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The 2019 Edition (updated): Dispatches’ list of the best startup and tech events across Europe

Dispatches is all about bringing highly skilled internationals together to collaborate on the way to changing the world for the better. (Oh, and it would be nice if we all make a couple of euros.) Which is why we go to as many tech and startup events as possible when we’re not going to EDM concerts and zipping around Europe writing travel posts. (We know … a 24/7 job, but somebody’s gotta do it.)

Europe’s tech ecosystem is growing, and by extension, so are the number of startup and tech events. The center of the digital universe used to be London, which still produces far more innovative new companies than any other city with the possible exception of Tel Aviv. But with Brexit, there are emerging contenders for Europe’s tech crown now from Lisbon to Lviv.

At first, Europe imitated Silicon Valley and its tech meetups and hackathons. Now, we’re going our own way, pushing hard into deep tech such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.

As stated back in 2017, the question we always hear – as events multiply and corporations catch startup fever – 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. And why, exactly, does a ticket to VMworld in Barcelona cost 1,200 euros?

It’s easy to make fun of some of the more pompous and pointless events. But we’ve been to multiple events since 2016 including the 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. Three HighTechXL teams just returned from Hello Tomorrow in Paris pumped more about the potential investors and fellow entrepreneurs they met than the speakers themselves, but rated the event a huge success.

What we’re no longer including are the invitation-only and celebrity-oriented events, which come dangerously close to just being religious services for people worshiping at the Temple of Tech. For 2019, we’re including more events which can help you build your skills and industry connections. And as always, thanks to those sending us their events … and we’ll try to do a better job of keeping this list updated.

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

SaaStr Europa 2019, Paris, 12 & 13 June

Ahhh, June in Paris, when hearts turn to love, romance and B2B software as a service in the City of Lights.

Come on … who doesn’t love Saas, right?  And we’ve decided to pretty much just list every event in Paris because we like going there.

This is the second year for SaasStr, which started in San Francisco, where they put on one of the largest B2B software conferences. The concept is, Saastr wants to take enterprises from $0 to $100 million as quickly as possible, and this event is designed to bring together founders, C-suite types and VCs looking for the new, new thing.

For 2019, SaasStr Europa is projected to bring 2,500 and have twice as much content, according to the website.

Last year, speakers included:

• Jason Lemkin, a VC, entrepreneur and founder of SaaStr

• Guillaume Princen, Stripe’s Head of France & Southern Europe

• Marc Diouane, president of Zuora

and a whole bunch of Tier 2 VCs.

This year’s, one of the speakers could be you, and you can get details here.

Tickets start at $249 (not euros) and you can get them here.

FasTrackathon, Eindhoven, Netherlands, 26 June

(Full disclosure: Dispatches Media is a FasTrackathon partner.)

We LOVE this concept: HighTechXL brings the technology, you bring the vision.

What that means in, you can walk into the FasTrackathon and walk out a couple of hours later as the CEO of a deep-tech startup. HighTechXL and the Eindhoven Startup Alliance are recruiting team members for the next crop of deep-tech ventures at HighTechXL.

Here’s how it works:

• We supply advanced technologies from research institutions such as CERN, Nikhef and TNO.

• You supply the ideas for application areas and business cases to launch a venture based on the technology.

FasTrackathon is NOT just for techies! We need skills from many domains – entrepreneurs, physicists, engineers, market researchers, operations experts, and marketing and business professionals.

We want people with an affinity for tech and need the finest entrepreneurial minds in the land. We are recruiting teams based on the technology, but we’re flexible … participate just for this event or join a venture-building team to co-found a company.

FasTrackathon is set for 26 June, 10:00-17:00, at HighTechXL, Building 27, High Tech Campus Eindhoven. Registration starts at 9:30.

Pre-register here for this cool, free event!

Startup Extreme, 24 through 26 June in Voss, Norway

This piqued our collective imaginations last year … a look at Norway’s startup ecoystem along with crazy outdoor challenges. In Norway.

Norway is kind of unusual in that it has a tiny population of about 5 million and a huge, gigantic sovereign fund because of its petroleum industry. the Norwegians are no fools … they’re pushing to become tech leaders for that day in the not-too-distant future when the oil runs out.

