NeurIPS budget made transparent

In an attempt to make the funding situation of the NeurIPS conference more transparent to the community, we decided to put an overview over income and expenses on this webpage. As the budget can only be finalized once the conference is over, we present the budget of last year’s conference, and will continue to do so in the following years.

NeurIPS has two main sources of income: registration fees and sponsorship money. The budget for the 2019 conference in Vancouver was around \$9M, with \$5.3M from registration and \$3.7M from sponsors.

Conference expenses are in four major categories and initiatives: 

  • The scientific conference (tutorials, conference, workshops)

  • The EXPO: In response to requests from industry to showcase their research, from researchers who were interested in learning more about industrial research, and from researchers who would like to partly separate the scientific and the industrial program, NeurIPS introduced an EXPO in 2018. 

  • Diversity and inclusion such as travel support, child care or support for affinity groups. For example in 2019, 40% of the support from sponsors were used to support travel grants and affinity groups, which include Women in Machine Learning, Black in AI, LatinX in AI, Queer in AI, Jews in ML.  In 2020 we continue to support these groups, for example through awards to subsidize internet connectivity.

  • Decentralization and streaming: Due to increasing concerns of the environmental footprint of NeurIPS, we started local meetups in 2019, which allowed participants to participate in a local version of the conference rather than traveling around the world. We were planning to expand in 2020 when Covid happened. This year NeurIPS will be entirely online.  This has put a major burden on the budget, but we were fortunate to have a financial buffer that allowed us to put in place platforms that will maintain the high quality of the presentations.

  • NeurIPS also supports other ML and AI organizations, such as the AI Hub, which brings awareness to the general public about opportunities and challenges related to artificial intelligence.  In addition to organizing the annual NeurIPS conference, workshops, tutorials and EXPO, the Neural Information Processing Systems Foundation also manages several other ML conferences, including ICML, ICLR and MLSys.

Savings: 

In general, a conference like NeurIPS needs considerable savings in order to be able to pay for all liabilities in case of conference cancellation.  Contracts with conference facilities and hotels have to be planned and signed up to 5 years in advance, generating considerable nonrefundable down payments. Without savings, cancellation of a physical meeting due to an unforeseen act of nature, such as the current crisis, could be catastrophic. As insurance, NeurIPS maintains reserves to survive the total loss of a meeting.  This year (2020), we are fortunate to have a financial buffer that allows us to both cover our liabilities and put in place platforms that will maintain the high quality of the presentations. Each year we reconsider our savings, and as they grow, we spend them on new initiatives or lowering registration fees.

NeurIPS 2019 Budget in numbers

Income

  • Registration fees: $5.3M
  • Sponsors: $3.7M

Expenses 

Running the core conference and the scientific program: $3.4M

The core, scientific program of the conference is purely funded by registration fees and is independent of any sponsorship money.

  • Rent of the conference center, AV and poster boards 

  • Administrative and technical support, publicity

  • Food and Beverages during the conference

  • Invited speakers

  • Live streaming & closed captioning, sign language interpreters

Activities targeted towards industry: $1.1M

These are purely funded by sponsor money.

  • space and logistics for sponsor booths 

  • the EXPO

Diversity and inclusion support: $1.5M 

These activities are to a major extent funded by sponsor money, to a smaller amount by registration fees.

  • Travel support for students 

  • Child care

  • Diversity and inclusion activities: Travel support for diversity & inclusion; Affinity group meeting support (registration, AV, coffee breaks);  D&I consultant

Surplus

In 2019, our net surplus was $3M. About half this surplus was due to an increase in registrations by 30% from 2018. Much of this surplus will be spent down in 2020 by significantly lowering registration fees and expenses associated with virtualization.