New for 2018: Dispatches’ list of Europe’s best startup and tech events

We finally ran through 2017 for Dispatches’ inaugural list of Europe’s best startup and tech events.

So as promised, here’s the first 2018 events to take you into the first weeks of the new year.

And what a year it promises to be as there are conferences, summits and meetups scheduled almost every week across Europe from Portugal to Ukraine, with some now running multiple simultaneous events.

As we posted last year, the question we hear increasingly as events multiply like rabbits and startup fever plateaus with investors is, “Are these things worth the time and money?” The answer is, “Sometimes.”

We were part of HighTechXL’s Impact Summit last year and it was amazing because we saw a level of sophistication missing in a lot of innovation centers, even in the U.S.

What we’re not including this year are the invitation-only events such as DLD, which we find too celebrity-oriented (Kevin Spacey at tech conferences? Why?), too expensive and too exclusive.

We started this list almost 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 try to do better at keeping it as up-to-date as possible.

We promise.

And feel free to send us your events at:

#FC Bayern Hackdays, 19 thru 22 January in Munich

No business has embraced digital more rapidly than professional sports, which is by nature data-driven. Now, sports teams are looking beyond quantitating athlete performance to enhancing fan experience.

FC Bayern Munich is hosting startups and students from all over the world at its #FCBayernHackDays to explore new possibilities related to VR, fan analytics and all things digital.

Selected startups will get invited to a hackathon held in Allianz Stadium on the outskirts of Munich and are promised access to all the gadgets with which football teams are experimenting.

From the website:

We are looking for fans, entrepreneurs, creatives, tech evangelists, innovators, designers, hackers, makers & more. No matter if you are from Munich or from far away.

There are a total of seven challenges as well from Audi, Siemens, DHL, FC Bayern and others.

Digital Demo Day Düsseldorf, 1 February

We tend to get hung up on Berlin and Munich. But more cities across Germany including Düsseldorf and Hanover are turning into innovation centers.

For example, if you want to see what’s going on in Düsseldorf, we suggest you check out Digital Demo Day.

On two stages, more than 50 VR / AR, drone, smart device, robotics, IoT and cyber security technology startups wil showcase the latest technologies, according to the website.

There are some intreguing topics scheduled including:

  • The VC Hype Cycle – What comes after IoT, AI and Blockchain?
  • AI for SMEs
  • Hack me if you can – Data theft made easy

The culmination of Digita Demo Day will be the Ignition Pitch Finale when a jury of experts decides who gets shares of 125,000 euros live on stage.

Tickets start at 29 euros and you can get them here.

This is at DigiHub, the city’s innovation center where SMEs, startups, universities and industry develop new digital business models, products and solutions.



DataViz Festival, 8 February, Utrecht, Netherlands

This is for all the people who take big data and transform it into easily understood graphics and actionable visualizations. The first Dataviz Festival is scheduled for 8 February in this Dutch commerce center just a 15 minutes from Amsterdam.

You’ll go to work in the afternoon under the guidance of the best in the field, then be inspired in the evening by the lightning talks. Thanks to Jan Willem Tulp at TULP Interactive for giving us a heads-up, and we’ll have the speaker lineup and more details ASAP.

Here’s the schedule:

13.30 Reception

14.00 Workshops

18.00 break for snacks

19.00 Lightning Talks

20.15 Drinks until 22:00

The organizers are Dutch, but in the Dutch tradition, if there are English speakers, the event will switch to English.

 TechChill, 8 & 9 February in Riga, Lativa

TechChill brings together startup teams, entrepreneurs, challengers and curious minds from the Baltics and beyond. This is, unlike other tech and startup events, a matchmaking effort to bring together startups and investors, then get media types to post about it all.

There are several events-within-the-event including the Fifty Founders Battle startup pitch competition showcasing the most promising and inspiring startups from the Baltics, Nordics and beyond. You can see the first 25 selected here.

They have 30-plus speakers announced including two guys from 500 Startups, the early stage investment fund/accelerator based in Mountain View. Also, Angie Jones, the senior automation engineer from Twitter, will be there.

This being Latvia, the price to attend is a bit more reasonable than, say, Barcelona. Passes start at 159 euros and you can get them here. Immigration Fair in 10 & 11 February, Houten, Netherlands,(Utrecht metro area)

Strictly speaking, this is neither a tech event nor a startup event. BUT, if you want to work in the Netherlands as a highly skilled migrant, you have to start somewhere.

This is a great place to start – an immigration fair with info about working, doing business, studying and living abroad. The Netherlands is serious about winning The War for Talent by reaching out more aggressively to highly skilled internationals.

Also, this is an EU event on the European Job Mobility Portal.


• 165 exhibitors
• 100 presentations by specialists and experienced experts such as ‘Working without boundaries in the border area of Germany and Belgium’ presented by Dutch EURES advisers.
• Extra attention for the themes ‘Contact Center Jobs Europe’ and ‘Summer Jobs’
• Exhibitors with actual vacancies.

You can get two free tickets here if you hurry. But the day-of prices will be 17.50 euros. Still a bargain!

E-commerce Berlin Expo, 15 February at Station

With Zalando and the Samwer Brothers, Berlin took an early lead in e-commerce. So it’s only natural that Berlin is the center of this business category, and E-Commerce Berlin Expo brings everyone together for a day.

It’s also not a shocker than Zalando execs are featured speakers including Tina Nord, director of their content-marketing strategy. Daniel Kramer from Facebook is on the list as is Deniz Macura from Google.

The good news: E-commerce Berlin is not 1,000 euros or even 100 euros … it’s free to attend. Free!

The event website is stellar, showing who’ll be speaking where and when about specific topics.

You can register here.

