Enterprise Ireland rejects claim it asked companies to stay away from Web Summit

Paddy Cosgrave claimed via Twitter Enterprise Ireland would not be sending delegation to conference

Web Summit founder Paddy Cosgrave at the company’s head office in Dartry, Dublin, last month. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Web Summit founder Paddy Cosgrave at the company’s head office in Dartry, Dublin, last month. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Enterprise Ireland has dismissed a claim by Web Summit founder Paddy Cosgrave that it asked client companies not to attend this year’s event, which begins in Lisbon on Monday.

An estimated 1,000 Irish people are expected to attend, but neither Enterprise Ireland or the IDA will be there en masse.

Mr Cosgrave claimed via Twitter on Sunday that due to a “timetabling issue”, Enterprise Ireland would not be sending an official delegation to the conference, although more than 100 other countries are sending official delegations.

He suggested in his Twitter comment that Enterprise Ireland had urged client companies to remain in Ireland for an alternative event it was running.

“Enterprise Ireland also have an event in Dublin next week and have asked their start-ups to stay in Dublin,” Mr Cosgrave said, adding that an IDA Ireland executive and a senior advisor to Enterprise Ireland had “ordinary attendee” tickets to the event.

In past years, both Enterprise Ireland and the IDA have been sponsors of Web Summit.

Enterprise Ireland rejected the suggestion it ordered client companies to stay away from Web Summit this week, although it is running an event called West Coast Week at the same time as the conference.

‘Well represented’

A spokesman for the agency told The Irish Times that both Enterprise Ireland and the companies it supports would be “well represented” at this year’s Web Summit. He noted that Enterprise Ireland sponsored MoneyConf, a fintech-focused sister event of the Web Summit that ran in Dublin in May.

IDA Ireland said it, too, had been a supporter of Web Summit since it earliest days and confirmed that three executives would be in Lisbon for the event this week.

The State bodies won’t be the only noticeable absences at this year’s event. Former Barcelona player Ronaldinho, who was among the listed speakers, looks set to miss out after Brazilian authorities reportedly seized his passport due to outstanding debts.

More than 70,000 attendees from 170 countries are expected at this year’s Web Summit. Overall, 23 conferences are taking place across nine main stages and an estimated 1,200 speakers are expected, including Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, former British prime minister Tony Blair, and the inventor of the World Wide Web Tim Berners-Lee.

Parking spaces

While it is the speakers that often grab the headlines, for hundreds of start-ups, Web Summit is all about business.

Rob Kramer, chief executive of Irish tech start-up Parkio, which has developed a mobile app that helps drivers with parking spaces said he was intending to use the event to meet up with both investors and potential partners, who might agree to pilot the company’s solution.

“Web Summit is huge and if it is your first time you will get lost no matter how prepared you are,” he warned.

The Irish-founded tech conference started in Dublin in 2009 with fewer than 400 attendees. It moved to Lisbon in 2016 and recently agreed a €110 million deal to remain in the city for another 10 years.