(Editor’s note: This post on the best startup and tech events – part of our Tech Tuesdays series – will be updated through 2023 as we get new announcements. We cover the startup and tech scenes because Dispatches is dedicated to the highly skilled internationals who power economies across Europe.)
Everyone will be coming back to the world of innovation after the holidays, so, we’re pleased to tell you can look forward to heavy schedule of startup and tech events through 2023.
It’s easy to make fun of some of the more pompous and pointless events. But we go to multiple tech events each year, and some are amazing, with levels of sophistication missing in a lot of innovation centers, even in the United States. And yeah, some were meh. It’s up to you to figure out which are relevant and which are excuses to squeeze money out of startups that don’t have much.
What we’re not including this year are the invitation-only events with movie stars and non-tech celebrities, which are usually too expensive and too exclusive. More and more, these tech events are just big parties, but we’ve included a few where you can meet potential investors and people in your industry and learn from them.
Most of these are the first events since the COVID pandemic, so expect crowds. And all are significantly more expensive since our most recent list in 2020.
We started this list as a way to keep track ourselves of what’s going and to smarten up about the European scene. But it quickly attracted a significant audience across Europe. So we’ll do better at keeping it as up-to-date as possible.
Feel free to send us your events at: [email protected] And thanks to all of you who have sent/suggested events.
Latitude59, 24 May to 26 May, Tallinn, Estonia
This is one of the few events we always hear good things about from local startup teams. Promoters call Latitude59 the “flagship event for the first digital society,” which Estonia is. This is a sort of affordable event (149 euros for startups) that actually can put your team in front of investors. And this is one of the mega-events in the Baltics, with thousands of people pouring in.
Speakers announced so far include:
• Staffan Helgesson, partner at early stage VC Creandum.
• Sérgio Massano at Antler
• Nikita Andersson from Hummingbird Ventures.
• Timmu Töke from Ready Player Me, a a cross-game avatar platform used by thousands of companies, and Estonia’s 2022 founder of the year.
And by the way, did we mention there’s a 1 million euro pitch competition?
Arctic15, 1 & 2 June in Helsinki
Arctic15 bills itself as the world’s only value-led matchmaking startup conference. Which of course means focusing on impact and UNSDGs. This is a bit of an all things for all people event. The 15 tracks (hence the name) include Digital Health and AI. And yes, they really do put you in their dealroom with potential investors.
Speakers are from a number of venture firms including Atomico, Isomer Capital and Eight Roads Ventures. Oh, and the ex-princess of Luxembourg (and a former soldier) will be there. How she became an ex-princess is probably a pretty good story.
Kidding aside, this is a pretty solid event, organized by ArcticStartup, a startup media covering Nordics and Baltics since 2007. And it isn’t about the Silicon Valley rockstar mentality. Under “principles” (remember those?) it states that ArcticStartup does not believe in unicorns or “the rockstar mentality of startup entrepreneurs. Instead, we want to see real businesses that solve real problems.”
You can come participate by getting your startup ticket here for kind of a pricy 310 euros.
Money20/20 Europe, 6 thru 8 June, Amsterdam
No digital category is hotter than fintech, and with Adyen and other scale-ups, Amsterdam is a fintech innovation hub. No better place for one of the global Money20/20 events.
Money20/20 Europe promises to connect you to “fintech’s boldest and brightest voices,” shaping what comes next for the money ecosystem in Europe.
• Valentin Stalf, co-founder of N26
• Keily Blair, COO at OnlyFans
• Stripe co-founder John Collison
• Charlotte Hogg, VISA’s CEO for Europe
• Deutsche Bank’s head of technology and innovation Bernd Leukert
• Tui Allen of Shopify
We could go on and on because there are about a million speakers. Well, more than 350, according to the website. So, that’s like a speaker every 30 minutes for three days, and a speaker-to-attendee ratio of about 1 to 6.
This is a trés expensive event, with tickets prices starting about 675 euros and going to about 2,300 euros. You can get yours here.
South Summit Madrid, 7 thru 9 June in Madrid
South Summit Madrid is part of a network of six events in Spain, Brazil, Mexico and Columbia, an organization that’s celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.
This 3-day event in Madrid will be look at 2030 and all the success we’ve made in battling climate change by then. (From their lips to God’s ear.) If we had to describe this event, we’d say this is a great place to meet potential investors.
Featured speakers this year include several VCs from smallish Europe-based and American funds such as Elaia Partners in Paris and Wisdom Ventures in San Francisco, as well as representatives of incubators accelerators and venture builders such as CanopyLAB in Copenhagen. But there’s nothing smallish about the event itself, with 15,000 people last year.
Tickets start at 159 euros and you can get them here.
London Tech Week, 12 thru 16 June
Just you and 19,999 other attendees at this week-long event, one of the biggest events in the world, much less London.
“Shaping the Future” is the theme, and London Tech Week promises 300 speakers for 2023, a diverse group including investors and venture builders.
• David Hickson, part of the Founders Factory founding team.
• Irena Spazzapan, managing partner at Systemiq Capital, the climate-tech VC spin-off from climate advisory firm Systemiq.
• Natasha Lytton, a drector at Seedcamp, a leading European seed fund.
• JF Gauthier from Startup Genome.
•representatives from Google, Microsoft, Klarna and a bunch of big companies.
