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

The torrid pace of innovation returns for fall through the end of the year.

In 2018, there are even more conferences; more summits and more meetups scheduled almost every week across Europe from Portugal to Ukraine, with some organizers 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. That’s your call.” It’s easy to make fun of some of the more pompous and pointless events. But we’ve been to multiple events this year including CERN Hackathon in Eindhoven and PortXL in Rotterdam and they were amazing, with levels 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 (Really … 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.

Feel free to send us your events at: terry@dispatcheseurope. And thanks to all of you who have sent/suggested events.

Artificial Intelligence Conference, 8 thru 11 October in London

Is it just us, or is AI becoming a thing? In a word, yes … the most important tech category at the moment, and a booming industry that didn’t exist in any meaningful way even five years ago. So there are multiple AI events across Europe running pretty much concurrently.

If you’re looking for a serious academic/business conference, this could be it. Coming to London from New York and San Francisco, Artificial Intelligence Conference doesn’t have Formula One drivers or hipsters rappelling off glaciers like some tech events. What it does have are researchers. Lots and lots of researchers from global players such as Google, Microsoft, IBM and Intel along with influencers from the various media and universities.

Topics include:

• Image Classification Models in TensorFlow

• PyTorch: A flexible approach for computer vision models

• Recurrent neural networks for time-series forecasting

So bring your big brain.

We count almost 100 speakers. You can see the full list here.

This is an industry event put on by O’Reilly Media and Intel AI, so the price of access is pretty stiff, starting at 895 pounds. You can get tickets here.


World Summit AI, 10 & 11 October in Amsterdam

World Summit AI’s modest goal is to gather “the entire AI ecosystem, Enterprise, Startups, Investors and Deep Tech from every corner of the globe in Amsterdam for 2 days of knowledge-sharing and networking.”

This summit will address applied solutions for corporates and enterprise to the implications of Artificial Intelligence on society, including ethics and AI4good.

They promise 140 of the brightest AI brains. Last year’s event included speakers from Apple, Facebook, Tencent, Google and Amazon.

This year’s speakers include”

Steve Chen from NASA, Cassie Kozrykov, chief decision scientist (good title!) at Google; Ruslan Salakhutdinov from Apple/Carnigie Mellon; Verity Harding from Google DeepMind; and Ciaran Jetten from Heineken (hey, it’s Amsterdam)

Tickets start at 199 euros for startups and you can get them here.

This is another event from Inspired Minds in London.

Uprise Festival, 17 & 18 October, Dublin

Dublin may have lost Web Summit to Lisbon, but they still have a very interesting event … and the tagline is, “People First, Then Tech.” Uprise Festival is Europe’s original event for founders, talent and quality connections … says so right there on the website landing page.

This is like a Beatles recording from the late 1960s – multi-track and a little unconventional.

The 13 (count ’em, 13!) tracks include:

• A Challenger Pitch Battle where Investors and the audience give feedback and pick the Startup Pitch Product with the ‘highest potential.’ Not for the delicate snowflakes, we’re thinking.

• A Metropolis event where you Smart Cities types can meet government officials and companies designing, building and (we really, really hate this term because it’s impossible) “future proofing” environments.

• Off the Block for blockchain and crypto-currency advocates.

• Risky Business looking at the intersection of commerce and new fintech.

There are also a really interesting sports track and even a look at how space will figure into logistics.

There are two programs for young talent, the 100Y and the invitation-only 50X where you can interface with TTTs. (Top tech talent.)

Speakers include:

Silje Barkesten, the Smart City person for Olso; Cassie Craddock, Ripple’s business development manager; and Samar Singla from Jugnoo.

(If you have to ask what Ripple and Jugnoo are, this might not be your conference.)

Smart people and cool concepts, all for ah free, if you only want to get into the Marketplace event and are talent looking for a gig. Other wise, tickets start at 243 euros and you can get yours here.

