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One Hell of a Ride: Czech Pioneers 2015

Virtual reality skydiving, eco-housing on wheels, worldwide next day drone delivery, smart data, artificial intelligence, cryptocurrencies. The Pioneers Festival attracted over 2500 entrepreneurs, tech enthusiasts, investors, disruptive minds and journalists to the heart of Vienna this year. As has become a tradition over the years, we and our partners brought promising Czech startups to this event, unique in the central European setting.

The Festival in a Nutshell

The Festival offered a wide range of activities - keynotes, discussions, lectures, industry-specific expert tables, speed networking enabling one-to-one meetings for startups, corporations and accelerators, startup competitions, pitching and expo. All that in the premises of the Hofburg Imperial Palace. 

"Where would you go, if you could travel over 300 miles in 30 minutes?" Yes, it's hyperloop we're talking about. The future of transportation envisioned by Elon Musk was presented by Dirk Ahlborn, the CEO of Hyperloop Transportation. Pioneering in various fields of science and business was the underlying theme of the content presented on the main Arena stage. Featured topics included fintech and cryptocurrencies, biotech, agtech, technological breakthroughs in health or robotics.

Arena was also the stage for the grand finale of the Pioneers Challenge. The Festival's flagship startup contest attracted over 1600 applications from around the globe, with the most trending industries being smart data, life sciences, robotic, energy and environment and financial services. Out of these, 50 startups had the opportunity to pitch in front of an audience of 400 investors, VCs, corporate execs and professional public during the Investors Day. Two Czech startups (PhoneX Security and Skypicker) succeeded in getting into the top 50. Top 8 startups then pitched on stage during the Festival's finale. The trophy went to Dronamics - a Bulgarian startup that strives to disrupt the cargo aviation industry.

Academy stage was all about entrepreneurial skills. How can startups get their business to the next level? The art of sales hustling, for instance, was vigorously "splashed" on the audience by Steli Efti, this year for the third time already. It also offered a space for startups to pitch in front of a large audience. The third stage called Spotlight offered sponsored panel discussions. The buzz of lively conversations was constantly filling the corridors of Hofburg - networking, facilitated by a mobile app for systematic meeting planning, is a vital part of the event.

Prague-Brno-Vienna and Back!

At TechSquare, we embarked on a journey of bringing the innovative potential of startups and experience of large corporations closer together. The Czech Pioneers Bus enabled us to stir up sensible dialogue between these seemingly divergent worlds. The general partner of this years expedition was Equa bank, exclusively representing the Czech financial sector. Along with Adastra and CzechInvest, Equa bank helped us provide free passes to the Pioneers Festival to 10 projects from the Czech Republic. The bus itself was sponsored by Seznam.cz and procured by FunMio.

The biggest value added for the startups was not the ticket itself. It was the opportunity to spend enough time with high-level executives from the partnering companies and find out more about how large corporations work. Beyond that, they could also test possible areas of cooperation. The proactive approach of the startups and their unique solutions were a pleasant surprise to both us and our partners. And the key areas? Data processing, security and monetization with a touch of HW. See who our startups and partners were in 2015! Will you be on board in 2016?

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