Lifestyle & Culture

New for 2020: Dispatches’ list of the best startup and tech events in Europe and beyond

So, your boss/investors just asked if you need to budget for any big startup/tech events in 2020. Your answer should be, “Oh, yeah,” if for no other reason than to get you out of your office/shared workspace and into new networks in new cities with new people.

As we pointed out way back in 2017, as events multiply and corporations catch startup fever, the question is always, “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. And why, exactly, does a ticket to a Digiday event for digital publishers cost 2,400 euros? Or passes to Mobile World Congress start at 1,700 euros?

Still, a lot of the biggest events such as SaaStr in Paris coming up in June have already sold out their early bird offerings.

For 2020, Dispatches will continue to weigh the potential benefits of an event with the costs and omit the unjustifiably expensive events, as well as search for events which can help you build your skills and industry connections. 

Also, we’re pushing beyond our borders to include events in Israel and Dubai that are easily and affordably accessible from Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam.

Send us your event at: … and thanks to all you who’ve send us your event info through the years. It goes without saying that this list will be updated weekly.

So, let’s hit the road, Jack ….

TechChill, 20 & 21 February in Riga, Latvia

Ah, to be in Latvia in February … the sun is starting to come up over the horizon, the snow is deep and the air is thick with deals.

TechChill is a Big Names gathering without big names prices, with tickets 99 euros for startups. Because this is a community event put on by a non-profit in the frozen Baltics … in February.

The three 2020 tracks are blockchain, 5G and greentech.

The 2020 speakers list is an interesting mix, to say the least:

• Rotten Tomatoes founder Patrick Lee

• Jules Miller, a partner at IBM’s blockchain accelerator

• Ben Larson, founder of cannabis infusion startup Vertosa (formerly Nanogen Labs)

• Marvin Liao from 500 Startups

• a bunch of people from Inventure, the Nordic technology fund

And don’t forget … there’s the 50 Founders pitching contest worth 10,000 euros.

This year, the TechChill theme is”The Big Shift,” and we assume they’re talking about Latvia emerging as a startup center, escaping the shadow of neighboring Estonia. Or maybe the shift to 5G. Who knows ….

Get your startup pass here.

Polar Bear Pitching, 12 March in Oolu, Finland

When we heard about Polar Bear Pitching, we knew we had to add it to the list. And that there’s no chance in hell we’re ever gonna’ go do this no matter how badly we need to connect with investors.

Here’s the deal – you get on a plane and fly to Oulu, Finland (wherever that is), cut a hole in the ice (yes, there will be ice in Oulu, Finland in March) and pitch while standing in the frozen Baltic Sea. Investors sit around the hole in the frozen Baltic Sea and – bundled up and cozy – watch startups pitch as fast as they can to get out of the water.

The whole story is, this event came out of a tech downturn that affected this tech/university city 600 kilometers due north of Helsinki. (We didn’t even know there was a “north of Helsinki.”) We don’t have space in this post to do it justice, but the Polar Bear Pitching story a really good one about perseverance.

Tickets start at 79 euros for startups, but that does not include the cost of ER crew reviving you after your heart stops from the shock of hitting that water.

Even if you have no interest in going, you must check out the website.

FasTrackathon, 25 March in Eindhoven

This is the third iteration of FasTrackathon, which marks the new cycle of deep-tech venture building at HighTechXL.

FasTrackathon works like this:

Think of FasTrackathon as a reverse hackathon … an invitation to get acquainted with new technologies, then build your own venture. HighTechXL brings the latest tech from research centers and tech companies such as CERN, the European Space Agency and Philips and you join a team to take that technology to market.

So, this is an event where you can walk in as humble tech or management talent and leave a CEO. Companies that have come out of FasTrackthons and HighTechXL venture-building include Incooling, which just announced a collaboration with Gigabyte at CES.

We’ll have a full post with details about the technologies that will debut.

The event is free and you can register here. And this being the Netherlands, there will be beer ….

Paris Blockchain Week Summit, 31 March & 1 April

Paris wants you to forget Amsterdam, Tel Aviv, Tallinn, Lisbon, Barcelona and every other digital-innovation capital. To do that, the French have come up with Station F, the French startup visa and lots of big events including Paris Blockchain Week Summit. Tickets start at 175 euros for developers and you can get yours here.

The goal is to make France the first G20 country to create a business-friendly environment for the rapidly growing blockchain/crypto currency ecosystem. 

France actually has a secretary of state for Digital Affairs, and he’ll be there at Station F. Tickets start at 175 euros, and you can get yours here.

Arch Summit 2020, 1 & 2 April in Luxembourg City

Small but seriously wealthy Luxembourg has banking and finance and even steel, but it’s missed out on the digital revolution. Until now.

Arch Summit – brought to you by a joint venture between Vodafone Group and Technoport (Luxembourg’s government-run incubator) – brings startups and corporates together as more multinationals such as Vodafone look to juice operations with fresh blood and new thinking.

Tech tracks include:

• 5G (surprise … since this is all telecom driven)

• IoT

• AI

• blockchain

• and anywhere else a big telecom can play in the revolution to link the planet.

This is more of an industry trade show than a feel-good gathering, so a booth, matchmaking tool and networking come with the 499 euro price of admission.

This is really Vodafone’s party, so their top brass will be there speechifying. But there are real opportunities to take home serious money including 150,000 euros in cash if you win the pitch contest, as well as 6-months of support through Technoport.

You can get your tickets here.

Seedstars World Summit, 2 & 3 April in Lausanne, Switzerland

This is Seedstars summit where the best-of-the-best global startups and investors come together in arguably the most beautiful setting of all the world’s startup events, in Lausanne on the shores of Lac Léman (Lake Geneva).

The highlight is the pitching competition between 12 finalists for the Seedstars Global championship. The Summit includes speakers panel discussions and industry-focused workshops.

The whole thing works like this: Seedstars organizes startup/entrepreneur events across the globe in 80-plus emerging ecosystems. More than 100,000 people from all over the world belong to the Seedtars network, including 2,000 investors. 

The idea is to find and fund the technologies and businesses that can really boost emerging markets. As you might expect with a do-good effort, tickets start at an affordable 85 Swiss francs and you can get yours here.

You can see the full agenda here.

Dublin Tech Summit, April 22 & 23

Along with Berlin, Barcelona, Amsterdam and Frankfurt, Dublin is a city of tomorrow as Brexit transforms the tech and financial landscape of Europe.

The Republic of Ireland has attracted operations of most of the largest tech companies in the world from Amazon to Zalando. So, this 2020 event is themed as “What Does Tomorrow Looks Like.” (For the record, no question mark.)

This is an emerging technology event with 200 speakers that’s projected to attract 10,000 attendees, so this is the big event replacing Web Summit, which left Dublin for Lisbon in 2016.

This year, the marquee speaker is Eric Yuan from a little unicorn called Zoom, which Microsoft tried – and failed – to acquire before it went to an IPO.

Tickets start at 259 euros and you can get yours here.

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