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Ireland to remain 'spiritual home' of Web Summit - Cosgrave

Dublin will remain the spiritual home of the Web Summit despite plans to take it worldwide.

Founder Paddy Cosgrave said he is also focused on making the tech conference ‘bigger and better’ in 2015 despite seeing record growth in its four year history.

With volunteers and workers still putting the finishes touches to the main hall, a nervous Cosgrave conceded it will be ‘just about ready’ for the big launch.

“We’re very focused on making this event in Dublin even bigger and better in 2015,” he told independent.ie before taking to the stage.

“When this event started just three of us involved 20120, not 150 employed all year around and we’ve started similar events in the world.

“We’ve got an event in the US, next year will be our second year and we hope to have 10,000 attendees. We’re also starting something in Asia, in Hong Kong,

“But Dublin is the spiritual home of everything that we’ve built, and it’s a core part of how we roll out events elsewhere in the world.”

Thousands of the world's most powerful venture capitalists and tech executives are in the capital for the three-day event.

Some 20,000 people are expected to attend and  will see celebrity investors such as Peter Thiel, Bono and Eva Longoria mix with homegrown tech superstars such as John Collison, co-founder of multi-billion dollar payments firm Stripe.

“It was very different from four years ago when 400 people showed up and the food we provided deep fat fried sausages and jugs of water because it’s all we could afford at the time,” he added.

“To come all this way in such a short space of time is not just a credit for the people who work with me, but from Dublin City Council who’ve been absolutely incredible.”

Cosgrave says the event got bigger and more diverse, ad technology touched every industry – with Irish start-ups now leading the way in many fields.

“Who knows what type of firms we are going to see coming out of Ireland over the next decade,” he added.

“We’ve had an incredible decade of companies moving to Ireland, maybe we’ll have an incredible decade of Irish companies going put in to the world in the technology space and that means everything from agri-tech to Drop, which is putting technology in the kitchen.”

Opening the event in Dublin’s RDS, Cosgrave revealed firefighters had to evacuate his Dublin home last night as he hosted some of the biggest names in tech – including Dropbox founder Drew Houston.

Dublin Fire Brigade rushed to his home after a chimney fire broke out and the house filled with smoke, urging the packed hall to applaud the fire crew.

“Without them many of our speakers wouldn’t be here today,” he joked.

He told hundreds of international visitors to embrace “everything Dublin has to offer” even after 5pm.

He said the event centres on three Ps – people, pints and physics – and claimed many major deals stuck over pints in the early hours of the mornings, including Sherpa Venture’s $26m investment in taxi app Uber in Bruxelles.

 “Keep going as long as you can, sometimes the most valuable relationships are built after midnight in the bars of Dublin,” he added.