Pioneers’18, our flagship event in Vienna, and GovTech.Pioneers, Europe’s first full-day GovTech event, go ahead in Vienna this week. And these two events coincide with a major milestone for Pioneers, which has been acquired by Linz-based startup300, a business angel group consisting of 142 angels and investors. Pioneers will continue with its brand name and daily operations unchanged following ownership change.
“As part of the startup300 family Pioneers can play an increasing role in the Austrian ecosystem, and thanks to its global status it can at the same time lend greater support to connecting the local scene internationally,” says Oliver Csendes, Chief Executive Officer of Pioneers.
We’ll start Pioneers’18 with a bang when Aaron VanDevender kicks off proceedings on the new-look Arena Stage with his opening keynote about the intersection of humanity and technology. He’s Chief Scientist and a Principal at Founders Fund, which believes in investing in entrepreneurs pursuing the most ambitious technical challenges. His daily work includes monitoring the scientific impact of the portfolio companies and assessing technologies, making him an ideal candidate to give an opening overview of how to navigate the fuzzy boundaries in our future technical landscape.
Two of the world’s biggest tech giants, Google and Amazon, will also be represented on the speaker roll. Amazon’s Chief Technology Officer Werner Vogels will deliver a keynote, with the man responsible for driving the company’s customer-centric technology vision sharing his passion for helping young businesses reach global scale. We’re also pleased to welcome Google Arts & Culture Program Manager Suhair Khan, who’ll walk the audience through some of the technologies she and her team are bringing to cultural institutions as they help make art accessible to a wider audience.
Another two speaker who will embody the Blurred Frontiers theme in real style are futurist Jonathan Knowles and marine scientist Gaelin Rosenwaks, who will join an ‘Exploration of New Spaces’ panel discussion that will draw on their expertise in deep-sea and space exploration.
Turning to some specific technology with clear impact, attendees will get to see how water is made from air with with a live stage demonstration from ThinAir, and how water can be transformed into light with Filipino startup SALt.
Another hot topic is Blockchain and a major speaker at Pioneers’18 will be Lighting Labs Co-Founder and CEO Elizabeth Stark, whose company aims to make cryptocurrency transfers faster and easier.
We also welcome video game streaming king Emmett Shear, who sold Twitch.tv to Amazon for almost a billion dollars, David Bishop, former President of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and MGM Home Entertainment, and Jeff Burton, a co-founder at Electronic Arts and HolodeckVR. In addition to his YC Office Hours talk on the Academy Stage, Shear will also take part in a Pioneers Fireside chat with Atomico Venture Partner Alexis Bonte.
And with mobility at the forefront of our mission as always, visitors can also meet and learn from Patrick Nathen, Co-Founder and Head of Calculation & Design at Lilium, the German startup behind the world’s first electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) jet. Also on stage will be Ryan Holmes, CEO of SpaceVR, a company creating ‘virtual space tourism’ through a combination of virtual reality and satellite technology.
Life sciences will also get their fair share of attention at Pioneers’18. Olivier Oullier, President at Emotiv, will showcase ‘A Wearable For Your Brain’ in a keynote on the second afternoon, while our closing keynote on the first day will be delivered by biotechnologist Josef Penninger. The internationally renowned geneticist will send attendees home with both inspiration and food for thought ashe discusses how humans can be made stronger from the inside out in his The Age of Impact: Why Curiosity Leads The Way talk. And Insilico Medicine CEO Dr Alex Zhavoronkov will showcase how Artificial Intelligence can contribute to humans living not only longer, but more healthily so.
The final afternoon will climax with the Pioneers Challenge Top 8 pitches, in which the best of 500 startups selected under our Pioneers500 program will try to convince the jury to crown them Pioneer of the Year. As in previous years they will win a networking trip to Silicon Valley, but this year they’ll also get a trip to the Techsauce Global Summit in Bangkok next month, where they will have a guaranteed pitching slot. They’ll be looking to emulate Austrian startup Stromkind, which walked away with the spoils last a year ago.
Other novelties for 2018 include a dedicated program aimed at Series A startups, a broadcasting partnership with Red Bull TV Live, an increased presence from our partner PwC in its PwC Lounge, the use of NFC wristbands for attendees and an intriguing Pitch the Media session in which startups try (and learn) to pitch a panel of journalists to cover their stories.
Also, for the first time, we’re an industry focused event in the same week. GovTech.Pioneers, Europe’s first full-day Govtech event, takes place the day before Pioneers’18 on May 23rd, at the nearby Palais Wertheim in central Vienna.
As for our renowned networking opportunities, our Match & Meet service will again provide personalized recommendations that will automate the process of getting like-minded startups, corporate executives and investors talking. It will work hand-in-hand with our Piobot chatbot for a smooth schedule and meeting management experience.
Finally, visitors to Pioneers’18 should also look out for a special announcement from Raiffeisen Bank International, which will reveal how it is expanding its startup activities beyond its already-successful Elevator Lab accelerator.