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Vienna’s Pioneers Festival Leading the City’s Entrepreneurial Renaissance

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Started in 2011, the annual Pioneers Festival startup conference has become an integral part of Vienna’s effort to position itself as a centre for innovation, startups and entrepreneurs. The conference is held in the Hofburg Palace – the former imperial palace in the centre of Vienna – which definitely makes it the most beautiful setting for a startup conference around the world.


The conference focuses on future tech and entrepreneurship, and is aimed at anyone who cares about technology and wants to see it make a difference somewhere. Conference goers will have the opportunity to connect with many influential characters from every corner of the tech world. The guestlist is carefully curated and limited to a community of 2,500 like-minded pioneers. Ultimately it is a hub for the best minds in tech, science, design, AI, smart homes and transportation to connect and inspire and empower one another.

A major aspect of the conference is the Pioneers500 – an annual selection of the 500 most promising early-stage tech startups selected by key players in the global tech community. These startups are split into 7 ecosystems (business and productivity, financial services, lifestyle and entertainment, materials and manufacturing, mobility and transportation, energy and utilities, life sciences, and agriculture) and a jury will nominate the most outstanding 10 teams per ecosystem. The best one from each ecosystem will pitch to become the pioneer of the year.

This year’s winner was Pleo, a Danish fintech startup which created smart company payment cards for employees. Pleo’s much coveted prize was €500,000 from Speedinvest, a trip to  California to visit the Red Bull High Performance Center Experience and a private consulting workshop with Austrian state secretary Harald Mahrer.

It’s no coincidence this conference has been coined the SXSW of Europe. It’s become one of Europe’s most important tech events and is one which guarantees the formation of meaningful business relationships between tech innovators. Attendees will meet founders, executives, investors and international media – people that can make things happen. The combination of music, discovery, talks, networking, food and hacks ensure it’s a fun few days so make sure you get involved in 2017.


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