From the 5th to the 8th of November 2018 in Lisbon was held the best technology conference in the world, the Web Summit. That’s the story of my first day.
I firstly would like to say thanks to all of you that have read and download my Survival Guide. I had the pleasure to met some of you and I am so happy to have been able to help you during these amazing Web Summit days. Second of all, this is the first one of four posts about my journey at the Web Summit: conferences, meetings, startups, and obviously some impressions of this edition.
In an unusually cloudy and dark Lisbon, the 5th of November I joined the Finlab meets, a Web Summit side event where fintech key players met each other to discuss the Portugal Fintech scene.
— Camillo Sirianni (@CamiSiri95) 5 novembre 2018
It was an event where regulators, startups and VCs were all there, including board members of the Bank of Portugal. I had the opportunity to be aware of the Portugal Finlab, the fast track communication channel between innovators, startups, incumbent institutions and the Portuguese regulatory authorities. It’s the results from a partnership established between Banco de Portugal (BdP), Comissão do Mercado de Valores Mobiliários (CMVM), Autoridade de Supervisão de Seguros e Fundos de Pensões (ASF), and Portugal Fintech.
Interesting Portuguese fintech startups were there such as Seedrs, Drivit, LOQR, Switch Payments. It was also presented the Portugal Fintech Report 2018, a summary of the Fintech Industry’s evolution and trends and a map of the top 25 Fintechs standing out this year.
Web Summit opening
Then, during the evening, there was the Web Summit opening at the Altice Arena in the Parque das Nações area. “If this is your first time in Lisbon, it won’t be your last” Web Summit co-founder Paddy Cosgrave told us. He was met with a round of applause when he said that Web Summit, will be held in Lisbon for 10 more years.
What really got people talking was the first talk from Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the man who invented the web almost thirty years ago (to which everyone should say thank you). He launched the Contract for the Web that aims to protect people’s rights and freedoms on the internet. It will be published in May 2019, when half of the world’s population will be able to get online. More than 50 organisations have already signed the contract.
Lisa Jackson, senior vice-president for the Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives at Apple, focused on business practices to protect the environment, saying a healthy planet doesn’t have to affect a company’s bottom line.
Antonio Guterres, the secretary general of the United Nations spoke about the benefits and challenges that come with cutting edge technologies. He highlighted that the pace of change is happening so quickly that trends such as blockchain, IoT, and artificial intelligence can move from the cutting edge to the mainstream in no time. He told us how UNICEF is now able to map a connection between school in remote areas, and the World Food Programme is using blockchain to make transactions more secure, efficient and transparent.
Portugal’s prime minister, António Costa, said that Web Summit was a “world shopfront” for Portuguese startups to achieve internationalisation and to mobilise foreign capital. He also said that the event was also a bank of ideas to introduce innovation in state services.
Fernão de Magalhães was the last name to go on stage but it marked the start of the Web Summit. The Portuguese navigator was the reference used by Fernando Medina, mayor of Lisbon, to thank Paddy Cosgrave for his promise that the Portuguese capital will be the scene of the biggest technology event in the world in the next ten years. Medina told Paddy: This man introduced Lisbon to the world, let me introduce Ferdinand Magellan. 500 years later, Lisbon becomes the capital of the world because of itself”.
Web Summit Day 1
My first day, the 6th of November, at the Web Summit started with Breakout startups talk, where I could hear the pitch from some of the world’s most exciting early and growth stage startups. Each of the startups has been hand-selected by a long list of the world’s most successful investors.
Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, announced the winning city of the European Capital of Innovation Awards at the Web Summit. The European Commission is awarding Athens the title of the European Capital of Innovation 2018 with a €1 million prize. The runner-up cities – Aarhus (Denmark), Hamburg (Germany), Leuven (Belgium), Toulouse (France), and Umeå (Sweden) – received €100,000 each.
Commissioner Moedas added: “Athens stands out as an example that a city facing many challenges can achieve great things. Through innovation, Athens has found new purpose to turn around the economic and social crisis. It is proof that it’s not the difficulties but how you raise yourself above them that matters.”
Volkswagen Group announced its development of a smart traffic management system powered by quantum computers that will replace forecasting for urban traffic volumes, transport demand and travel times with precise calculations to increase global road transport efficiency. Volkswagen presented this project, along with D-Wave Systems, the quantum computing company providing quantum computers for the project.
Rapid progress has been made in the development of quantum computing since the 2000s, and the era of early real-world quantum applications is here. The benefit of using quantum computing for such a complex task is its speed and the enormous capacity to crunch extensive data sets.
Supercomputers are often not advanced enough to use such immense volumes of information to develop an optimized solution, so quantum computers are currently the best option to forecast traffic volume, transport demand, and travel times.
At the end of the day, Young Sohn, the President of Samsung outlines how AI is helping one of the world’s biggest hardware manufacturers to stay ahead of the game. As Sohn noted in his presentation regarding artificial intelligence, “The opportunity for all of us is large, with data, AI, and the kind of compute we have, we can make big changes. All industries will be disrupted. But as tech leaders, we have an obligation to be responsible.”
Speaking for an interview with Business Insider, following the keynote speech, he expressed excitement at how far the level of interconnectivity between people and devices has already come. There are 340 trillion IP addresses already in use around the world with most of those tied into mobile devices and similar technologies and those are collecting an increasing amount of information.
For Samsung, the hope is that trend will eventually lead to veritable biodata banks that contain information pertaining to details of individuals’ lives from genomes to phenomes. That data will be useful under a wide number of circumstances from diagnosing and treating health conditions to making better-personalized recommendations and more, allowing AI to truly augment users lives’ for the better.
Startups Day 1
During this first day, I met some interesting startups and companies that are making incredible innovation in different industries. For some of them, I will write a dedicated post soon.
Virtuoso, founded in May 2018 by Andrea Severino, is the first application that rewards and remunerates people for their healthy habits. Through the usage of big data generated from more than 20.000 lifestyle apps, enables users to convert their credits in discount vouchers from a bunch of appealing and related partner (healthcare, travel and sports). The aim of Virtuoso is to become the first mass-market white box for health in the insurance market.
Clairy is a filterless natural air purifier with an outstanding design and a groundbreaking tech core, handcrafted in Italy and connected to your smartphone. It combines breakthrough technology with the power of plants to kick pollution out of your home. The second product from Clairy, Natede, is a plant holder and an air purifier, eliminating 93% of VOCs, 99% of bacteria, viruses, fine particulates, and odors with its new photocatalytic filter that never needs replacing.
Trustly is a Swedish fintech company founded in 2008 that provides a solution for online banking ePayments, offering solutions for the e-commerce industry through its direct payments technology. Trustly provides its service through PayPal and TransferWise.
SIBS, the Portuguese company that developed MB WAY, MULTIBANCO, ATM Express and PAYWATCH, presented some of the latest solutions such as Instant Payments Solution, already available in Portugal and that allows bank transfers in seconds, and Open Banking API platform, that gives to the financial community and new providers the possibility of offering innovative solutions, taking advantage of PSD2, the new payments directive.
Web Summit Day 2 ➤ bit.ly/WS18_2
Web Summit Day 3 ➤ bit.ly/WS18_3
Web Summit impressions ➤ bit.ly/WS18takeaways
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