Digiday Publishing Summit, 19 thru 21 Feb. in Monaco

Come on … you always wanted to go to a conference in Monaco. Admit it. Now, how do we get our bosses/investors to pony up? Because this baby is expensive. But there are worse places to be in February than Monaco.

Digiday monitors media trends, especially digital advertising models. Which are mostly broken. This looks like they at least figured out one new revenue stream – events.

This is a think session so publishers can figure out how to cope with the fact that conventional advertising isn’t going to work in the digital age. It’s also a shopping spree for advertisers looking for the right audience.

Summit topics include:

  • Building A Global Subscription Model
  • Publishers Are Embracing the Marketers Mentality (SIC)
  • A Case Study: Transitioning From Ad Revenue Models To Reader Revenue Models
  • 10 Things You Need to Know About GDPR

The Monaco event passes start at 3,700 euros and go to 7,600 euros. Compared to the events that draw tens of thousands, these summits are small with between 100 and 300 participants, according to the Digiday website.

For that, you get 8-minute meetings that match up buy- and sell-side attendees so they can schmooze and decide if they want to do business.

Speakers are mostly publishers.

You can register here.

4YFN, 26 Feb. thru 28 Feb. in Barcelona

Can’t afford MWC? 4 Years From Now is the startup/business event of Mobile World Capital Barcelona for startups, investors and corporations to connect and do deals.

It’s the poor-man’s version of Mobile World Congress, created and run by the same organization.

You can expect to rub shoulders with investors, media and analysts looking for the new new thing.

Like MWC, this is on an ambitious scale. Last year, 4YFN had almost 20,000 visitors, 600 startup businesses, 275 speakers on 3 stages, 700 investors attended the Founders and Investors programme and 2,400 meetings took place between startups and international press.

Passes start at 239.40 euros (which is weirdly precise) and you can get them here.


Mobile World Congress, 26 Feb. thru 1 March, Barcelona

This is one of the global mega-events, along with Web Summit and Viva Tech in Paris.

MWC has one simple axiom: Mobile is the force behind every emerging innovation.

There were 108,000 attendees for the 2017 event. For 2018, the marquee speaker so far is Rajeev Misra, CEO of Softbank Vision Fund, the $100 billion tech investment fund based in Japan. With capital from The Valley, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and other sources, it’s the largest ever.

There’s a reason to go. But of course, this is not an inexpensive proposition, with passes starting at 800 euros and going to 5,000 euros.

You can get passes here.


 Landing Festival Berlin, 14 & 15 March

If nothing else, Landing Festival Berlin has the most compelling copy we’ve ever read on a website:

I imagine that right now, you’re feeling a bit like Alice. 
Hmm? Tumbling down the rabbit hole? Reality is a funny thing. The life you’ve led is not, in fact, the totality of what is possible for you. And if you can release yourself from the bonds you don’t even see, you would then be able to see the world as it truly is. The world beyond the Matrix. 

Okay ….

LFB is essentially the place where top-tier tech talent can find their next great gig and pick up some industry insights. Speakers are way more to the process side than the entertainment side.

Topics include:

  • Project management
  • Future of work
  • Corporate vs. startup
  • UX front end
  • AR/VR

Landing Festival is two days of seminars and networking featuring talks, panels, expert sessions, workshops, a job fair and entertainment activities. And a boat party.

Passes start at 40 euros, and you can get yours here.

Latitude59, 24 & 25 May in Tallinn, Estonia

Latitude59 bills itself as “the flagship startup/tech event of the world’s first digital society.”

The event is integrated into Estonia’s national marketing effort for its startup/e-Residency matrix.

The boutique event attracts around 2,000 people, mostly from the Baltics and Nordics, as well as investors from across the globe. More a serious event, less a party. But as we’ve written many, many times before, a lot of great technology starts with Estonian talent.

Tickets start at 69 euros for students. Yes, 69 euros. Not 690 or 6,900.

You can get them here.

Latitude59, by the way, refers to Tallinn’s north latitude. So, ah, take a sweater.

Nordic Media Insights, 12 & 13 June, 2018 in Stockholm

As we state in the Digiday blurb above, no business segment has been disrupted more dramatically by the Internet than media and advertising. Conventional media misplayed digital from the beginning.

First, media execs gave away content, mistaking the Internet for a novelty rather than the most efficient information-delivery platform in history. Then, they lost classified advertising to Craig’s List. Now, Facebook and Google have combined a 60-share of digital advertising.

How do we get out of this hole? Nordic Media Insights might have the answers.

NMI is an annual media conference for executives, managers and professionals in the Nordic (Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland) and European Media Industry. But last year’s speakers including several American media executives including Joseph Kahn, managing editor of the New York Times, and Melissa Bell, co-founder of

So far, there are 40 announced speakers, and you can see their bios on the website.

The 2018 Nordic Media Insights tracks will address the biggest issues:

• Robotics and Artificial Intelligence
• Great Branded Content & Native Advertising
• New & Adjacent Business Opportunities
• Increasing Consumer Revenues
• Digital & Interactive Storytelling
• What’s Next for Programmatic Advertising?
• Meet the Hottest Nordic Media Startups

You can get early bird tickets here starting at 7,500 Swedish krona (750 euros). Tickets are discounted until 1 January, when they go to 9,500 krona.

Coming up:

Lean Startup Summit Europe: Amsterdam, 20 & 21 March – One of the first big-name conferences of the year. And an expensive one at 500 euros. But if you’re a believer in Eric Ries’s Lean Startup philosophy, this is a must-attend event. And yes, Ries will be there.

TNW Conference in Amsterdam: 24 & 25 May, At the big TNW event, the news for 2018 is that an expert jury selected by Chivas Venture will award a total of $800,000 to social startups, with another $200,000 being provided to runners-up before the event.  Stand by for more.

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