Future Now Conference, 19 thru 24 October in Bratislava, Slovakia

We’re seeing more and more conferences in Eastern Europe, where capitalism – much less entrepreneurial spirit – was verboten for decades. Future Now is the latest to tap into what we believe is a huge latent source of innovation. This is actually a continuation of Startup Awards SK. The event still includes startups – 24 from around Eastern Europe – but now there’s more emphasis on anticipating, then integrating, future technologies into life and work.

This year, the three topics will be Future of Work, Future of Data and Future of Learning.

And of course, the idea is to “hit the sweet spot between serious business and serious fun.” So they’re throwing in a tech festival with multiple events over two days at locations around the city to connect attendees to coworking spaces, universities, cafes and bars.

You can see the list of speakers here.

Startups can apply here.

Tickets start at 150 euros and you can get yours here.

Zürich Innovation World Championship, first round closes 21 October

This is not an event per se, but a process leading up to an event. Zurich, one of the insurance capitals along with Amsterdam and Munich, is having an old-fashioned bake-off, looking for the next generation of insurtech firms.

Zürich Innovation World Championship is open to startups with “transformative technologies” in the key business areas of mobility, smart homes and buildings, digital health and financial planning. But the website makes clear that you must have an MVP to qualify. IF you make it through the first round, you go to the regionals, then to the global round and championship next February in Zurich, expenses paid.

Here’s how it all works, from the ZIWC website:

You need to present your product or service that we can pilot with our customers. In the country round we want you to demonstrate how relevant your product or service is to the local market, and how you differentiate from competitors. In the regional round we would like you to further demonstrate business impact to the region and the value to customers. In the group round, we will be looking for evidence that the idea could scale globally and sustainably.

If you win, then ZIWC give you the capital to go to your preferred market (we’re thinking Zürich is nice this time of year) as well as other support including marcom and buzz.

You can apply here.

BIME, 24 thru 26 October in Bilbao

Okay, we’ve had listings for fintech, insurtech, digital media, health, blockchain… you name it. But we’ve never had a music startup event till now.

Tah-dah … BIME connects music, tech, entrepreneurship and innovation. As it’s in Spain, it’s the meeting point for the Spanish music industry, as well as a bridge between creative industries professionals from Europe and Latin America. “BIME promotes cultural exchange to enhance talent and new ideas,” according to the website.

We hear you snickering, so understand that BIME is about how new thinking can generate new revenue. So yeah, it’s about creating the next-gen music business.

As such, it has attracted some of the biggest names in music including Imagine Dragon, PJ Harvey and the Chemical Brothers have played at the BIME LIve concerts that are part of this multi-day event.

So, here’s a breakdown of the events:

BIME Pro Fest is a congress for music festivals in Spain

BIME Pro Startups is, well, the startup event for new digital music-industry biz models

BIME Pro Campus is for future industry execs

BIME Pro Vid & Sound is for the techs who make it possible for the artists to make the magic happen

There are also legal, business and game sessions.

There are 220 speakers and showcases for new talent. All and all, a vacation/party in Spain you can write off on the company expense account.

The sessions pass is 65 euros, and a full pass to the live music events AND conference is 110 euros.

You can get your tickets here.

Web Summit, 5 thru 8 November in Lisbon

This is the Big One Lisbon stole from Dublin, and it’s changed Portugal’s digital fortunes.

Web Summit bills itself as “the largest tech summit in the world.” More a right of passage for digital types than a utilitarian “meet the right people” event. Because who are you going to meet in a crowd of 70,000? Well, that’s the point, isn’t it? You never know.

The function, if you will, of Web Summit is to bring together the most influential people in the world from The Valley, finance, government and the arts. And it has – everyone from digital visionary/supervillain Peter Thiel to internet inventor Al Gore to the late Stephen Hawking.

We’re way out on this, and no speakers are listed on the website. But if you’re going to go, you need to start planning now. And if you act now, you can get TWO-FOR-One tickets at the low, low price of 850 euros!

