it Was with a lot of pomp and circumstance, with lights, electronic music, and confetti, and with a prime minister who declared himself "very excited" which kicked off the first edition of the Web Summit in Portugal. The event, which brings together the startups, managers and investors, will be in Lisbon for at least three years, and António Costa said he hoped the 53-thousand participants to the "remember Portugal as a dynamic, progressive and open to business".
The Meo Arena was almost full (and there were still people outside the pavilion watching the ceremony on a screen), when, with half an hour late, Paddy Cosgrave, co-founder of the Web Summit, took to the stage. "Wow, this is completely crazy", was the first stage shot, before you remember that the event began in 2010, in Dublin, with 400 people. Cosgrave asked after the audience that caught on mobile phones and shared on Facebook the video of the opening session was broadcast live – but a technical fault was eventually spoil the moment.
it Was after the time of António Costa, whose Government has been the major promoter of the Web Summit, after the previous executive have convinced the company of Paddy Cosgrave to change the event from Dublin to the capital of portugal, which meant, according to it was then announced, a public investment of 1.3 million euros a year. In an intervention in which he mixed Portuguese and English, the prime minister said that, in the coming days, “Lisbon will be the world capital of entrepreneurship” and argued that "it is this environment of experimentation and continuous availability to take the risk that imports stimulate”. The Web Summit has motivated in recent weeks articles in the international press that compare Lisbon to centres of entrepreneurship such as san Francisco or Berlin, although the dimension of the ecosystem of the startups Portuguese is smaller.
Hours before, the Coast announced a new program to finance the investment risk with public money. This is a line of finance of 200 million euros, to which private investors should join the other so much. In the presentation, the prime minister said that there companies in sectors such as robotics and biotechnology have had difficulties to find financing in Portugal. This new instrument will join a line of credit for business angels (which they invest at the beginning of the life of the startups) that amounted to 26 million euros of european money, and of which 18 million are already provisionally allocated.
As usual in the events leading up to the Web Summit, the opening had a participation policy. At the ceremony were also the State secretary of Industry, João Vasconcelos, and the president of the chamber of Lisbon, Fernando Medina, who has given Cosgrave the key to the city. For the exchange, Cosgrave had a pen USB in the shape of a key, which would serve to mark the start of the official of the Web Summit. The irishman hesitated between giving it to Medina, of one side, or the Coast, which was on the other. The prime minister eventually extend the arm in the direction of Medina, and was the mayor to get the key and use it to make a symbolic official inauguration.
Technology facilitates contacts
For the many startups on the Web Summit – 67 of which came in the event with the support of the government – this week is an opportunity to meet potential customers and investors. Throughout the various pavilions of the FIL, companies will make contacts, helped by the technology developed by the Web Summit. The event has an application for the various participants to come in contact, as well as an algorithm that suggests links that might be interesting for each one. In parallel, there is a series of lectures and discussions, on topics ranging from the impact of technology on health and sport, to the future of the automotive industry. Among the speakers this Tuesday, is the director of technology of Facebook, Mike Schroepfer, and Carlos Ghosn, one of the executives most powerful in the automobile industry, which presides over the Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi.