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New for 2017 (updated): Dispatches’ list of Europe’s best startup and tech events

(Editor’s note: This running list of Europe’s best tech and startup events will be updated throughout 2017.)

Dispatches Europe is all about global mobility of talent, and we believe in the value of all the collaborations that can come out of the collisions of creative people at tech/startup events.

So we decided it was high time for Dispatches’ 2017 list of best startup and tech events across Europe.

And yes, we’re having a hell of a time keeping up with all the new events ….

The question we hear increasingly is, “Are these things worth the time and money?” The answer is, “Sometimes.” We were part of HighTechXL’s Impact Summit last month, and it was amazing because we saw a level of sophistication missing in a lot of innovation centers.

Is this true everywhere? Probably not. But we hope we’ve listed some events that might benefit your startup/scale up and your career in general.

This being Europe, the pace has slowed this month (yes, even startups here take vacations!). But now it’s almost time to get back to work ….

We have a whole bunch of links to events later this year at the end of the post, so don’t miss that if you’re a planner. And check out the Nordic Startup Awards Grand Finale info.

Also, send us the details on your event to and we’ll get it posted ASAP.

DLD Tel Aviv Innovation Festival, 3 – 7 September

Is Israel in Europe? Ah, no.

BUT, if you ask big companies where they look to partner with the best startup talent, the answer increasingly is “Tel Aviv.” Just ask Rogier van Beugen at KLM. So, this is a “if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere” proposition.

DLD Tel Aviv Innovation Festival is about “boosting top technological talent, the highest venture capital investments per capital and multi national centers for industry leaders such as Amazon, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, EMC, Microsoft, GM, Amdocs, SAP, Applied Materials, Facebook, Orange, Cisco Israel etc.,” according to the event website.

This is sort of an al a carte festival, where you can apply to attend the events relevant to you. For example, there’s a startup pitching event on 7 September, as well as a Pitch the Press event. There’s a digital conference on 6 and 7 September. There’s also a free accelerator blitz on the 6th.

Several speakers from big companies are listed including Reggie Bradford from Oracle, Christoph Schlude from Porsche and David Sable from Young & Rubicam.

The Tel Aviv Innovation Festival website is right out of 2005, but it is pretty complete and straightforward compared to a lot of the cutting-edge websites that tell you absolutely nothing.

You can apply here.

The Conference 2017, 4 & 5 September in  Malmo, Sweden

Last year, this was the rare August startup/tech event for those of us who hate going on vacation. For 2017, it’s moved to September.

This is a trends-in-digital conference with 30 speakers. The main themes will be human behavior, new technology and how to make it happen.

“On stage you can expect everything from brain scientists and activists to design experts and other cool makers who’ll cover topics like AI, psychology, art, marketing and so on,” according to the website.

Announced speakers include Alexander Chen from Google Creative Labs and Muneeb Ali from Blockstack, which is trying to build a fairer Internet. And speaking of fair, this is a non-profit conference, with all the proceeds going to make it better each year.

Tickets start at 720 euros, and you can get them here.

TOP 100 Swiss Startup Award 2017, 6 September in Zurich-Schlieren

Increasingly, with its great technical universities and plenty of capital, Switzerland is becoming a player in deep tech. Venturelab is the power behind this award event, which is meant to link promising startups to big corporations.

For the seventh year, 100 experts have chosen the most promising startups with the highest growth potential, according to the event website. With their innovative approaches, the startups not only amaze their customers, but also industry experts.

Venturelab started 2004 as a national startup training program, and has since then conducted 202 entrepreneurship events with more than 23,000 participants from Swiss universities and organized 3,225 workshop modules to train innovative startup projects.

You can apply here for the event via LinkedIn.

Pirate Summit, 6 & 7 September in Cologne, Germany

There are smart conferences. There are innovative conferences. Now, for the “craziest” startup conference.

The Pirate Summit bills itself as “Europe’s largest invitation-only conference for early-stage startups, investors and corporate executives,” representing true grassroots entrepreneurship: “authentic, crazy & real.”

Despite the wild-and-crazy pitch, Captain Jack Sparrow will not be there, though Visa, KMPG, SAP and other multinationals will be. The element that makes Pirate Summit unique is that 70 countries are represented in its curated crowd. That and its self-conscious yearning to be funky. If Gwenyth Paltrow did startup summits ….

From the website: 

The best clubs in the world have the best bouncers. We have very good bouncers. Pirate Summit is mainly designed for early-stage founders and investors – no exceptions made.

Wow, weird ….

Speakers haven’t been announced, yet.

Tickets start at 275 euros for startups, matey. But you can apply for the “Walk the Plank” pitch competition and get free tickets if selected.

You can apply to attend Pirate Summit 2017 here.

