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The 2019 Edition: 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 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!

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.

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, 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.

You can still see our remaining 2018 calendar 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

• Stefan Blumenthall 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.

dotGo, 25 March in Paris

We spend a lot of time trying to stay on top of digital trends to make good on our promise to find more skills-oriented events. Nothing is more complicated than keeping up with programing languages. Yes, companies need developers who can program in ancient languagues such as Cobal, a legacy language for mainframes. But there are new languages every day, such as GO, that make the most of multi-core processors. GO was created by Google in 2009 to address the issue of concurrency – processes executing simultaneously. A Java thread, for example, consumes megabytes of memory. Goroutines only consume about 2 kilobytes. Okay, we’re way out of our depths, now.

You can read more about GO here. OR you can GO to dot.Go in Paris and learn about it while wearing one of the those funny little berets and sipping Kir Royales.

The speaker line up isn’t public yet, so we’ll update this.

Tickets are 199 euro and you can get yours here for what figures to be a huge geek fest for people who speak in Algebraic expressions. Don’t take a date.

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

• Industry 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.

Silicon Vikings – Finland Competition, 6 March Tampere

When they’re not busy sweeping their forests, the tiny population of Finland likes to flex their global might in Formula 1 and technology. If you have a great idea, you can join in on 6 March. The Finland competition is part of SiliconVikings series across the Nordics and Baltics.

Industry categories include:

  • Digital Health
  • FinTech
  • VR/AI
  • Mobile & Security
  • Gaming

Silicon Vikings connects startups to the Valley, where the real capital is, and Silicon Valley to Northern Europe, where the real talent is.

You can fill out the application here, which is going to take awhile because they want all the info about your idea, whether you have revenue and details about your team. And as we tell the startups we work with, spelling counts.

The deadline is 5 February! But, if you make it to the Silicon Vikiings Startup World Cup Nordics in The Valley later this year, you could earn a $1 million A round.

You can see all the Silicon Vikings competitions here.

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 OurCrowd 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/startup 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.

hub.berlin, Big Data AI Summit, 10 & 11 April in Berlin

This will be year seven for hub.berlin (all lower case), a trends event in Berlin, where – with the exception of Zalando/Rocket Internet – not that many trends start. That would be Stockholm, London, Tallinn and Amsterdam. But it’s an exciting city full of smart people. Bitkom, the 2,500-member digital-industry association that puts on hub.berlin (all lower case) is trying to up Germany’s digital game, advocating for a fully integrated digital single market as well as establishing Germany as “a key driver of digital change in Europe and globally.”

Hub.berlin (all lower case) has keynotes, lectures/ discussions, interactive workshops and masterclasses, live tech demonstrations, “and an unforgettable club night.” Because it’s Berlin! There’s no 2019 speakers list yet, but past speakers include Scott Chacon from GitHub, Shane Wall, global head of HP Labs, Nora-Vanessa Wolhert from Station F and top executives from German and global powerhouses. This event runs concurrently with Bitkom’s Big Data AI industry summit. (Not to be confused with World AI Summit in Amsterdam later in the year.)

Startups can apply for free hub.berlin (all lower case) tickets, but everyone else pays … a lot! Tickets start at 790 euros, but you can transfer your pass to ONE colleague during the event. So, that’s sort of like a half-off deal.

You can get your tickets 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 past 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 a chance to win 25,000 euros 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 frsi@frsi.org.pl if you have questions. (Thanks to Magdalena Jackiewicz for sending us the Sektor 3.0 info.)

Later in 2019:

Intelligent Health AI 2019 in Basel – In Dispatches’ HQ city of Eindhoven, AI in healthcare is already an industry, and 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.

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.

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