Belfast Telegraph

Questions raised as Web Summit ups sticks for Portugal

By Adrian Weckler

Portugal's government will pay just €1.3m (£1m) per year to Ireland's Web Summit organisers to move Europe's largest internet technology conference from Dublin to Lisbon.

The modest bursary will prompt questions of why Ireland's most successful technology event is moving out of the country, with an estimated loss to the economy of around €100m (£73m). Web Summit had held shows in Belfast, supported by Invest NI, ahead of its gathering in Dublin in November last year. The spin-off events MoneyConf and EnterConf were also staged in Belfast in June this year.

According to the organisers of Web Summit, the company is moving its event to Portugal next year because of the difference in infrastructure, rather than for a better financial subsidy.

A lack of hotels, transportation and suitable venues in Dublin have been the subject of complaints by company chief executive Paddy Cosgrave.

"We need a new home for future growth at Web Summit," he said. "Lisbon has the infrastructure - and that is why we are making the move there. We think that it is the right move for our attendee experience."

Company founders' disillusionment with Dublin's infrastructure means that the conference is unlikely to return to Ireland in its present form in the near future.

The hugely popular event is set to be located in Lisbon "for the next few years", according to Portugal's deputy prime minister, Paulo Portas.

Responding to the news, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said: "I think the authorities will look at the question of how they need to improve facilities for other events on other occasions."

Belfast Telegraph