• InteliSys 2017, 7 & 8 September, London

Clearly, the UK wants to disassociate itself from Europe. So we recommend fewer events in London. But the truth is, if you’re working in artificial intelligence, London is the place to be. Intelligent Systems Conference 2017 will focus on areas of intelligent systems and artificial intelligence (AI) and how they apply to the real world, according to the event website.

Conference tracks include AI, robotics, machine learning and security.

This is NOT a party. There will be no movie stars, celebrities or digital icons prowling a stage TEDtalk style. This is mostly professors and researchers from some of the top AI programs in the world who have “Dr.” in front of their names, with credentials from the University of Kent, MIT, Princeton and CERN.

They include:

• Nuria Oliver, director of research in data science, Vodafone

• Valentina Salapura from IBM T.J. Watson Research Center

• Mark Harman, an engineering manager at Facebook

• Frank Wang, University of Kent

Despite the lack of big names and global tech stars, InteliSys is NOT inexpensive.

Tickets start at 400 pounds for students, and you can register here.

SaaStock, 18 – 20 September, Dublin

As Marc Andreessen so famously noted, software is eating the world. This is billed as one of the biggest gathering of software-as-a-service players (founders, executives and investors) in Europe. SaaStock 2017 is a place where global SaaS companies of all stages can meet and network.

This is so far outside our field of expertise that we don’t really recognize the speakers or the companies they work for.

Girish Mathrubootham from Freshdesk? We’re assuming he’s the Gary Vaynerchuk of the Saas world.

You can see the list here.

This is another event that’s waaaay too expensive for startups. But for those lucky software engineers, developers and coders working for big corporations, tickets start at 800 euros for the early birds.

You can buy tickets here.

Next Conference, 21 & 22 September, Hamburg, Germany

There’s a certain sameness to most of these startup/tech conferences. Speakers, seminars, networking and pitches. But Next Conference is a little different in that the theme this year is “Digital Sucks,” a contrarian look at digital that either never quite lives up to its promise, or wrecks the world with what seemed like good ideas.

From the Next website:

Take for example Twitter. For a while, it looked promising. But then we got Trump. We enjoyed our Uber rides, only to witness a full-blown meltdown. Or think Internet of Things. We hoped for a future of connected devices, but what we’re experiencing instead are massive botnets that take down large parts of the internet and lightbulbs that are vulnerable to virus attacks.

Still, we’re never going back to analog, so get ready for the future here.

Re•Work, London, 21 & 22 September, London

Re•Work, the all-women group that puts on tech conferences in tech centers around the globe, is bringing two machine learning/AI events to London 21 September and 22 September.

AI Assistant Summit will look at how harnessing ML/AI will allow verticals such as e-Commerce to create more personalized one-to-one customer experiences.

The Deep Learning Summit will explore how software will recognize patterns in digital representations of sound, images and data.

Both summits are at the same place at the same time.

Speakers include Shubho Senguta from Facebook AI Research,

How smart are these people? Here’s the bio for Jörg Bornschein from DeepMind, a London-based artificial intelligence research firm.

Jörg obtained his PhD from the University of Frankfurt working on large scale bayesian inference for non-linear sparse coding with a focus on building maintainable and massive parallel implementations for HPC clusters.

Topics include deep learning, predictive intelligence, chatbots, AI assistants and anticipatory computing.

Startup passes start at 395 pounds and you can get them here.

Bits & Pretzels, The Founders Festival, 24 – 26 Sept. in Munich

We hear more about this festival than any other. “The new event we’re putting together is sort of like Bits & Pretzels, but for (fill in the blank.)”

So what is Bits & Pretzels? It’s a 3-day founders festival connecting 5,000 startup enthusiasts (tickets are limited to 5,000) to the founders of Virgin, Airbnb, Evernote or Zendesk, according to the website.

Oh, and throw in Kevin Spacey. (It’s the trend these days, adding actors and musicians.)

Bits & Pretzels creates unique networking around Munich Oktoberfest and encourages meaningful relationships between founders, investors and the media.

Basically, you have to apply to attend, and if you’re accepted, you find out wether you have to sell your first-born child to get a ticket.

You can apply here.

IT Arena, 29 September to 1 October, Lviv, Ukraine

Get ready for the event that bills itself as the “biggest IT event in Eastern Europe.”  Increasingly, Eastern Europe is the place to go for coding and development talent.

Inspiring speakers, networking and entertainment … IT Arena follows the tried-and-true formula of the startup/tech events.

Speakers include Samar Singla from Jugnoo, which is Uber and Deliveroo all rolled into one, and Julian Simon from Amazon Web Services.

Tickets start at the equivalent of 150 euros, and you can get them here.

Startup Festival Europe, 25 – 28 September, Amsterdam

Of all the events on our list, Startup Festival Europe just spells out what most startups are looking for:

Startup Fest Europe is all about raising money, making deals, scaling your business, and changing the world.

