You know your ecosystem has global clout when diplomats show up to invite you personally to one of the world’s biggest startup events of the year, the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2019 coming to Den Haag 4 and 5 June.
Steve Butler, counselor for Political and Economic Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Den Haag, was at the new High Tech Campus Eindhoven startup hub Wednesday night to pitch GES during a special edition of Drinks, Pitches and Demos, a monthly startup and networking event.
GES organizes annual global summits that bring together governments (in this case from the United States and the Netherlands), private-sector investors and corporate partners to identify and boost the best startups that already have some traction. These summits have become a big deal, attracting luminaries including Ivanka Trump, Indian President Narendra Modi and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg together with former President Barack Obama. Butler hinted that might be the case for 2019 but didn’t give away any names.
With the theme of “The Future Now,” this will be the first GES held in a European Union country, and the event will be open to startups, especially those working in artificial intelligence and robotics, blockchain, big data and advanced science.
The 2019 GES is focusing on five industry categories: Agriculture/food, connectivity, energy, health, and water.
What makes GES unique is the number and variety of investors that have committed, Butler said. “The focus is on investors. We’re talking real investors with real money!” They include all flavors of investors from early-stage angels to private equity, and include institutional investors, VCs and private equity, he said.
Many of those investors will be from China and other Asian countries as well as from the U.S.
There will also be 400 accredited journalists covering GES: “They want to hear about your company and get the word out internationally,” Butler told the crowd of about 100.
As you might suspect, this will be a pretty competitive arena, and GES is looking for companies ready to scale-up, Butler said. There will be 1,200 slots at GES for more than 5,000 startups that have applied so far. “You’re going to have to be good to make it,” he said.
Marquee U.S. and European companies such as Philips and TomTom from the Netherlands, along with institutional investors such as APG Asset Management and PGGM, the largest pension fund in the Netherlands, have committed to GES.
“This is the opportunity to do what the Netherlands does best … innovate,” Butler told the crowd.
GES 2019 programming includes:
- Curated matchmaking programs – connect and build meaningful, lasting partnerships with players that suit your business needs
- Solution labs – collaborate with peers and inspirers to re-invent business and tech in your sector
- Pitch stages – showcase your solution to top investors and decision makers
- Interactive sessions – make deals, ensure commitments and give input on regulations
- Secret sessions – meet mystery guests in small private sessions
- Skill-building sessions – keep learning and honing your creative and commercial skills
- In-depth discussions and panel sessions – co-design strategies to influence global policy and business trends
- Keynotes by thought leaders – get inspired by the greatest minds that pave the way
Okay, you can apply here, and of course, there’s no fee for startups.
Strictly speaking, the official entry deadline 23 March. But Butler assured the crowd that if your startup is worthy, they’ll find some way to get you in. AND organizers sent a special code to the Drinks, Pitches and Demo crowd. So there’s a life-lesson … don’t miss these events, with the next one coming up 7 April.
If you are legitimately part of an Eindhoven-based startup, or from the Brabant region, here’s the special code:
Click here to apply and use the endorsement code GESNLBRAINPORT
And by the way, last night’s event was sponsored by Brainport Eindhoven, the regional economic-development agency. And thanks to Brainport’s Fancy van de Vorst for providing the pizza.
About GES from the official website:
Initiated nearly a decade ago by the US Government, the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) is the preeminent annual gathering of entrepreneurs, innovators, investors, and thought leaders from around the world, providing a unique event that is a combination of an innovation marketplace and policy forum.
Co-CEO of Dispatches Europe. A former military reporter, I'm a serial expat who has lived in France, Turkey, Germany and the Netherlands.