For those of you who are still unacquainted with the opportunities eastern Europe holds for start-ups, scale-ups and investors, the Wolves Summit, in all its excellence, offers them the occasion to network, connect and match with each other all the while the 2-day conference runs full speed on business and innovation. Of course, this year begets a completely different setting, rendering the Wolves Summit’s 12th edition as the first to go completely hybrid.
Hosted in the opulent Palace of Culture and Science, a gift bestowed upon the Polish nation under Stalin’s rule, this year’s summit was unlike any other. Although 250 in-person attendees were present, the commodious palace seemed largely vacant – as one would expect amidst a global pandemic. Quite the opposite was the online climate where, because of the hybrid setting, 850 attendees connected from all around the world were able to partake in the 2-day concentrated programme.
The Main Stage at the Palace of Culture and Science
This edition’s main theme: collaborate to innovate. Experts, business leaders and founders stemming from both the start-up and corporate scene, as well as academics and government officials came together to discuss trending topics and areas for opportunity created by the pandemic. Although a majority of the panels took place fully virtually, the opinions conveyed were by no means less dynamic. On the contrary, with discussions ranging from insights on how to make it as an entrepreneur to the democratization of space, the speakers were ever more engaged.
“Sales and Acquisition in CEE Based on
Decades of Experience at Microsoft”.
From left to right: Robin Wauters, Co-Founder, Tech.eu; Justin Alderson, Technical Lead, One Commercial Partner Group, CEE Microsoft.
“The State of Tech in CEE”.
From left to right: Josef Seidl, Co-Founder & Managing Director, INNOSPOT GmbH; John Courtney, Founder & CEO, Boardroom Advisors; William de Gale, Portfolio Manager, BlueBox Wealth Management; Michał Kramarz, Head of Google for Startups, CEE.
A flagship topic was the investor landscape in the CEE region and the involvement of larger corporations such as Google and Microsoft, how they support local start-ups impacted by the pandemic, and how opportunities resulted from it.
Throughout the summit, GLOBALS TV sought to interview key individuals who were on site and their role and contribution to the Wolves summit. Wiktoria Przybylska, Head of Start-ups in Poland, shares her insights from Microsoft’s perspective:
Other topics covered were targeted towards founders, for instance those pursuing expansion outside of the CEE region such as the United Kingdom, as Bartosz Kozinski outlines: «When a company from Poland for example sets up in the UK, it becomes a British entity. And when a company has a global vision, the embassies around the world are tasked to support British companies in introducing a product or service.»
“How to Scale Up your Startup Globally via the UK” Bartosz Kozinski,
Director Foreign Direct Investment DIT, British Embassy.
In addition to the different panels, the Wolves Summit enables 1:1 matchmaking sessions where startups and investors can meet and match. This year, a total of 2088 sessions ensued, both virtually and physically, during which 639 start-ups and scale-ups had the opportunity to meet with a total of 158 investors, as well as 235 corporates and executives.
The Main Hall and One of the Many 1:1 Matchmaking Areas.
Club GLOBALS had a Virtual Booth as Well.
Another highlight was the Great Pitch Contest. 50 tech startups were selected from a wide number of applicants throughout the regions, and after having defended their business concept in front of selected jury members, only 3 winners would walk away, with prizes going from brand awareness to receiving €50K in funding.
In third place came Ligence, a tech-med startup which designed an AI able to scan a human heart. Car Scanner which, as the name suggests, scans cars automatically for parking and damages, came out 2nd place. The winner of the Wolves Summit’s 12th edition Great Pitch Contest was Nutrix, another tech-med startup which uses nanosensors placed on the patient’s tooth to monitor glucose levels.
1st place: Nutrix
2nd place: Car Scanner
3rd place: Ligence
Keeping the best for the end, the 12th edition of the Wolves Summit initially started with the investor’s evening hosted at the Trend House in Warsaw’s renowned Cambridge Innovation Centre. A select number of people including investors, business partners, speakers and organizers were invited to take part in the opening ceremony, which consisted of a reception and a panel discussion. As Master of Ceremony to introduce the evening and its speakers was Mario Paladini, Founder and CEO of Club GLOBALS.
Moderated by Rafal Celej, Partner at Kondracki Celej, the topics covered were the venture capital scene for start-ups in the CEE region, innovation and the impact of COVID-19 on business. On the latter, as Rafal briefly introduced the topic, he stated that “the result of the pandemic is not as dramatic as everyone thought.”
Filip Debowski, Trend House Programme Manager, apprised the audience on Trend House’s role for innovation and the means necessary to secure a sustainable future, considering the external changes affecting businesses at this time.
All the way from Brussels joined Robin Wauters, Founder at Tech.eu, who is primarily covering the European tech industry. He discussed how Europe is falling behind compared to the U.S. and China in both growth and investment in tech start-ups, but that Europe’s strength lies in its talent from across the industries. However, the main issues Europe faces are the pace at which products emanate from the R&D department onto the market, as well as the level of expertise talents have specifically in the digital and entrepreneurial fields.
James Hughes, Minister-Counsellor for Economic Affairs at the British Embassy in Warsaw, joined online and briefly talked about the investor’s benefits in the U.K.
This was followed by the keynote speaker, Diana Alice Florescu, Managing Partner at Grai, who presented her view on venture capital for corporations and startups and the approach for being successful.
As the panel discussion evolved, varying perspectives were considered regarding the impact the pandemic had on business.
Paulina Białek, Director at Expara VC: “A lot of industries are affected by the pandemic and they are struggling. They have to pivot to address the problem of the pandemic.”
Noemi Malska, Executive Board Member at 300Brains: “During the pandemic, FinTechs still kept their budget because they were afraid, and they didn’t use their budget for business development.”
Kinga Stanislawska, Managing Partner and Co-Founder at Experior VC: “There are businesses that just can’t survive the crisis, those can’t change their business models. There are groups of startups which do amazingly well in COVID times (…) and these are local players.”
Robert Lugowski, CEO at Cobin Angels: “Angel investing is part of the VC market. At the end of Q2-Q3, we observed a recovery and of course the Russians were behind this; they invested in portfolio startups. There are no direct investment skills (in Poland), but still, the investment is there.»
GLOBALS TV compiled a number of interviews both at the investor’s evening and during the Wolves Summit. Below you’ll find a playlist we put together.
This Wolves Summit’s 12th edition has been a truly unique experience, especially due to its hybrid setting. Club GLOBALS would like to thank the organizers who have put so much effort into rendering this a successful event for both the offline and online scene, and we would also like to thank those who were able to make it both in-person and virtually.
We are very much looking forward to the Wolves Summit’s 13th edition planned for March 2021.