About TEDxDetroit

Burning questions answered and deep secrets revealed

TEDxDetroit is an independently organized TED event.

The first TED idea conference was held in California in 1984. Originally, TED was an acronym for technology, entertainment, and design – three fields that spur innovation across the economy. Today, TED attracts leading thinkers and doers from a wide range of fields around the globe to its annual five-day conference in Vancouver.

TEDx brings the spirit of TED’s mission of ideas worth spreading to local communities around the globe. The TEDx program began in 2009. TEDxDetroit is among the oldest and largest TEDx events worldwide.

Here’s a quick look at TED, TEDx, and TEDxDetroit. Scroll down further for answers to frequently asked questions.

What is TEDxDetroit?

“Ideas, innovations, and inspiration,” TEDxDetroit is equal parts business conference, tech expo, and arts festival. The annual, one-day event celebrates what’s working and what’s next by shinning a light on the people who are creating the future. TEDxDetroit features live TEDtalks, hands-on exhibits in TEDxLabs, TED videos, visual arts, music performances and more. It’s all designed to spark innovative ideas, foster collaboration, and inspire creativity.

Since 2009, TEDxDetroit has featured more than 250 doctors, filmmakers, educators, engineers, poets and other game changers on-stage. This year, 4,000 professionals and students from around the Great Lakes will come together to stretch the boundaries of what is possible.

Past TEDxDetroit speakers have included Pixar director Jim Murphy, NASA planetary scientist Cathy Olkin, graphic designer Aaron Draplin, and ESPN anchor Jemele Hill plus the founder of Baby Einstein, Forbes woman of the year, the inventor of a blade-less wind turbine, two college students who teach app development to teens in juvenile detention, and a 7-year old who started a lemonade stand that raised thousands for charity.

Learn more at TEDxDetroit.com

Connect with TEDxDetroit on your favorite social network.

What is TEDx?

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TED Talks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection.

These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized subject to rules and regulations.

Since 2009, there have been over 30,000 TEDx events held in more than 150 countries. Talks from these events have garnered more than 3.5 billion views on the TEDx YouTube channel.

Learn more at TEDx.com

Connect with TEDx on your favorite social network.

What is TED?

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or fewer) delivered by today’s leading thinkers and doers. Many of these talks are given at TED’s annual conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, and made available, free, on TED.com. TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Sal Khan and Daniel Kahneman.

TED’s open and free initiatives for spreading ideas include TED.com, where new TED Talk videos are posted daily; the TED Translators Program, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as translations from thousands of volunteers worldwide; the educational initiative TED-Ed; the annual million-dollar TED Prize, which funds exceptional individuals with a “wish,” or idea, to create change in the world; TEDx, which provides licenses to thousands of individuals and groups who host local, self-organized TED-style events around the world; and the TED Fellows, which selects innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.

Learn more at TED.com

Connect with TED on your favorite social network.

Click on a question to reveal the answer.

Details coming soon


Cool people. Interesting people. People at the top of their game. People just starting out. People who’ve done it all and wrote the book. It’s a mix of speakers you won’t see anywhere else. We’ll be announcing members of our top-shelf line-up as we get closer to the event.

Maybe. Do you have an idea worth spreading? Is it remarkable? Will it entertain, inspire and inform us all at the same time? There are no canned pitches at TEDxDetroit. Leave your boring powerpoint at home. Watch a few TEDtalks BEFORE you consider reaching out to us. This is NOT your average conference. 

We’re planning to bring back speaker applications for our 2021 event. Watch for details spring 2021.

Yes! Help support ideas, innovation, entrepreneurialism and inspiration in Detroit (and get your brand in front of a lot of brilliant thinkers and doers). Please contact Charlie Wollborg for information on becoming a TEDxDetroit sponsor.

We always need volunteers for our live events, but with this year’s event being virtual, we will not have a big volunteer team.

We’d still love your help spreading the word about TEDxDetroit. Please post about this year’s free, virtual event on your favorite social networks.

We’re proud of our annual education program that has sent thousands of students and educators to TEDxDetroit for free over the past decade. We hope to continue the program for next year’s live event. Students and educators are welcome to register for this year’s free, virtual event on the TEDxDetroit home page.

This independent TEDx event is operated under license from TED. The event is being produced locally by a large team of volunteers. Learn more about the TEDxDetroit Board of Directors on our Producers Page.

First of all, thank you for supporting TEDxDetroit. This inspiring event doesn’t happen without the support of people like you.

Since this year’s virtual show is now free, you have two options:

  • Keep your ticket and bring a friend for free next year. We’ll honor all TEDxDetroit 2020 tickets as a 2-for-1 for the TEDxDetroit 2021 live event.
  • Request a refund. Email Charlie and we’ll get the process started to refund your ticket.