Devreach, 13 & 14 November, Sofia

In our HQ city of Eindhoven, ultra-high-tech companies simply cannot find enough tech talent. So, Sophia is very much on the radar here and across Northern Europe. Why? Because Bulgaria has undeployed talent.

Devreach, the BIG conference for developers in Central and Eastern Europe, brings that talent together with developers and coders from around the world. A recruiter’s wet dream.

Topics include seminars for .Net including AI, IoT and bots, various JavaScript seminars and discussions of industry trends. There are dozens of speakers ranging from Microsoft and Samsung big shots to indie developers coming from the U.S.

Tickets start at 75 euros and you can get them here.

Sime Stockholm, 14 & 15 November

Each year – twice per year- Sime Stockholm puts on Scandinavia’s biggest digital conference and always has big names. For free! But there’s a catch … you have to get invited.

Increasingly, the Nordics are the place to be if for no other reason than Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark are flush with conventional business success, which provides the capital for cranking out new digital companies such as Skype and Spotify.

From the Sime website:

Sime brings together thought leaders, executives from different industries and entrepreneurs to explore new business opportunities together with world-class speakers, workshop leaders and experts. The Sime vibe inspires, challenges and touches every participant regardless if you are one of the 1,800 participants at one of our flagship events or part of a Sime CEO dinner with 20 handpicked global CEOs.

This is a two-day summit. Day One includes IOT, digital marketing and sales. Day Two includes a game summit, a scale-up summit and a proptech summit.

Previous speakers include:

Daniel Ek, Spotify founder

Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia founder

Niklas Zennström, Skype founder

Caterina Fake, founder of Flickr

You can contact Sime organizers here for more info.

Women in Tech Dublin 2018, 15 November

A lot – too many – of the “Women in Tech” conferences are basically 500 euro-per-ticket forums for HR people from big companies to brag about how diverse their cultures are. Which is fine, but just not a lot of use to women actually trying to survive in a male-dominated tech world.

Not this one.

Women in Tech Dublin is about industry pioneers sharing their experiences of “championing women, the importance of female role models and how to accelerate careers,” according to the website.

Women in Tech Dublin has women in tech including:

• Ann O’Leary, CEO of Vodafone Ireland

• Julie Spillane, commercial director for Accenture’s global geographic services division and Founder of The Dock, Accenture’s global research and incubation hub.

• Barbary McCarthy, director of engineering at HubSpot in Dublin

• Sheree Atcheson, a global ambassador for Women Who Code and one of the UK’s Top Most Influential Women in Tech, according to Computer Weekly magazine.

Tickets start at 250 euros and you can get them here.

This group also puts on events in Amsterdam and San Francisco.

F10 FinTech Hackathon Vienna, 16 thru 18 November

This is another hackathon with the goal of having innovators organized into startups by the end of the event, which is increasingly a thing. (Dispatches is part of the CERN technology transfer process.)

Like this fintech hackathon in Vienna. F10 Fintech Hackathon is open to people beyond coders, developers and bankers. The event is looking for marketing types, financial people, “lateral thinkers and great minds” as well.

That’s just about everyone in our book.

Vienna is not really all that influential in the fintech space, at least not like Amsterdam (Adyen) or Tallinn (TransferWise). But of course, that’s always an opportunity … and Vienna has several large banks.

The application deadline is 21 October 2018 by midnight Vienna time- which is kind of confusing. Is that the beginning of the day, or the end?

This is a free event, and you can sign up here.

Black Hat Europe 2018, 3 thru 6 December in London

This looks cool. Black Hat conferences are for the infosec set.

From the website:

The Black Hat Briefings were created 20 years ago to provide computer security professionals a place to learn the very latest in information security risks, research, and trends. Presented by the brightest in the industry, the Briefings cover everything from critical information infrastructure to widely used enterprise computer systems to the latest InfoSec research and development and everything in between. The Briefings are vendor-neutral, allowing the presenters to speak candidly about real problems and potential solutions across both the public and private sectors.

