Why You Need to be at the Innovation By Design Summit

Whether you work at a startup, a larger corporation or are just looking to be inspired, you’ll want to clear your schedule for Innovation By Design Summit September 27-28 at St. Louis Union Station.

Powered by Maritz, the Innovation by Design Summit is a two-day event harnessing work done by The Maritz Institute, which focuses on applied human sciences to to design better programming for clients.

It’s a celebration of the intersection of innovation and behavioral design. Think less conference, more immersive experience—something both startups and corporate innovators can appreciate.


“From a corporation’s perspective, we always have our noses in our laptops focusing on the day-to-day and it’s very difficult to to find a platform to be inspired and connect with your peers on a deeper level,” says Tracie Gildehaus, senior director insights and innovation of The Maritz Institute.

“Corporations and entrepreneurs are intersecting at all of these different points, and that’s what we’re looking to push further.”


This is the fourth year the company has organized an innovation event, but this is the first year it’s going big in a public way. Years 1-3 were designed to be internal innovation symposiums for Maritz employees and clients. But, as the event grew and expanded into the startup community—the Capital Innovators/Maritz partnership actually came out of connections from this event—the team at Maritz knew they needed to scale, not just for themselves, but for the St. Louis region.

“When you think about innovation events in general, the first thing that comes to mind is boy, I have to pack my bags and travel to New York for TechCrunch, or Austin for SXSW, or San Francisco, but what’s going on in the Midwest?” says Gildehaus.

“We thought, what if we created an event that was very much focused on regional revitalization, really bringing together all of these corporate innovators, intersecting that with behavioral design. It’s a gap in our market and a huge opportunity for everyone in the area.”

Here’s six reasons you need to be there:

The Industry Talks

Think less PowerPoint, more Algonquin Roundtables, where people in the same industry can come together in a casual environment to chat about certain issues or topics within their field.

Innovation Safaris

Miss the days of field trips? You’re in luck. Rather than hearing about interesting technology, products or concepts, Innovation Safaris will let you experience for yourself what creative people are doing to innovate.

Brain Dates

“When you go to an event, you want to network but you also want to deepen that relationship so after you leave you actually follow up with that connection, rather than do what we all tend to do, get the business card and never see them again,” says Gildehaus.

To curb this issue, the Innovation by Design Summit is facilitating “Brain Dates” where people who want to expand on a topic further can sign up and connect at any point in the conference in a relaxed lounge setting or virtually via the Bonfyre app, deepening conversations and connections in the moment rather than through stiff email exchanges weeks later.

A Scientific Happy Hour

Yes, a lot of conferences and events have happy hours, but how many of them have molecular cocktails to sip on?

The Speakers

In previous years, Maritz brought in leaders in innovation and creativity to speak and the Innovation by Design Summit is no different. Headlining the event is Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, who will speak to the intersection of innovation and behavioral design.

Also on the list this year is Wendy De La Rosa: CEO Irrational Labs, Dan Ariely, Professor of Psycology and Behavior Economics at Duke, and Jeremy Gutsche CEO of TrendHunter. So yeah, you won’t want to miss any of them.

Applying Your Inspiration

Just like the connections you make at events, the ideas and inspiration you get from typical conferences can easily be set aside once you leave. At the Innovation by Design Summit, you can apply your new-found knowledge right away through hands-on work.

The event also has an innovative social good component called Social Hackathon, where corporate innovators can tackle an issue specific to the St. Louis community to make positive changes.

Mentioned in this Article

Mary writes for EQ and previously contributed to ALIVE Magazine and worked in the digital marketing field as an account manager. A central Illinois native, she got her news-editorial journalism degree from the University of Illinois and then moved to St. Louis so she wouldn’t have to be around as many Cubs fans. Then she married one.