Now, throw in some of the most amazing vistas in the world, and you have the makings of a great event. Startup Extreme mixes low-key hiking, swimming with extreme fun including pulse-quickening whitewater and skydiving with panels and workshops.

So this is part work, part vacation for the right people. Because it ain’t cheap, though there certainly are more expensive startup/tech events that don’t offer rock climbing.

Tickets start at about 2,000 Norweigan Krone, or about 208 euros, and go up to 8,000 Krone, or about 830 euros.

You can get them here, but there’s just one catch … you have to apply, then be invited.

Tech Open Air, 2 thru 5 July in Berlin

This is sort of the Her Damit of tech conferences/festivals … the beautiful people gathered at their own Haus of Tech and forest stage on the water in Berlin talking about tech before they head to Berghain. In other words, Europe’s coolest tech conference, and one that started in 2012 as a crowd-funded, interdisciplinary effort to link the tech world and the arts.

This year, the theme is, “We make you future-proof,” and goodness knows, we’ve always wanted to be future proof.

There are some speakers worth hearing including Transferwise co-founder Taavet Hinrikus and Bruce Linton of Canopy Growth, who’s apparently figured out a way to legally monetize cannabis (dude!)

As far as we can tell, TOA is the only tech conference in July, and this is in Berlin, Europe’s coolest tech gathering. So what the heck? Tickets start at 229 euros, or 899 euros for “thought leaders,” who we imagined would get paid to attend, right? You can get your tickets here.

Wisepunk Startup Conference, 17 July in Barcelona

In our humble opinion, the thing most startup events lack is actual entrepreneurs who’ve risked everything and succeeded (or failed) spectacularly.

Well, Wisepunk Startup Conference will present in an interview format some crazy people who’ve done crazy things to follow their dream while raising millions and sometimes hundreds of millions of euros/dollars.

Our favorite: Gerard Compte, founder & CEO of Find That Lead once sold his Rolex to keep on building his business.

From the website:

We have asked each one of these extraordinary entrepreneurs to come and share their story without holding back – sharing the ups and downs, and the real story about how it really happened.

Scheduled speakers include:

• David Okuniev from Typeform

• Sacha Micheau from Glovo

• Konrad Berström, a serial entrepreneur from Sweden who, among other things, founded XShore electric boats

• Lupina Iturriaga, founder of Fintonic in Barcelona, a personal finance app now valued at about 160 million

Tickets are 129 euros and you can get yours here.

Sónar+D, 17 thru 20 July, Barcelona

Want to see the future? Then head to Barcelona in July with your MacBook, but leave your sailboard at home.

Since 2013, this Sónar+D (no, we have no idea what that stands for) attracts creative types including artists, creative technologists, musicians, filmmakers, designers, thinkers, scientists, entrepreneurs, makers and hackers … about 6,000 people from 61 countries plus a whole bunch of tech journalists.

For 2019, there are five themes: AI, music & sound tech, design, quantum computing and “the next internet.”

There are a lot of speakers/talks/seminars, but most are in the arts realm.

One of the more interesting is the crew from Teenage Engineering. The company make synthesizer used by Skrillex, James Blake, Damon Albarn, Diplo and others.

There will also be a team from Barcelona Supercomputing Center for those hankering for some actual tech.

You can see the full eclectic list here.

Tickets start at 160 euros and you can get yours here.

Seaside Startup Summit, 28 July thru 3 August, Lake Sevan, Armenia

This “let’s all gather in the great outdoors” concept is becoming a thing with startups. Seaside Startup Summit takes it to the next level in Armenia, an exotic locale on the very eastern edge of Europe most of us have never visited.

Armenia ain’t exactly The Valley, London or Berlin. Nonetheless, SSS is expecting 10,000 attendees from 40 countries,  lured to a lakeside village by a $100,000 pot of funding, 30 VCs and a bunch of speakers, seminars and workshops.

Basically SSS is selling the opportunity to sit by the fire on a lake in a country you’ve barely heard of and dream with people like us.

This is another event that looks more like a vacation than a heavy-duty startup event, but what the hell … it’s dead in the middle of summer. Why not mix business with pleasure?

You can apply to Seaside Startup Summit here.