To make things interesting, Startup Festival has several concurrent events grouped by vertical at different locations around the Netherlands, most notably Amsterdam Capital Week. Also, there’s  New Materials for Building a Sustainable World in Rotterdam, Blockchain in Den Haag and Digital Health in Utrecht.

So this is a mega-week as these things tend to be. The cool part is, a lot of top-notch tech players generally attend including Eric Schmidt, the Alphabet/Google head honcho, and Tim Cook, the guy who took over Apple after Jobs.

That said, instead of Dutch startup stars, Startup Festival tends to trot out Dutch royalty and pols out for this thing.  Jeez, Louise ….

There’s one big challenge so far. BMW is looking for innovative technology, product or service in mobility-related products, services or business models. Apply here by Friday, 1 September.

Get your tickets here.

Oslo Innovation Week, 25 -29 September

Oslo Innovation Week sets the agenda for business solutions to UN’s Sustainability Development Goals. This is Scandinavia, so collaboration and cooperation are the way things work.

OIW brings together speakers, experts, entrepreneurs, investors, startups and innovators from around the globe, and challenge them to solve problems, collaborate and drive sustainable change.

And is it just us, or is the lineup of speakers mostly chosen out of Vogue magazine? Which isn’t exactly our experience in the startup world.

Looks like you just sign up for the events you want to attend and show up. Easy, peasy.

Chatbot Conference 2017, 2 & 3 October in Vienna

Only the hottest tech category going in 2017. Announced speakers so far are from Slack and Titter. Previous speakers were from Google, Facebook and Viber. Tickets start at 58 euros for students. Speakers announced so far include Helen Tsang, engineer manager at Facebook Messenger, and Uket Tammet from Transerwise.

Tickets start at about 60 euros, go to 250 euros and you can get them here.  A starup booth is 800 euros.

South Summit, 4 – 6 October in Madrid

Spain Startup was founded in 2012, amidst the economic crisis, as a joint initiative with IE Business School with the conviction that entrepreneurs were the driving force to reactivate the economy. In three years, South Summit has become the worldwide reference as leading event around innovation, with more than 12,500 attendees from more than 100 nationalities last year.

Speakers this year including Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon, Johannes Bruder from Rocket Internet, Shazam co-founder Dhiraj Mukherjee and Carolina Brochado, partner at Atomico, the investment firm started by Skype founders.

Limited access “Disrupter” tickets go for as little as 95 euros, and you can get tickets here.

Nordic Startup Awards, Grand Finale, 18 October, Stockholm

This will be the night the top startup is named from the finalists in Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Denmark and Finland. As you might imagine considering the technology coming out of the Nordics, these will some impressive teams.

Finalists include Soundtrack Your Brand from Sweden, a business-to-business music concept and Next Games, which is creating next-gen digital games.

There’s a networking event, an invitation-only gala and after party. You can sign up for the networking here.

You can sign up for the after party here.

Coming up later this year (all events are in English):

World Summit AI, 11 & 12 October in Amsterdam: World Summit AI brings together the four pillars of AI System – enterprise, startups, investors and deep tech.

Women in Tech Conference, 8 & 9 November in Amsterdam. You can bet this will be a hot one coming not too long after former Google engineer James Damore got fired for arguing that women are neither smart enough nor tough enough to work in tech. Somehow, we suspect Women in Tech will return fire  in this opening battle of American conservatives’ new anti-equality war on the politics of tech.

Websummit 20176-9 November in Lisbon. This is huge … serious entrepreneurs and CEOs. There were 53,000 people last year from 15,000 companies in 166 countries after Websummit moved to sunny Lisbon from not sunny Dublin.

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2017, 13 – 19 November around the world. During one week each November, thousands of events and competitions in 160 countries inspire millions to engage in entrepreneurial activity while connecting them to potential collaborators, mentors and even investors. Powered by the Kauffman Foundation, the initiative is supported by dozens of world leaders and a network of more than 15,000 partner organizations.

Slush 2017, 30 November – 1 December in Helsinki. Yeah, it’s freezing cold in Helsinki in the winter (hence the name “Slush”). But last year, more than 2,300 startups, 1,100 venture capitalists, and 600 journalists from over 120 countries came to Slush to drive business, and to experience the phenomenal atmosphere.

Dutch Open Hackathon, 9 – 11 December in Rotterdam. This event is sponsored by KLM/Air France.


Latitude 59, May 24 – 25, 2018 in Tallinn, Estonia: Latitude 59 is the flagship startup/tech event of the world’s first digital society. In its 10th year, Latitude59 has developed into an event where innovators and startup entrepreneurs can meet investors and potential partners. The boutique event attracts around 1,500 participants spanning from Finland to Ukraine, and investors from across the globe. More a serious event, less a party.

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