottawa to explore the challenges and most promising opportunities that technology offers to policy-making, citizen engagement, infrastructure, and service delivery.

2018’s Speakers

Our faculty travelled from around the world and brought the latest insights in digital government to the FWD50 stage. Here's just a sample of 2018’s extraordinary speakers:

The Honourable Carla Qualtrough

Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, Government of Canada

The Right Honorable Lord Maude of Horsham

Former UK Cabinet Office Minister, 2010-2015, UK Prime Minister's Office & Cabinet Office

Audrey Tang

Digital Minister, Taiwan

Kristo Vaher

Chief Technology Officer, Republic of Estonia

Natalie Evans Harris

Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer, BrightHive Inc

James Delorme

President, First Sky Media Group

Melissa Hathaway

Distinguished Fellow, Centre for International Governance Innovation

Pia Andrews

Executive Director of Digital Government, Department of Finance, Services and Innovation, New South Wales Government, Australia


We introduced new interactive formats including Circlesquare, in-the-round talks, and meetups with the Rockerfeller Foundation, Code for Canada, and the Canadian Digital Service. We also delivered three days of workshops, breakouts, keynotes, and one-on-one meetings to tackle the challenges and opportunities within digital government.

Want to take a peek at 2018’s sessions? Check out the agenda!

2018 Agenda

Some of this year's innovations

We ask public servants to innovate and take risks, so we try to embody that ourselves. Each year, we experiment with new technologies and formats to improve attendee experience. Here’s what we tried in 2018.

Circular stage design

For the first time, we built a circular floor plan with an incredible 360-degree stage design for the launch of Circlesquare and to encourage an engaged, interactive audience.


Circlesquare is a choreographed dance of experts, ideas, and disruption. We surveyed people to find out critical technologies and domains, and created four concurrent half-hour discussions, four times over. This year saw discussions from digital identity and blockchain, to global trade and immigration.

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