SHIFT, 29 & 30 August in Turku, Finland

Two things jump out at us here. First, who said there are no conferences in August? Second, all anyone wants to talk with us about is artificial intelligence … and this is an AI for industries conference. The 2019 speaker list has only six names so far and SHIFT is mostly for the theoretical types. Past speakers have mostly been researchers and engineers, with a few entrepreneurs. Startup tickets are 145 euros and you can get yours here.

Intelligent Health AI 2019, 11 & 12 September in Basel

With Philips Healthcare’s R&D a major presence Dispatches’ HQ city of Eindhoven, we see regularly how AI is transforming healthcare. So we’ll be represented well 11 and 12 September in Basel for this one.

This year’s Intelligent Health AI once again brings together the global AI and health community in Switzerland to figure out how AI can be used to solve some of the world’s healthcare problems. The premise: AI can revolutionize healthcare in oncology, radiology, surgery, cardiology, genomics and other clinical areas.

The event includes clinicians, C-suite executives in pharma, biotech and medtech, policymakers and technologists. Tickets start at 49 euros for docs and other clinicians, and you can get yours here.

TechBBQ, 18 & 19 September in Copenhagen

TechBBQ got its name from its origins as a 2012 cookout with a group of entrepreneurs and techies. Like so many such gatherings, it quickly turned into a thing.

TechBBQ is a two-day international tech-startup summit by and for the startup community where you can extend your network.

We like this event because first, it’s in Copenhagen.

Second, despite it being in Copenhagen, it’s not ridiculously expensive, with tickets starting at 39 euros for students.

The speaker list for 2019 hasn’t been posted, but they’re projecting the event will reach its 7,000-person capacity quickly. So don’t delay in reserving a spot.

And no, we don’t know if there are ribs on the menu.

Rotterdam Capital Days, 18 thru 22 September

We missed the debut Rotterdam Capital Days last year, but we’ll be there this year.

Rotterdam is one of our favorite cities on every level including its startup scene. Which is on fire.

You can be part of the action in September. Last year, RCD took startups on an 88 kilometer trek around this giant city to meet 24 potential investors. Then, everyone met up for dinner and networking.

The 2019 itinerary hasn’t be posted yet, but you can ping organizers at Info@RotterdamCapitalDays.nl.

So stand by.

IT Arena, 28 thru 30 September in Lviv

IT Arena is a 6-year-old tech event with a global outlook and scale in Ukraine’s IT center.

Networking, business matchmaking and a festival spirit are IT Arena trademarks, according to the news release we got from Iryna Zubenko. (Thank you, Iryna.)

Though this is a relatively small conference, it has drawn about 100 top experts from global companies, including Facebook, Tesla, Google, eBay and Samsung. Speakers have included Sachin Rekhi, Founder & CEO at Notejoy, ex-Head of Product at Linkedin, ex-Product Manager at Microsoft, Cassie Kozyrkov, Chief Decision Scientist at Google Cloud, Martin Villig, Co-Founder at Taxify, and others.

Tickets start at $150 and you can get them here.

Bits & Pretzels, 29 September to 1 October in Munich

One of Germany’s biggest startup/tech events, B&P draws A-listers such as Tony Fadell, Sir Richard Branson, Valentine Stalf from N26 and pretty much everyone who’s anyone in the German startup scene.

This is an invitation-only event, so you have to apply to buy one of the 5,000 tickets, and our guess is, attending in 2019 will cost you about 500 euros to get in the door.

Right now, you’re buying a pig in a poke because they haven’t dropped their speaker list.

You can sign up here.

World Summit AI, 9 & 10 October in Amsterdam

From London-based InspiredMinds, the same people who put on Intelligent Health AI, World Summit AI will bring the Big Brains together to “tackle head-on the most burning AI issues and set the global AI agenda,” according to a news release.

World Summit AI organizers promise “two days of mind-boggling innovation, heated discussions on AI ethics and AI4good,” applied solutions for enterprise, workshops, knowledge-sharing, networking and entertainment.

Tickets are limited and you can get yours here starting at 199 euros for startups.

LATE IN 2019

Digital Freedom Festival, 21 & 22 November in Riga, Latvia – The goal of DFF is to unite the tech world. A surprising number of “names” as Latvia attempts to steal Estonia’s spotlight as the Baltic’s digital innovation capital.

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