This year, the Web Summit took place online but that didn’t make Lisbon less of a showstopper for the tech industry. For 3 days, the Web Summit app and website were booming with national and international speakers, whose ideas will shape the future of business. The capacity for having tens of thousands of people all showing up at the same time for conferences with hundreds of speakers makes this the online event of the year. Looking to understand the opportunities that lie ahead on the road to innovation, we at Lisbon Tech Guide took our virtual seats and listened attentively to what the experts had to say. These were the most discussed subjects during the 3 days of Web Summit 2020:
The ramifications of the Covid-19 pandemic in history are still left to be seen but it is undoubtedly life-changing for all generations of 2020. The impact on the way we do business, socialise, and carry out our everyday tasks was certainly a reminder throughout.
The winner of the Web Summit Pitch competition also reflected this year’s concern with health: Lalibela Global-Networks, an Ethiopian company that developed a product for hospital management in Africa was announced the winner. The system, named ABAY-CHR, digitalises hospital management processes to help save hundreds of thousands of dollars in paperwork each year for African hospitals. The goal is to achieve more efficient patient care in Africa.
And the reason is the language barriers and economic fragmentation of the European Union, which stifle their growth, according to Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition. On this edition of the Web Summit, the Commissioner contributed with her analysis on the European Union’s market, considering it not the "single market" it aspired to be and that, because of this, it has not yet succeeded in being the fountain of large technology companies such as those in the United States or China.
Upon the announcement of Joe Biden as the next president of the United States, European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, contacted the president-elect’s administration to start a partnership on the pandemic, climate change, and also digital change. Asked how such a partnership could be undermined if the targeted companies were American, Vestager assured that everyone is welcome to do business in Europe: "This is not about where you come from, it's about what you do, what role you have in the market".
In 2020, the value of technology companies is estimated to have risen by almost 50% and 20% of the Recovery and Resilience Plan will be applied to digital investment. This was European Commission’s President, Ursula von der Leyen, take on the topic of technology, also addressing its regulations and challenges, especially during the pandemic. She began by thanking the 'technology pioneers' for allowing events like the Web Summit to continue in the current context and said that “Europe is attracting more capital to startups than any other region in the world," adding that the pandemic was a "catalyst for change.
For an hour, we were left in the hands of the Web Summit’s platform algorithm, which, through the profiles and areas of interest of the participants, generates hypothetically winning connections. It can be considered a sort of blind date, in a time where meetings are highly discouraged. At each virtual meeting, we had three minutes to meet the person on the other side of the screen. If the chemistry was there, we could hit "connect" to deepen the chat on the platform; otherwise, we’d just launch a cordial "goodbye" and went looking for better luck on a new date. Could this be the new way of random encounters? We’ll have to wait and see.