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

The torrid pace of innovation just speeds up starting this month through the end of the year, with six big events in November.

Every year, 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.” If only the innovation they produced matched the ability of event organizers to come up with new ways to get you to fork over 500 euros!

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.

GOTO Copenhagen 2018, 19 thru 23 November

As Marc Andreessen so famously wrote, “software is eating the world.” That’s truer now even than when he wrote that essay lo’ these many years ago.

Andreessen’s take was that after years of building the digital infrastructure and compounding computing knowledge, we’ve reached the moment “all of the technology required to transform industries through software finally works and can be widely delivered at global scale.”

Now what?

Find out at GOTO Copenhagen, software development conference in November. The conference will reveal how “past innovations (and mistakes!) lead to incredible new opportunities for all kinds of technologies and how we can prepare ourselves for future advancements.”

And this is kind of cool … instead of Al Gore, who invented the Internet, GOTO Copenhagen actually has the inventor of the World Wide Web as a speaker. As we all know, Tim Berners-Lee invented the www as a scientist at CERN labs in order to connect with other researchers.

Also on the speaker’s podiums will be people who actually invented programming languages, lots of super-programmers and developers, people who oversee the tech for mega-companies and at least one rocket scientist among the 69 speakers.

As you’ve already figured out, GOTO Copenhagen is an expensive proposition (it is in Copenhagen), with tickets prices starting at 4,495 Danish krone, or about 600 euros. PER DAY!

You can get your tickets here. And you know, pick us up a couple … we’ll pay you back.

Digital Freedom Festival, 30 November thru 1 December in Riga, Latvia

As everyone knows, there’s an on-going clash between European officials and those of us in the digital space. Digital Freedom Festival is about addressing that tension between the policymakers’ fears of digital giants intruding into our lives, upending our economies and governments, and the reality that digital progress always marches on.

The theme of Digital Freedom Festival is that the internet and connectivity can still make the world a better place.

From the website:

Our event is more than just a startup conference. It is a multi-event meeting platform, which takes a special interest in uniting the world of technology. We encourage debate on how technologies can truly “make the world a better place”, creating greater digital dividends for everyone.

By the current scale of digital/startup/tech events, this is a small one, with about 1,500 people expected. There are 110 speakers booked, so basically one speaker for every 15 attendees. And 50 percent of the speakers are women, whose perspective is often missing in the mega-tech conferences.

Speakers include:

• Robin Wauters,

• Chris Brown and Tanya Soman from 500 Startups

• Ton van ‘t Noordende from 01 Ventures in Amsterdam

• Kate Horowitz from Organ House (yeah, it’s that kind of festival!)

• at least one Bhuddist monk

There are multiple events going on at the same time on different floors of the venue (as well as “secret speakers”), so be sure to check out the full schedule here.

Tickets start at 99 euros for startups and you can get yours 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 include 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 in 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.

Mobile World Conference, 25 thru 28 February in Barcelona

Mobile is still where the action is, and MWC Barcelona (the new name) is one of the Big Three tech/startup events along Viva Technology, Web Summit and CES in Vegas. This show mixes first looks at cutting-edge tech from more than 2,400 companies with programs built around industry visionaries dispensing digital wisdom.

And, it will be just you and 110,000 other change-makers. Cozy.

There are eight themes for the 2019 conference including:

• Connectivity

• Industy 4.0

• Immersive content

• Digital trust

This is a coming together of people from huge companies, but there are also programs tailored for startups and women in tech.

Announced speakers this early are mostly from big companies that are heavily invested in mobile including Vimeo and Vodafone.

You can register here.

There’s also a section on the website for hotels … and with 110,000 people pouring into Barcelona, that might be your biggest challenge.

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 deeptech 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.

And don’t forget the Hello Tomorrow Global Challenge:

The Challenge gives scientists and deeptech entrepreneurs around the globe a platform for their research and projects, providing equity-free prize money as well as other funding opportunities, global visibility and connections with key players in the deeptech innovation network.

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

Webit.Festival Europe, 13 thru 15 May in Sofia

Billed as “a gathering of open-minded people who want to change the world,” Webit is part industry show, part tech event and part European Union policy summit. It’s 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 you never know, right?

You can get early bird tickets here starting at 100 euros.

Viva Technology, 16 thru 18 May in Paris

This is a tough one … two events in Paris at almost the same time. The deeptech-focused Hello Tomorrow versus all things to all startups Viva Technology? Which might be a decision Dispatches has to make … we’ll see.

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, which gives you 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.

•  Startup Battlefield Europe, a pitch competition with chance to win 25,000 europs and an all-expenses paid trip to Disrupt in San Francisco.

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 in Paris.

You can get Early Bird tickets 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 [email protected] if you have questions. (Thanks to Magdalena Jackiewicz for sending us the Sektor 3.0 info.)

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