Katherine Maher, CEO, Web Summit during the opening night of Web Summit 2023 at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, Portugal. Photo by Lukas Schulze/Web Summit via Sportsfile


Lisbon's Altice Arena buzzed with innovation and diversity as Web Summit, the world’s largest technology conference, welcomed a record 70,236 attendees from 153 countries, reflecting a vibrant tech ecosystem. The 2023 edition was not just about numbers; it marked a significant stride in gender diversity, with women representing 43% of attendees and 38% of speakers, and almost one-third of the 2,608 startups being woman-founded.

Innovative Finnish Startups Present

Web Summit showcased a plethora of global tech innovations from various different parts of the world. As the technology industry in Finland has been growing, it was no surprise to found innovative Finnish starups presenting themselves at the event.

Here are the Finnish startups at Web Summit that stood out with their unique solutions:

  • Laavu: Focusing on psychological sustainability, Laavu offers a novel approach to business leadership and organizational health. Their services are designed to build mental resilience and resourcefulness, addressing the psychological challenges of modern work environments.
  • aatos.: Revolutionizing the legal sector, aatos. offers an online platform for handling legal matters such as power of attorney, wills, and prenuptial agreements. Their user-friendly service simplifies complex legal processes, making them accessible and manageable for everyone.
  • Geyser Batteries: This startup brings to the table sustainable energy storage solutions vital for heavy-duty applications. Their proprietary water-based electrolyte technology is a game-changer in the energy sector, offering environmentally friendly and efficient energy storage options.
  • Videobot: Videobot transforms how businesses engage with their audiences through personalized video funnels. These automated flows enhance customer interaction, lead capture, and conversion rates, making Videobot a crucial tool for businesses looking to improve their digital marketing strategies.
  • 180ops: With its AI and machine learning-powered enterprise SaaS tools, 180ops is redefining revenue operations. Their platform provides actionable insights, facilitating collaboration and clarity in achieving business targets.
  • CloEE: Specializing in remote monitoring of production equipment, CloEE’s cloud-based platform offers comprehensive analytics for operational efficiency. Their solution focuses on improvements in overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), energy savings, and CO2 reduction.
  • Coinverse: Coinverse brings a digital revolution to coin collecting. Their app offers a unique platform for collectors to manage, expand, and connect with a global community of coin enthusiasts, all from the convenience of their smartphone.
  • Hashlist: In the mobility sector, Hashlist serves as a pivotal hiring platform connecting tech specialists with companies. Their network addresses the evolving needs of the mobility industry, fostering connections that drive innovation.
  • Hekti.ai: Transforming customer interactions, Hekti.ai provides a conversation intelligence platform that delivers insights across business teams. This enhances a more connected, customer-centric workplace, driving growth through improved customer engagement.
  • Romify: As an Event Lead Management platform, Romify leverages AI to transform event participation results. It digitalizes and manages leads, integrating them seamlessly into marketing and CRM systems for efficient follow-up.
  • SemiQon: At the cutting edge of quantum computing, SemiQon is developing silicon-based quantum processors. Their technology addresses scalability, cost, and environmental sustainability, paving the way for the next generation of quantum computers.
  • Social First: Focusing on the social aspects of gaming, Social First creates games that foster deep social connections and cross-platform gameplay. Their approach to gaming emphasizes player-driven economies and social experiences that span decades.
  • VitalSigns: Redefining medical examinations, VitalSigns has developed a multifunctional device that replaces traditional tools like the stethoscope. This device integrates various health measurements, streamlining the physical examination process in medical practice.

Influence of AI on Starups and the Tech Industry

In the past few years, artificial intelligence has disrupted the techology industry and became the core of many new solutions. In addition, AI has become to affects every starup regardless of their industry, fundamentally changing the way they operate, innovate, and compete.

Naturally, AI was one of the core topics of discussion at Web Summit. Speakers debated about the future impact of AI and considered solutions for the different challenges it is generating for the world. For example, Andrew McAfee, a principal research scientist at MIT, brought into focus the pressing issue of AI regulation. His talk, “How do we regulate AI?”, underscored the urgency of establishing rules in a field that is outpacing legislative frameworks. The risks associated with AI, such as misinformation, bias, and job displacement, necessitate a nuanced approach to regulation that balances innovation with ethical considerations

Despite arising problems, AI is revolutionising business growth. Sarah Al-Hussaini, Rohan Patel, and Ryan Heath explored how AI's ability to provide data-driven insights, tailor customer experiences, and streamline processes is not just a competitive advantage but a necessity in the modern business landscape.

In addition to business advantages, the accessibility of AI is also creating new opportunities in education for example. “ChatGPTeacher: How tech is shaping the future of learning” delved into the educational sector’s transformation through AI. This session highlighted the evolution from traditional teaching methods to AI-driven personalisation and virtual classrooms, showcasing AI's potential to democratize and individualize learning experiences. The intersection of AI and education is creating novel pathways for knowledge acquisition and skill development.

As we go on with the development of AI, it is important to consider the direction the technology is taking. MIT’s Andrew McAfee, in “How to build better AI”, addressed the ethical implications of AI advancement. His vision of an ethical AI-powered future resonates with a growing sentiment in the tech community about the need to balance technological progress with moral responsibility. This discussion is particularly relevant for startups at the forefront of AI development, guiding them towards responsible innovation.

Tech and AI in the Nordic Startup Scene

Helsinki Times interviewed Lily Mägi, a PR consultant from Meta Alpha, a PR agency focusing on startups. Mägi shared insights on the evolving startup scene in the Nordics, particularly in the context of AI and technology. According to Mägi, the growing digitalization, particularly in sectors like defense in Estonia, indicates a broader Nordic trend of embracing tech solutions for traditional industries.

Mägi also highlighted the essential role of human connection in PR, even as AI becomes a more prominent tool. This balance of technology and human touch is evident in the Nordic startup approach, where technological advancement goes hand in hand with practical, human-centered applications.

Web Summit’s Global Impact

Web Summit showcased global tech innovation, with Brazil's Inspira winning the PITCH competition, highlighting the event's international reach and diversity. The summit's expansion to approximately 215,000 square meters of floor space facilitated a range of activities, from investor-startup meetings to masterclasses, reflecting its commitment to fostering global tech connections.

Web Summit's growth from a 150-person conference in 2009 to a global tech phenomenon underscores its mission to connect ideas and people that shape the future. With attendees ranging from CEOs to policymakers, and partnerships with major media organizations, the summit continues to be a pivotal platform for the global tech community.

Tara Kouros - HT