This is more of an academic conference, so there’s a call for papers that closes 20 August and most of the website is dedicated to disclosure rules and speaker qualifications for submitting research.

This is for people waaay smarter than we are.

You have to apply to attend, so there’s no stated fee. It appears vendors foot the bill because after all, you’re addressing their pain points. Also, BHE pays speakers an honorarium of up to $1,500. You can apply here.

And be sure to read ALL the information on the website because there are a lot of submission requirements and rules about who can present.

SLUSH 2018, 4 & 5 December in Helsinki

Despite being held in the frozen tundra of Finland in mid-winter, Slush has turned into one of the Big 5 along with Web Summit and TechCrunch Disrupt.

Last year, 20,000 people were involved either in SLUSH or attended associated events. Crowds at single SLUSH talks were as large as 6,000 people, according to the website.

The point of Slush is to demonstrate that Europe is chest-bumping The Valley as the dominant tech center. Speakers include founders, investors, startup pioneers and tech aficionados.

For example, last year Martin Lau, president of Tencent and Ilkka Pannanen, founder of Supercell appeared at the same talk. Between them, they have a couple of hundred million people playing their digital games every day.

For 2018, heavy hitters including Maximillian Tayenthal, founder of virtual bank N26, Dan Brody from Tencent Investments, Bradley Horowitz, VP of Product Management at Google and HubSpot co-founder Brian Halligan. More speakers will be revealed as we get closer to the event.

You know with that kind of star power, this ain’t gonna’ be cheap. That said, tickets start at 295 euros for startups, which is 100 euros cheaper than last year. Attendee tickets are 795 euros.

You can get yours here.


sTARTUp Day 2019, 23 thru 25 January Tartu, Estonia

This is the Baltic’s biggest startup event, yet held in a small, but hugely influential, city in Estonia. A town which has incorporated its name into the title of the event – sTARTUp Day.

The University of Tartu claims the title of Northern Europe’s oldest university. And we all know how unis contribute to the startup ecosystem. And we all know about Estonia’s tech prowess, where Skype started, and where about half its employees are based today.

sTARTUp Day is actually three days – 23 January through 25 January. It’s a bit different in that it bills itself as an event for both conventional businesspeople and the startup/tech crowd, “experts and newbies … an event where everyday people with an interest in startups and technology can meet others with similar interests and grow their network,” according to the website. Which is refreshing.

There are also some interesting speakers on the bill including Marvin Liao from 500 Startups, Allen Birkett from HubSpot and Hermione Way from Tinder, with more to be announced.

And now the best bit: A ticket to sTARTUp Day is not 999 euros. It’s not even 99 euros. If you call now, a sTARTUp Day ticket can be YOURS for the low, low price of 49 euros!

You can get yours here.

E-commerce Berlin Expo, 20 February 2019

This will be the fourth year for E-Commerce Berlin Expo, dedicated – as you might have guessed – to helping people sell stuff online. This not a tech conference but an actual trade fair for B2B e-commerce service providers, designed for the CEOs, directors, senior managers and executives responsible for delivering e-commerce strategies.

Organizers have even thoughtfully provided a breakdown of 2018 attendees of the 4,600 attendees.

E-commerce Berlin has a pretty cool lineup including:

• Tina Nord from Zalando

• StefanBlumenthall from Scout24 Media

• Andrea Moneci from Hewlett-Packard Enterprise

• Deniz Macura from Google

• Luca Brekalo from L’Oreal

and a bunch more.

It’s not too late to sign up to present your paper on stage, which you can do here.

This is a free event, with sponsors and all the vendors who bought booths picking up the tab.

You can register here at the big orange button that says, “I want to receive a free ticket.” Just that easy.

And our thanks to Charlene Pham at E-commerce Berlin for telling us about this event.

