Some 15,000 visit Ukrainian pavilion
LISBON, Portugal – For the first time in the history of the world’s largest technology conference, Ukraine hosted a pavilion at Web Summit 2021 that attracted some 15,000 people during on November 1-4.
The summit, first held in 2009, is described by event organizers as “the most important tech event in the world.” This year’s event attracted some 43,000 attendees.
At the Ukrainian pavilion, members of the country’s IT sector were represented by 14 startup and 10 established companies.
The creation of the national pavilion resulted from joint efforts of the Council of Exporters and Investors at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, the Embassy of Ukraine in Portugal, the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Startup Fund and several business associations.
“The presentation of the domestic technological ecosystem is an important component of work to promote the image of Ukraine as a high-tech state. The Council of Exporters and Investors at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine is making systematic efforts to build our country’s technical brand in the world, the logical continuation of which is the national pavilion at Web Summit 2021,” said Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Senik.
Web Summit has been described as the most important tech event in the world. Among speakers in previous editions of the summit were Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, Al Gore, Bono and U.N. Secretary General António Guterres.
The conference’s topics center on internet technology, emerging technologies and venture capitalism. Web Summit’s partners range from Fortune 500 companies to startups, with attendees representing all levels and sectors of the global high technology industry.
“The conference bridges the gap between creativity and tech while balancing sober dialogue with the optimistic ethos synonymous with innovation,” Forbes magazine wrote about the event. Politico has referred to the summit as a Davos for millennials.
This year the Web Summit had more than 40,000 participants, with 2,000 startup companies represented, as well as 1,100 investors and 2,200 media representatives. Speakers at the Web Summit included one of the founders of the internet, Tim Berners-Lee, Microsoft President Brad Smith, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone and Amazon CTO Werner Vogels, among others.
“Ukrainian entrepreneurs have long been participating in the Web Summit – presenting their startups, looking for partners, becoming part of the global tech community. My colleagues and I have been coming here for years. We noticed that many Ukrainians took part in this event; last year, there were about 500 people from Ukraine. But we have never been represented as a country or a separate ecosystem. Visitors from other countries had very different information about our country, and there was not a central place that would present Ukraine as a whole,” said Olesya Maliovana, coordinator of the Ukrainian pavilion at the Web Summit.
“We wanted to provide more structured information about how the Ukrainian technological community is developing now, what representatives we have, what funds we have, how we have a well-established investment system. Thanks to this, representatives of other countries will have an idea of how to contact us and what we can offer as an ecosystem: what companies we have, what startups are developing in Ukraine,” Ms. Maliovana said.
The team behind Ukraine’s pavilion said they wanted to give the technology world a holistic view of the industry in Ukraine. Organizers said that people who visit the pavilion know very little about the Ukrainian tech ecosystem, so it’s worth educating them about technology in Ukraine.
“In addition to the stand, on the first day of the Web Summit, we held an event to present the Ukrainian technological ecosystem from its representatives: the state, embassy, companies, non-profit organizations.
Everyone from their field spoke about what is happening in our country now and what our strategy is: where we are moving, how we plan to develop, what difficulties we have,” Ms. Maliovana told The Weekly’s correspondent in Lisbon.
On November 2, as part of the official Web Summit program, a thematic master class, “Hidden Gem: Ukraine’s Tech Ecosystem at a Glance,” was held. The class showcased the products, services and solutions of well-known Ukrainian technology companies.
The event was opened by Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation for IT Development Oleksandr Bornyakov, Ambassador of Ukraine to Portugal Inna Ognivets and Director of the Ukrainian Startup Fund Pavlo Kartashov.
In her speech, Ms. Ognivets noted that the Ukrainian pavilion at Web Summit 2021 was the result of consolidated action of individuals from the public and business sectors. Given that the Web Summit is a platform for cooperating with foreign partners, attracting foreign investment and promoting the country’s IT capabilities, Ukraine should use the platform to realize its ambitions to transform Ukraine into a global IT hub, Ms. Ognivets said.
The Council of Exporters and Investors at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine is a platform where the Ministry of Foreign Affairs accumulates information on investment and trade opportunities worldwide and facilitates business contacts between Ukrainian exporters and importers abroad.
“People know that the Ukrainian IT industry has a lot of talent,” Ms. Maliovana said. “Many companies try to hire our engineers, so they know that Ukrainians are a creative community. Many Ukrainians are project managers in global technology companies and are known as effective managers. But few people know that we already have five unicorns (companies with capitalization of more than $1 billion) because they think that we are a country that is just beginning to enter the global IT arena.”
“Most people think that we have poorly formed legislation for startups. It was interesting and new for many visitors to learn that we have a state fund that invests in startups,” Ms. Maliovana said.
The Ukrainian Startup Fund has already invested in more than 100 startups, she said.
The pavilion has already embarked on partnerships with Brazil, Portugal, Hungary, and Italy in the development of tech industries. According to Ms. Maliovana, those partnerships include cooperation with local incubators and accelerators – organizations that help startups grow into successful, established businesses.
Web Summit also included a startup competition. Throughout the conference, hundreds of startups presented their ideas and had a chance to speak about their products on the main stage, where tens of thousands of Web Summit participants gather. Ukrainian startup Effa won the qualification pitch round and presented on the main stage. Effa is an example of an innovative Ukrainian startup. The company manufactures completely recyclable and renewable paper travel amenities, among them toothbrushes.
Among other Ukrainian startups at the Web Summit were Finmap, an online service for financial accounting in small and micro businesses; GIOS, a mobile application that helps individuals learn math and develop critical thinking; Djooky, a music trading platform that gives artists access to a global investor community and investors the opportunity to trade a new class of assets.