POP announces programme for this year’s Inventor Conference

Published on: 9th November 2022

The People of Play Inventor Conference and pitches take place from 17th to 20th November in Chicago and will feature more than 80 toy and game companies.

Inventors are being invited to learn, pitch and network their way to success with some of the most recognisable brands in the toy and game industry at the People of Play’s Inventor Conference.

The conference and pitches are back in person this year with an extensive line-up of speakers and panels from both inside and outside the industry, plus the much anticipated Pub Night.

This year’s conference, sponsored by Mattel, Moose Games, Radio Flyer, Goliath and, will be held from November 17th-19th at the Embassy Suites by Hilton in the heart of Chicago on 600 North State Street.

The conference kicks off on 17th at 8.30am with Robert Fuhrer, Owner of Nextoy presenting a very special POP duo of Will Shortz, New York Times’ Crossword Editor and NPR’s Puzzle Master, and Josh Wardle, Inventor of Wordle.

Other highlights include:

  • A keynote on Breaking Innovation Barriers from Ted Curtin, executive vice president and chief innovation officer at ProdigyWorks
  • James Howard, executive director of the Black Inventors Hall of Fame (BIHOF) and executive producer of BIHOF Films.
  • Peyton Gulley, of Calm’s Content Acquisition & Development, shows how Calm is working with toy and game companies
  • Rachele Harmuth, head of ThinkFun’s division of Ravensburger, introduces new research about the mental health of kids after the pandemic and the importance of MESH (Mental & Emotional & Social Health) skills in toys and games
  • Tanner Yarro, president of Yarro Studios, shares his expertise on the Evolution of Crowdfunding and Social Media
  • T.J. Simmons, vice president of Sales: Specialty & Key Accounts at THiN AiR Brands, LLC and president of Astra’s Board of Directors talks about The Future of Retail
  • A panel of lawyers will discuss and answer questions about Intellectual Property Protection Now and in the Future (AI, NFTs and more)
  • plus more.

“After two years away, we can’t wait to welcome toy and game inventors from 18 countries around the world,” said Mary Couzin, president of People of Play. “If you have a product idea, you need to be in Chicago for this conference. We pride ourselves in creating the right environment so that new and professional inventors can learn from each other, make the right connections and move forward whether they have a winning idea or it is a stepping stone to the next one.”

A highlight of the conference is POP Pub Night and this year’s event, at Radio Flyer HQ on 17th November, will have some extra laughs during the comedic Roast of Matt Nuccio, president of Design Edge, by his peers. On that night, one lucky winner will  also walk away with a Flyer M880 Electric Cargo Bike from Radio Flyer.

Conference participants can choose from four tracks:

  • New Inventor/Innovation Track. Tickets available here.
  • Professional Inventor Track. Apply here.
  • Product Acquisition Executive. Apply here.
  • Design Student. Special student pricing available. Contact for more information.

Conference tickets also include The Toy & Game Innovation Awards (The TAGIEs) on 19th November  at 6pm, a gala celebrating the outstanding achievements by people in the toy and game industry. This year’s TAGIEs will be held at the Epiphany Center for the Arts.


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