November 25, 2020

By Catarina Demony

LISBON (Reuters) – Europe’s biggest technology conference, the Web Summit, will return to Lisbon in full force as a massive in-person event in 2021 after the coronavirus pandemic forced it to go fully online this year.

“The venue is booked,” the conference’s founder Paddy Cosgrave told Reuters on Wednesday in an interview. “I think by November (next year) the Web Summit will be happening in-person and I can’t wait.”

The event, which moved from Dublin to the Portuguese capital in 2016, attracts about 70,000 participants every year, drawing speakers from leading global tech companies and startups, as well as politicians.

But due to the outbreak, which has forced the cancellation or postponement of many major events, this year’s Web Summit will be held online next week.

It will be able to host 100,000 attendees online on its own conference platform and hundreds of speakers will join the event, including the head of the European Commission and chief executives of big firms, such as Zoom.

Without revealing names, Cosgrave said next year some of the world’s biggest conferences will take place on the pricey platform created by the Web Summit, with one paying a fee of 6.5 million euros to use it.

In 2021 the Web Summit hopes to welcome 70,000 attendees to Lisbon plus up to 80,000 online, mixing in-person and virtual experiences as a way to attract more people, from more places.

“I have no doubt it will be just great to get everyone back to Lisbon,” Cosgrave said, adding people who live in places such as in Japan or New Zealand would be more likely to attend because of the online option.

On Tuesday evening, Cosgrave announced on Twitter there will be a South American Web Summit in 2022 in either Rio de Janeiro or Porto Alegre in Brazil.

“Brazil is an absolutely fantastic, thriving country,” Cosgrave said. “Holding each year, in the build up to November’s Lisbon Web Summit, events in key regions of the world is a good idea.”

(This story refiles to fix repetition in headline)

(Reporting by Catarina Demony; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and David Goodman)

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