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

Okay, summer break is over and it’s time to go back to work. And we’re going back to a fast-changing business European business environment.

The center of the digital universe used to be London still produces far more innovative new companies than any other city with the possible exception of Tel Aviv. But with Brexit looming, 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 Global Entrepreneurship Summit, 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. HighTechXL teams just returned (as winners) from Get in the Ring in Berlin pumped and inspired.

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.


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.


Startupnight, 6 September in Berlin

This is what we’re talking about … an event focused on startups rather than on making money for the organizers. Though it’s a naked ploy by a number of German corporates to talent-spot. But big companies have big buck to invest, so that’s okay with us.

Startupnight is designed to introduce startups to corporates, investors and potential customers.

Startupnight startup categories for 2019 are:

• The Next Gigabit Society, which basically means 5G.

• Connected World, which covers IoT.

• Smart Data Economy, which covers AI, Big Data and cybersecurity.

• Future Mobility, which – duh – comes down to autonomous vehicles.

• The Next Next, or the new new thing as Michael Lewis calls it. That includes quantum computing, blockchain and neuro-feedback tech.

• Foodtech, or new ways of creating food out of sustainable ingredients, then dealing creatively with the food waste.

Now, here’s why this is such a big deal. You could find yourself in a room with talent scouts from big VCs and even bigger multinationals including Volkswagen, Deutsche Telekom and E.On,

If you’re used to smallish startup events, this is a much bigger deal. Organizers are expecting 250 startup teams, and this event is spread out over several venues.

(UPDATEApplications for startups are closed for 2019, but there’s always next year. You can still pay to attend, with tickets starting at 200 euros, though the exhibition entry fee is 10 euros.)

If you have a startup in Berlin – and come on; like who doesn’t? – you really should sign up for this night of events.

IFA+Summit, 8 & 9 September in Berlin

We had to think long and hard about this one, which is pretty expensive … and, judging by the vague description on the event landing page, kinda esoteric:

IFA+Summit gathers leading thinkers and creative visionaries who draw inspiration for the next exponential technologies. 

But thinking long and hard, we arrived at the conclusion that IFA+Summit really does bring together some of the smartest people on the planet.
The theme this year is: “Shifting Patterns: The Rise of Dataism” (which isn;’t a word.)  Topics range from blockchain to digital ethics to bioethics.

Speakers include:

• Jerry Chow, senior manager of  IBM’s Quantum System Technology Group

• Dino Flore, Qualcomm’s VP of Technology

• Ann Marie Sastry, co-founder Sakti3, which was sold to Dyson

• Shermin Voshmgir, founder of BlockchainHub

Tickets start at 349 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.

Blockchance Conference 2019, 16 & 17 September in Hamburg

It appears that Hamburg wants to be a blockchain hub because this event has experts from the four corners of the globe (which we thought was round, but what do we know.)

Blockchance is another chance to dive into an emerging technology, in this case distributed ledgers. Which is a lot more exciting than it sounds.

Blockchain is the digital, unbreakable verification technology that a lot of industries need from banks to Internet resellers.

(We’ve written a lot about blockchain including about John Pellew’s Othera platform connecting lenders and borrowers.)

Blockchance isn’t inexpensive to attend, with tickets starting at 180 euros for one day, but we’re used to seeing triple-digit entry fees. We don’t like it, but we’re used to i.

For that 180 euros, you get an estimated 1,500 exhibition and 750 conference visitors, more than 50 national and international speakers as well as more than 30 exhibitors from the Blockchain ecosystem.

Speakers include execs from IBM, Ripple and the directors of several blockchain programs including at the Stuttgart börse.

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

So stand by.

Disruptive Technology for Defense Transformation, 24 through 26 September in London

For better or worse, military research has given the world advanced consumer technology from antiseptic operating rooms to the Internet. The reality in 2019 is that the world’s militaries are – like big corporations – turning to startups and innovators, searching for tactical advantages in the digital age including cybersecurity and social media.

The U.S. Department of Defense – and DARPA in particular – are always ready to fund the next gee-whiz tech. And of course, the Free World connects at NATO. Which is why Disruptive Technology for Defense Transformation is open to the public.

Fortunately, we’re fluent in milspeak, so we can translate for you.

You can benefit by:

  • getting in front decision-makers, who are “shortening their procurement cycles and accelerating integration of technologies from traditional and commercial solution providers.” That means they’ll buy your stuff really fast.
  • gain first-hand insights into “near, mid, and long-term development plans of NATO militaries to align your systems to capability requirements and secure future partnerships.” That means you can anticipate what they’re going to need before they issue RFPs.
  • showcase your “C4ISR and RAS solutions to Armed Forces’ thought leaders, as they finalise requirements for the future Joint Force.” That means they need solutions to integrate all the stuff militaries do from analyzing intel to command-and-control to secure communications.

