Billed as the world’s biggest tech conference, this year’s gathering managed to pull in 71,033 attendees—just over one thousand of which were investors—from 160 countries. Remarkably, the enthusiasm and appetite on display during the week belied an industry that has been overshadowed by war in Europe and economic instability around the globe.
Innovation under fire
The sight of a robotic arm waving a Ukrainian flag in the center of one the Summit’s many pavilions—a kiosk by United24, a fundraising platform set up by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy—spoke volumes to the way an embattled Ukraine is looking to the tech industry as an ally.
A year ago, Ukraine’s tech industry was a very significant but also understated part of Europe’s startup ecosystem. In 2022, the latter is no longer the case. This year, the country quite literally took center stage.
Not only did Olena Zelenska, Ukraine’s first lady, appear on the main stage opening night, but there were no fewer than eight sessions on the topic of Ukraine during the week. These included talks not just on how different technologies such as AI and blockchain are being used for humanitarian efforts, but also as tools of war.
I want to show you how technology lets you protect the entire democratic world,” Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister and minister of digital transformation, told the arena audience on the second day, “and how each of you can test your product in Ukraine, capitalize on your company and join our victory.
Read more about Ukrainian tech at Web Summit by PitchBook Data
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- Come Back Alive is one of the largest charitable foundations that supports Ukrainian soldiers, founded by the IT specialist Vitaliy Deynega. The organization collected more than 210 million UAH (more than $7M) in 2014. According to Na chasi, the Patreon page Come Back Alive is in the top ten projects by the number of financial donations.
- MacPaw Development Fund
- Army SOS, which develops drones;
- Everybody Can, an organization that supports internally displaced people;
- Help on the Ministry of Defense website.