Cantillon: Web Summit can’t seem to quit Dublin

Apparently this is the last time it will be in the city but we’ve heard that one before

 Paddy Cosgrave: founder of The Web Summit. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Paddy Cosgrave: founder of The Web Summit. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

 

This year’s Web Summit may be the last in Dublin – now where have we heard that before? Summit organiser Paddy Cosgrave clearly likes to keep local administrators and planners on their toes.

At a press conference on Wednesday to announce details of this year’s event in November, Cosgrave noted that, as far back as 2011, the organisers had “held meetings in Number 10 Downing Street”. Very impressive but, four years on, there’s no sign of it moving to the UK.

The latest suggestion is that the event could move to Lisbon, although Cosgrave said on Wednesday that no decision has yet been made.Cosgrave is no stranger to organising events abroad. He already runs the Collision start-up event in Las Vegas and, earlier this year, held Rise in Hong Kong, where PCH’s Liam Casey was among the speakers.

New additions to this year’s summit in Dublin include Office Hours, a form of speed dating for start-ups with leading investors, and an Angel Summit of 500 angel investors ahead of the event proper. Other new features include a fashion and a healthtech summit.

For all Cosgrave’s showmanship, his achievements are not to be sniffed at. Web Summit has become a must-do event for many in the sector and attracts large numbers of international visitors – Cosgrave said as many as 90 per cent of the up to 30,000 visitors expected would be flying in for the occasion.

Fáilte Ireland estimated that last year’s event, which attracted 22,500 visitors over the three days, was worth about €100 million to the economy. And Cosgrave said that around €1.2 billion has been raised by the 3,000 or so start-ups that have attended the event since it started in 2010.

This year, Cosgrave is promising keynotes from Tinder chief executive Sean Rad and Ed Catmull, founder of animation studio Pixar, alongside speakers from outside the business world such as Tour De France winner Chris Froome and bestselling author Dan Brown.

But some hardy annuals will still feature – not least the battle for adequate wifi coverage.

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