40,000 tech enthusiasts met at Lisbon Web Summit last week and the Digital Hub Initiative was right in the thick of things, with a delegation of 100 including representatives from the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, the Ministry of Transportation and Digital Infrastructure, Germany Trade and Invest, RCKT, Digital Hubs and 37 start-ups (20 exhibiting). German Minister for Transport & Digital Infrastructure Andreas Scheuer, German Ambassador to Portugal Martin Ney and the head of Economics Ministry's Department for Digital and Innovation Policy, Stefan Schnorr, opened the German booth on the first day by encouraging all German start-ups to seize the opportunity the event presented. That they did. The German booth welcomed 4,200 visitors over the two days.
Responsible Tech and Innovation
Climate was one of the key themes. Over 200 impact start-ups were registered, and the summit itself implemented a ban on plastic at the event. Portugal's Minister for Economy and Digital Transformation, Pedro Siza Vieira, stressed that the only way to accelerate the green transition is by investing in digital technologies. The Portuguese government has devoted considerable funds to renewable energy sources, digital infrastructure and 5G technology in the past years, and that has accelerated the country's advancement.
Sustainability was also top of the agenda at the Digital Hub Initiative's side event “An Afternoon of Optimism,” organized by Germany Trade and Invest, Factory Berlin and the Ethical Assembly at Factory Lisbon, the future Tech Start-Up Innovation Centre. 5 start-ups of the Digital Hub Initiative pitched their business models to an international jury and a 300-strong crowd of start-ups, VCs, ecosystem enablers and representatives of the Portuguese culture and creativity scene. TechCrunch Journalist and Editor Mike Butcher moderated the event. Winner Victoria Engelhardt earned herself an exclusive workshop with pitch doctor Christoph Sollich for her pregnancy app Keleya. 150 guests attended the subsequent executive dinner, including Minister Scheuer, Ambassador Ney, Head of Department Schnorr, VCs, members of the German-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce and media representatives.
Europe the new start-up hotspot
The summit highlighted Europe's growing status as a place to be for start-ups. Success stories such as data processing company Celonis, neobank N26 or fintech newcomer Mambu presented their business models, illustrating how much the German start-up ecosystem has to offer. International VCs such as Accel, Sequoia or Softbank have recognized this potential and have stepped up their investments in recent years. This sense of things beginning to take off was contagious, and our delegation, too, went home with lots of new connections, ideas and inspiration.
Looking Forward to Next Year
Web Summit 2021 was a huge success for the Digital Hub Initiative. The German presence was able to draw attention to Germany's start-up ecosystem and network our start-ups and hub managers with VCs, corporates and potential clients. Furthermore, new international relationships were forged with the Spanish Secretary of State Carme Artigas and AIECEP Portugal Global and other international initiatives. With this in mind: See you next year, Lisboa!