• a bunch of bankers and consultants from Accenture and other firms.
There were several speakers scheduled from Silicon Valley Bank, but, ah, maybe not.
Like a lot of big events, you have to apply for passes, and you can do that here.
European Women in Technology 2023, 28 & 29 June in Amsterdam
Women aren’t good at STEM, right?
As events all across Europe prove. This relatively new event’s slogan is, “be known as a champion for women in tech,” meant to help your company improve both its talent base and its diversity.
It promises 160 speakers and 120 expert-led sessions. Speakers include women in tech and sustainability from Formula E, Novartis, IBM, MongoDB, ASML and E.ON.
Tickets start at 199 euros and you can get your ticket here.
Webit.Festival Europe, 28 & 29 June in Sofia
Billed as “a gathering of open-minded people who want to change the world,” Webit events are part industry show, part tech event and part European Union policy summit. The main event in Sofia is probably the largest EU-blessed tech event (Mariya Gabriel, EU commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society holds forth) and certainly the largest in Eastern Europe. Webit and most of the EU events are the opposite of the private-sector U.S. approach – government officials trying to lay out a centrally planned vision for where Europe should be going.
So far, no worlds have been changed, but you never know, right?
This is an event heavy with general secretaries and plenary chairs and even the prime minister of that digital disrupter Turkey. But the corporates aren’t stupid … there are also top executives from U.S.companies such as Salesforce and Cisco. Because again, you never know, right?
The next event is the Founders Game in Davos on 17 January, 2023. It’s invitation only, and you can apply here.
Viva Technology, 14 thru 17 June in Paris
Okay, we know all about Hello Tomorrow above. Let’s look at Viva Tech, which is one of the majors, with 100,000 attendees, thousands of VCs and the biggest names in tech as part speakers including Zuck, Satya Nadella from Microsoft and Ginni Rometty from IBM.
The VT pitch is that you’ll meet the people who can fund your startup, or maybe the talent you lack. But the truth is, unless you have the next Apple or Salesforce, you might get lost in the crowd.
That said, the opportunities are real, with:
• Office Hours, face time with VCs
• Scaleup Lounge, with one-on-one coaching
• Mentor Lounge, with guidance from people who’ve been where you want to go.
This is definitely the Big Time for those who are ready and have the cash to pay for transportation well as a place to stay.
hub. berlin, 28 and 29 June
This is a “cool new stuff” gathering with workshops and demonstrations for emerging tech/digital transformation.
The initial list of speakers include:
• Ronan Harris from Snap, inc., which was founded by Evan Speigel of SnapChat.
• free2move founder Oliver Mackprang
• Jasmin Hasel, VP of special effects company Scanline VFX.
Standard tickets start at 300 euros and you can get yours here.
BlockDown Festival, 10 thru 12 July in Vilamoura, Portugal
BlockDown, which bills itself as the first Web3 festival, was established in the spring of 2020 to bring the blockchain and crypto ecosystems together. The next stop is Portugal’s Algarve coast on the far southern edge of Portugal.
The festival will bring together key leaders in Web3 and the creator economy, with a focus on creative industries including music, the Metaverse, fashion, entertainment, sports, gaming and art. Are we huge crypto fans? Ahhhh, no. But if a16z has taken a significant position in crypto, who are we to poo-poo it?
BlockDown Festival will be hosted at the Lick venue, Vilamoura, which is the largest outdoor entertainment area in the Algarve region. So there is that … and this is one of the rare events during July, typically when these things take a break.
You can get tickets here starting at 349 euros.
Bits & Pretzels Founders Festival, 24 thru 26 September in Munich
Bits & Pretzels is the first big gathering after the summer break. It’s also the celebrity tech festival, with a whole lot of people who have absolutely nothing to do with tech (Barack Obama, Arnold Schwarzenegger) appearing in past years, as well as a fair number of people you really should know including seriously flush VCs.
No Arnold or Barack for 2023, but Simon Schmincke, a GP at venture capital firm Creandum is on the list along with UiPath co-founder Daniel Dines and Nathan Blecharczyk, Airbnb co-founder. Oh, and the final day segues into Oktoberfest.
This is a crazy expensive event and you have to apply to attend, which you can do here.
AI & Big Data Expo, 26 & 27 September in Amsterdam
What’s hotter than artificial intelligence. We dunno … let’s ask ChatGPT. “Nothing.” How do you even know if this wasn’t written by some chatbot? Okay, it wasn’t, but that’s the shape of our world these days.
AI is evolving and advancing every minute of every day. Humans, not so much. So, this is your chance to catch up with new capabilities and applications. A projected 6,000 attendees from across Europe are expected including CTO’s, heads of innovation and technology, IT directors, telecom providers, developers, startups and VCs etc.
Speakers this year include:
• Sanchit Juneja, the machine learning/data scientist human at Booking.com.
• Haider Alleg from Swiss VC Allegory Capital.
• A “senior representative from analytics company Elsevier.
This is mostly a Dutch event, but like all Dutch events, it will be in English.
You can get tickets here, and it appears you can apply as a sentient being for free tickets.
You can see more of Dispatches startup and tech coverage here.
Co-CEO of Dispatches Europe. A former military reporter, I'm a serial expat who has lived in France, Turkey, Germany and the Netherlands.