This is free, and you can register here.

Amsterdam Capital House, 23 through 25 September

The world is awash in capital. But finding early stage risk capital in the Netherlands can be challenging. Trust us … Dispatches is based in Eindhoven.

Amsterdam Capital House intends to push past that, hooking you up with human capital, capital capital and social capital.

This is a quasi-invitation event with room at the “house” for 500 guests. You have to answer questions to get the “keys” to open the house and see all the events and details.

Keys start at 175 euros and you can buy yours here.

IT Arena, 27 thru 29 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.

They just announced the first group of speakers including and they’re impressive:

• Margit Wennmachers, chief marketer and an operating partner at Andreessen Horowitz, better know as a16z.

• Fatoumata Ba, founder and CEO of Janngo, a tech-for-good platform in Africa. Ba is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader.

Oh, and stop the presses … we just got this:

We are excited to announce that President Barack Obama will join Bits & Pretzels 2019! President Obama, the 44th President of the United States, joins our stage to share his passion and wisdom that already changed history. He inspires people to take action and change their world for the better. It’s this will for a positive change that makes him the perfect guest. We as progressive change-makers believe in tech entrepreneurship as the most important lever to build and shape a better future. With his wisdom, President Obama will bring the whole Bits & Pretzels community inspiration and motivation to take this mission further. 

You can sign up here.

PS – Jessica Alba will be there, as well. (Just got the email.) We didn’t know why but the email from B&P reminded us she founded The Honest Company startup. (Love the name.)


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.

HighTech Venture Days 2019, 15 & 16 October in Dresden

With low barriers to entry, things like app-based concepts and digital media don’t take a huge amount of early stage investment. But deep tech, manufacturing and healthcare … well, those are hugely capital intensive from the giddy-up.

HighTech Venture Days puts 40 high-tech startups and growth companies from the six key technology fields (Machinery & Plant Engineering, Microelectronics & Nanoelectronics, ICT, Environment-/Energy Technologies, Materials, Life Sciences, and Transport & Logistics) in front of serious investors.

The funny thing is, you can’t just show up because only the 40 selected startups and investors attend. Small crowd, big deals.

That said, you can still attend as investor with tickets starting at 520 euros. Tickets for the final event are 149 euros.

If you have a startup that will need serious funding, put this annual event on your calendar for next year.


Devoxx, Ukraine and Belgium in early November

There are two Devoxx coders and developers conferences coming up late this year, both dedicated to discussing Java and the newest innovations in programming languages, AI, machine learning, security and, well, you get the idea. Because people who can code rule the world.

Devoxx Ukraine is 1 & 2 November in Kyiv. Devoxx Belgium is 4 through 8 November in Antwerp, one of our favorite cities.

Speakers in Ukraine include:

• Rafael Benevides from Red Hat

• Venkat Subramaniam from Agile Developer

• Ray Tsang from Google

• Oleg Šelajev from Oracle

Early bird tickets in Kyiv start at $260 and you can get them here.

Antwerp hasn’t dropped its list yet. Tickets start at 350 euros (it’s a much larger event) and you can get yours here.

Both events are part of the Devoxx network of Java events that include Ukraine, Poland, Belgium, Morocco and other countries.

Codemotion Berlin, 12 & 13 November

We promised to list more skill-building events, and here’s a good one. Codemotion is coming to Berlin in November. Codemotion events are a multi-track international events chiefly aimed at developers and coders and focused on Devops, Blockchain, AI/Machine Learning, Inspirational, IoT, Big Data, Front-end, Cloud, Cybersecurity, Serverless, Software Architecture, Design, and UX. Ah, but there’s so much more. It’s also a forum for GitHub, DAZN, Google, IBM, Oracle, ING, Microsoft, Cisco and other tech companies to show off their latest tech and recruit talent.

The speaker list for 2019 includes execs from GitHub, Lyft, N-26, Amazon Web Services and Uber. Early bird tickets start at 160 euros and you can get them  here.

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. But DFF still hasn’t updated its website with 2019 info.

European Women in Tech, 26 & 27 November in Amsterdam

Liberated from the perceived (mostly by men) “wisdom” they aren’t good at math and science, more women are playing a bigger roles in tech both as engineers and developers, and as managers. If that’s you, Women in Tech is another big event in the Netherlands. Two hundreds speakers and a projected 4,000 attendees over two days.

Speakers announced so far include Corinne Vigreux, a Tom Tom co-founder, Ödgärd Andersson, chief digital officer at Volvo Cars,

Dr. Loubna Bouarfa, founder/CEO of OKRA Technologies, an AI analytics startup in healthcare, and a ton of men and women representing the world’s largest tech companies including Google and Lucent. So there’s likely someone here you’ll want to hear/meet.

Tickets start at 345 euros and you can get them here.

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