OurCrowd Global Investor Summit, 7 March 2019 in Jerusalem

Israel – particularly Tel Aviv – is breathing down Europe’s neck. When we talk with European investors and executives, they’re increasingly dazzled by the tech and talent coming of Israel even more than from China. So it makes sense the biggest equity crowdfunding event in the world is here.

So you might want to put OurCrowd Global Investors Summit on your calendar because entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, global corporations and investors from all over the world will gather to define the startup landscape for the year to come, to quote from the website.

This is both a showcase for Israel and an international event.

Here are the numbers from the latest news release:

More than 10,000 people are expected to register from over 80 countries, including 300 startups, 200 VC representatives and 250 Multinational Corporations such as GE, Honda, DuPont, and Samsung, along with entrepreneurs, investors, government officials and members of the press from around the world.

But it’s the diversity of speakers that’s fascinating.  Previous Our Crowd events have included everyone from the COO of Honda R&D to a Hartford, Conn. police sergeant who’s an expert on real-time surveillance, CT cameras and command centers for smart cities.

2019 sessions include:

  • From the main stage, first-person accounts of startup tech changing the world: assisting law enforcement in the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting, drone search and rescue after the hurricanes in Florida and Texas, helping rehabilitate spinal cord injuries, saving lives from medical errors, and much more
  • “The Innovation Revolution: Case studies from the Ecosystem,” demonstrating how connecting the players can supercharge the growth of startups
    Top 10 Tech Trends for 2018
  • “Demo Theater: No Pitches, Just Wow” – Nonstop demos in a theater environment (popcorn included), demonstrated by the innovators themselves
  • “Killer Robots and Mutant Children: How to Keep Next-Gen Tech from Destroying Us”
  • The OurCrowd Hackathon: Crowdcreating a Startup, where we will crowdsource ideas to commercialize raw technologies

This is a lot different from other tech/stasrtup events in that this is a summit put on by an equity crowdfunding group, OurCrowd, which also operates its own investment arm with almost 25,000 accredited investors from more than 112 countries. OurCrowd has raised over $750 million and invested in 150 portfolio companies and funds, according to its website.

This is a big deal, and of course, you have to apply to come, which you can do on the website.

Hello Tomorrow Paris, 14 & 15 March

With Trump, Brexit and the missteps of social media giants such as Facebook, it’s difficult to believe sometimes the world is getting better, but it is. The goal of Hello Tomorrow Paris, which bills itself as a global summit, is to bring together the brightest entrepreneurs and change-makers to “build our future.”

This is mostly a future-trends event, with speakers from universities, NASA and organizations such as the Longevity Fund, which seeks ways to make humans live long and prosper. But there are also events for startups including a Toolbox Stage where you can learn skills such as corporate board building, what to look for in a shareholder agreement and how to identify A Players.

Tickets start at 90 euros for startups and you can get yours here.

Sektor 3.0 Festival, 22 & 23 May in Warsaw

Innovating for social impact? Leveraging your startup or NGO with technology? Or perhaps you’re a startup that can help a non-profit with your invention?

Then you need to be at the 9th edition of Sektor 3.0 Festival, scheduled for May 22 & 23, 2019 in Warsaw, Poland. The free two-day event features seminars and lectures, as well as practical workshops hosted by partner companies and institutions throughout Warsaw.

Sektor 3.0 Festival claims the title of the largest innovation and technology conference in the Central and Eastern European region focusing on innovators, startups, non-profits and activists who seek to make positive social change. About 1,000 people come annually from around the world to the nine-year-old festival, with speakers from 15 countries in 2018.

Speakers include experts from Google, MIT, Intel, NASA, CNN, Microsoft, Seoul National University,  European Parliament, The EU Ministry of Digital Affairs and other institutions.

The full program of the 2019 edition will be announced in April 2019. See the Sektor 3.0 website for more information about previous speakers and organizing partners.

Contact if you have questions. (Thanks to Magdalena Jackiewicz for sending us the Sektor 3.0 info.)

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