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Big is good, bigger is better, and even bigger is even better.
For revisiting guests at Websummit, there was one trend that clearly manifested itself at this year's conference: Tech is HUGE in Europe, and growing significantly year by year. This was reflected in the line-up, the level of security, the length of the queues at the food trucks, and the interest on the various pitch scenes and VC dialogue areas.
Size, however, was not only a thing from the physical aspect of the conference, but very much the hot topic on several of the scenes, where it was discussed that even though tech is big and fast paced in Europe, we are heavily and increasingly dominated by the tech giants of US and China to such an extent that we are facing the loss of European digital sovereignty. In order to avoid that, we ourselves must build ( – and stop selling!) large and strong tech companies that can challenge the biggies from the East and West – not only financially, but also in relation to setting the ethical bar for the use of technology for private companies and states. Until we have those homegrown tech giants, we should place all our bets on our brilliant Margrethe Vestager, who appeared on Center Stage as the last speaker before Portugal’s President closing speech. It was both reassuring and uplifting to see and hear her addressing the current democratic challenge of technology in her usual relentless, yet smiling and composed style. A packed Centre Stage acknowledged her efforts and vision with a standing ovation.
And so, finally, the Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa was able to surf on the wave of enthusiasm, delivering a happy-demagogue-style pep talk inspiring tech-Europe for another year’s sprinting towards going even BIGGER!