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    startup cities track

brave new world: me Convention’s ‘startup cities’ will give insider takes on the globe’s leading tech hubs

Ready, set, explore! Everyone knows that the startup world now extends far beyond traditional bastions of tech like San Francisco and New York. But media attempts to summarize the new tech territory can be dizzying: the Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2018 included deep dives into 43 different ecosystems, covering everywhere from Seattle to Shanghai.

Here’s where the me Convention comes in. The conference believes it’s vital to learn about the most exciting new startup hubs from insiders, not statisticians — people who have set up shop in each city and have an intuitive grasp of what makes it tick. During the Startup Cities track (September 5-6), leading startup figures from across the globe will explain what makes their city so essential as a force for technological progress. The clock will be ticking, though: each speaker will have just ten minutes to convince audiences.

We’re excited to welcome representatives from the following startup cities at 2018’s me Convention:

  • Antwerp, Belgium
  • São Paulo, Brazil
  • Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Aarhus, Denmark
  • Vienna, Austria
  • Belfast, United Kingdom
  • Hamburg, Germany
  • Almaty, Kazakhstan
  • Porto, Portugal
  • Cape Town, South Africa
    and more to come!

Already confirmed is the CEO of the Association of the Bulgarian Leaders and Entrepreneurs (ABLE), Denitsa Simeonova. Simeonova’s organisation caters to over 200 startups but she also has firsthand experience of Sofia’s bustling startup scene thanks to roles at the blockchain-based Open Source University and at Leaders Academy.

Simeonova will be joined by Daniel Plotrino, repping for São Paulo. Plotrino is the director of FIESP (the Federation of Industry of the state of São Paulo). FIESP acts as Latin America’s biggest startup hub — Plotrino uses his time there to help develop the Brazilian startup ecosystem and to connect it with other startup hotspots around the globe.

Why is Cape Town so essential for tech right now? Sw7 co-founder Keith Jones will be on hand to explain. Sw7 (Start with Seven) is Africa’s largest technology accelerator — it has accelerated over 150 tech businesses and coordinates over 100 tech CEOs as mentors.

Internet entrepreneur and angel investor Alexey Li will be joining the program to explain why Kazakhstan’s former capital, Almaty, is one to watch. As the co-founder of Kazakhstan’s largest online travel agency and the founder of the first Kazakhstan online ticketing platform for movies, plays, sports and cultural events, Li is uniquely positioned to argue for the strengths of this fascinating city.

When you think of Antwerp, you might think of cutting-edge fashion, beautiful old buildings and diamonds. Not anymore! Entrepreneur and economic consultant Julie Van Nuwenborg will be appearing at startup cities to argue why digital innovation is every bit as essential to Belgium’s coolest city as its offline industries.

In her current role as a digital innovation project manager for the city itself, Van Nuwenborg is the perfect candidate to represent Antwerp. Extending beyond the public sector – she also founded ‘Bedrijvenloket,’ a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs.

Joining the lineup will be Line Gerstrand, Internet Week Denmark co-founder, who will be explaining why Aarhus –not Copenhagen – is the Danish tech city most worthy of your attention. If she can’t convince you, who can? The internet expert works as a project manager and consultant for the city of Aarhus with a focus on building a Smart Aarhus and the sharing economy amongst other things.

Entrepreneur Maria Miguel will be outlining what makes Porto so special as a tech city. And she would know — Miguel co-founded and works as a director at Startup Portugal, a nonprofit organization created to support entrepreneurs and investors hoping to set up businesses in Portugal.

With a background in business journalism, she has an intimate knowledge of the stories of countless startups – and it was this very knowledge that inspired her to become a founder herself. On top of all this, Miguel worked for two years as a special advisor to the Portuguese government, helping to design public policy on entrepreneurship.
Photo: Rieka Anscheit

There’s one bohemian, tech-focused German city that you should get excited about — and no, it’s not Berlin. Hamburg Startups co-founder Sanja Stankovic will be appearing at me Convention to argue that it’s Germany’s most famous port city that offers a real edge when it comes to tech. Stankovic is the perfect addition to our program, having also co-founded StartupSpot Germany, a platform offering a transparent overview of all of the country’s startups and which offers deep data insights into regions such as Hamburg, Baden-Württemberg, Rhine-Main and Central Germany.

Tom Gray, a 30 year tech veteran, will be arguing why Belfast is the one tech destination you need to explore. As the director of Digital Catapult Northern Ireland and software company Kainos’ CTO and Director of Innovation, he’s been the driving force behind many of Kainos’s most innovative initiatives. These include HealthHackEU; Kainos’ artificial intelligence masterclass for students, AI Camp; “summer’s biggest tech event for teens” CodeCamp and Code4Derry (a programme run by Kainos to match IT students and graduates up with local government to promote better access to and improve services). In addition to all this, Gray founded and curates content for the annual BelTech conference which has a strong focus on emerging digital technology. There are few individuals more qualified to address the innovation and dynamism of Northern Ireland’s capital city.

Gabrielle Costigan will bring a touch of melody to Startup Cities by representing the City of Music. Costigan makes the ideal representative for Vienna as the Managing Director of weXelerate, one of Europe’s largest multi-corporate accelerators. She previously spent 10 years in the oil and gas industry in the Middle East as well as spending 10 years at Accenture, working with Fortune 500 companies in strategy, intelligent operations, digital value creation and innovation.

So don’t delay — get up to speed with some of the world’s most dynamic startup cities and register now.

Disclaimer: The views of me Convention speakers do not necessarily reflect the opinions of either Mercedes-Benz and/or SXSW.