While politicians, scientists, NGOs, and activists flocked to Glasgow for COP26, the world of technology descended on the seven hills of Lisbon and the Altice arena for the long-awaited return of Web Summit. By anyone’s standards, the event staged a miraculous post-Covid comeback.
Startups, VCs, entrepreneurs, journalists (and PRs) flocked back to the in-person event, exceeding even the organiser’s expectations by selling out and hitting 42,000 international attendees. And to add the cherry on top of the cake, for the first time in the event’s 10-year history, there were more women than men in attendance, at 50.5 per cent.
With full attendance and a diverse audience, what can one of the most significant technology conferences on the planet offer? In a nutshell, everything.
Whether it be inspiring talks from business leaders on the main stage, short, sharp startup pitching sessions, or deeper dives into the ever-growing list of “-techs” on the side stages, all topics within the wonderful world of technology were covered and it truly is an event for all. It was highlighted throughout the event just how important technology has become as an industry, employing more than two million people in Europe alone – and with more 200,000 current vacancies there is clearly a demand for more.
As with so many large conferences, it really was a game of two halves. What you learnt and who you met during the day would be tested as the sun set and everyone flocked back into town each evening to attend the myriad networking drinks and dinners on offer.
At FieldHouse, we’re never ones to shy away from a party, so we seized the opportunity to host our own drinks, at The Valverde Hotel in town (we highly recommend it!). What struck us was the diversity of individuals who we managed to meet during our jam-packed first day of Web Summit.
From startups looking for their first step onto the funding ladder, to advisors for the burgeoning cannabis sector and sports journalists interested in how AI can combat racism on the football pitch, all were at Web Summit – and at our party. Not only were new contacts made and opportunities created, but long-standing FieldHouse friendships were built upon. Indeed, what happened at Web Summit away from the main stage is just as important as the insights we gained at the arena.
It was not all just networking drinks into the early hours of the morning, however, and there is an important reason why Web Summit stood out as a highlight event of the year. There are only a few times each year when everyone from every corner of the technology ecosystem comes together.
The bigger issues facing the world were discussed, with climate, health, and finance all being key themes for Web Summit this year. While the politicians and scientists gathered in Glasgow for COP26, there were surely meetings and introductions at Web Summit that will play a crucial role in combating some of the biggest challenges we face. Who knows, maybe they even met at the FieldHouse drinks party…