The largest technology and entrepreneurship event will kick off today, in Lisbon.
At 6.00 p.m., the main stage of MEO Arena will light up to receive co-founder of the WS Paddy Cosgrave, prime minister António Costa, state secretary for Industry João Vasconcelos, among others. For the first time, the largest entrepreneurship and technology event in the world will take place in Portugal, after having left its birth city, Dublin, in November 2015.
There will be over 50,000 people participating in conferences, seeing and showing themselves in small stands at FIL, and discovering the greatest innovations from all over the world currently taking place.
Aside from its participants – coming from 165 countries –, the Web Summit will bring 1,500 investors to Lisbon: João Vasconcelos considers this to be the best opportunity to show the world the best version of Portugal. Meanwhile, this Saturday – two days before the opening –, the organization announced the tickets had sold out.
In total, there are 53,056 participants in the Web Summit, surpassing the goal set by the organizers. “We had always said we wanted to have 50 thousand participants in Lisbon in 2016, so we decided to stop selling tickets”, Paddy Cosgrave announced in a press release, adding it is “incredible we have reached this number of participants; only six years ago, in Dublin, the first Web Summit had 400 people participating”.
The number of attendees – plus the 19,000 other people who signed up for the side events – represent twice the number of last year’s, when the event still took place in Ireland’s capital city. From the 72 thousand registered participants, more than 7.700 of them are Portuguese, including 239 startups, 170 investors and 30 business partners. The event’s organization disclosed this Friday the list of the 50 companies that best spark up the curiosity of investors, and seven of them are Portuguese. Representing Portugal and, selected within the Road2 Web Summit programme, are 66 Portuguese startups as well, chosen in a pitch round.
The Web Summit has also contributed to a change in the perception of Lisbon, and generally, of Portugal: The Guardian or Reuters, for example, during the week previous to the event, have published extensive essays where they compare the capital city to some of the most important entrepreneurial cities from around the world such as California or Berlin.
Meanwhile, the first participants of the summit have arrived during the weekend, many of them to participate in the Surf Summit, in Ericeira. The impact of the event will be seen before and during, but mainly after the Web Summit has ended, says Paddy Cosgrave: “We must think of the impact in the medium and long term. It is only natural for people to think the summit is great for hotels, restaurants and taxi drivers. But I believe we must think in the long term: in what way can the Web Summit change the perception the world has of Portugal?”.
The Web Summit programme does not end after the final conference of each day by the over 660 guest speakers who will be heard during the week – nights will be filled with entertainment. After the inaugural session, in Parque das Nações, Pub Crawls will begin in Bairro Alto and Cais do Sodré (iconic Lisbon nightlife sites). Side events will take place in other parts of the city: Uniplaces, Traddio and EatTasty will have artists singing in a shower in a house in Intendente, for example. The organizers have also prepared a map to help attendees schedule what best fits their timetable.
Concerning the relevance given to entrepreneurship in Portugal, the government is presenting today a new co-financing fund of over 200 million euros.