'Largest diplomatic capital in the world': Brussels hosts first Tech.EU Summit

'Largest diplomatic capital in the world': Brussels hosts first Tech.EU Summit
Sven Gatz, minister for the promotion of multilingualism in Brussels. Photo by Helen Lyons.

The Brussels Expo played host to the first ever Tech.EU Summit on Tuesday, designed to bring together members of the European tech ecosystem as part of a partnership with the European Innovation Council.

“Digital startups have been the primary drivers of innovation – the digital transformation is critical for Europe's present and the foundation for our future,” Mariya Gabriel, commissioner for innovation and research with the European Commission, said in her opening remarks at the summit.

“Europe is already at the forefront of the new deep tech wave, but we need more – more startups that will lead the way in the future by addressing our most pressing issues in industries like energy, agriculture, transportation and food.”

Belgian talent

A full day of programming began with Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, who presented an award to Zara Rutherford, the 19-year-old pilot who became the youngest woman to fly solo around the world.

“I believe in talent,” De Croo said in his remarks. “In a country like Belgium, we don't have natural resources like gas – instead, we have brains and ambition and people who want to change things and can do anything. We have such a talent pool in Brussels and in Belgium.”

De Croo praised Rutherford for her bravery in both her flight and in breaking down gender barriers, as well as her willingness to put her trust in the technology that made the round-the-world trip possible.

Commissioner Gabriel emphasised that Europe has three competitive advantages that will allow it to become a global leader in the tech industry: scientific leadership, a broad industrial base and strong engineering pool. “Europe is a scientific leader both in terms of scientific publications and patents,” she said. “Science and startups are becoming more intertwined than ever.”

Brussels chosen to host first-ever Tech.EU Summit

Brussels as the location of the first-ever Tech.EU Summit was strategic, according to the federal and regional ministers who welcomed European entrepreneurs and investors in the capital’s city hall the day before its kick-off. “We are an innovative city,” said Sven Gatz, minister for the promotion of multilingualism in Brussels. “We’re also one of the best networking cities in the world because in addition to being the second-most cosmopolitan city after Dubai, we are also the largest diplomatic capital in the world.”

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