Belfast Telegraph

Web Summit 2015: Final year in Ireland for event with all the pomp of a rock show

By John Mulgrew

For those who haven't visited the Web Summit in Dublin, it's hard to comprehend just how big and fat the tech event has grown.

It's been compared to a large, full scale rock show.

It's not quite that, but it does have much of the livery, pomp and colour - albeit without boozed-up shouting and screaming fans - and the 'rock stars' of the tech industry.

The entire RDS site is transformed for three days, and thousands descend on Dublin for one of Europe's biggest technology events.

This year, founder Paddy Cosgrave adopted a rather more demure and business-like style - ditching the branded Web Summit T-shirt for a dark blue Arran jumper.

He introduced some huge names to the stage, including Michael Dell of Dell computers and Tour de France winner Chris Froome.

But aside from the wi-fi - which suffered peaks and troughs akin to a French mountain range - the fact that this will be the last Web Summit in Ireland was one of the talking points outside the stages.

The move to Lisbon, Portugal next year came about for a number of reasons, including a fall-out between organisers and Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Cosgrave also said the event got "too big" for Dublin, and that funding offered by the Irish government was nothing more than 'hush money'.

There are many small, single figure workforce firms at the Web Summit. The 'village green' area hosts dozens of them - including south Belfast-based Analytics Engines - each vying for the attention of investors, and like-minded thinkers.

Benjamin Greene, chief technology officer of Analytics Engines, says the Web Summit has been hugely beneficial for his business. And he said the Portugal move may stop making it viable for them.

"We've been around for about seven years but have just started issuing products," he said.

"Our product is around creating big data platforms for our customers."

The business now has a team of around 20 staff, is about to enter its second round of venture capital funding, and is one of the young, fresh Northern Ireland firms making the trip to Dublin.

Belfast Telegraph

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