Tuesday 24 April 2018

Web Summit: Now London aims to lure the tech conference

Web Summit co-founder Paddy Cosgrave.
Web Summit co-founder Paddy Cosgrave.
The G20 Summit is among the high profile events held in ExCel. Photo: Bloomberg
The G20 Summit, above, is among the high profile events held in ExCel. Its chief executive, David Pegler (pictured), wants to attract Paddy Cosgrave and his Web Summit to the English capital. Photo: Ian Bartlett
Paddy Cosgrave, founder of the Web Summit. Photo: Frank McGrath
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

The chief executive of London's biggest convention destination - the massive ExCel Centre - has told the Irish Independent that he'd be interested in eventually luring the Web Summit to the capital. The ExCel Centre is where Katie Taylor won her Olympic gold medal in 2012.

David Pegler confirmed that the event would be an attractive client for the venue.

"We'd love to get them here," he said, speaking at the ExCel Centre in London. "This venue is the most successful in the world for hosting technology events. It's one that we'll pursue."

About 30,000 delegates attended the Web Summit event in Dublin in November.

The ExCel Centre is home to London's Convention Centre, and is owned by the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company. It extends over 100,000sqm and hosts over 300 events a year.

Events in 2015 included the annual Hewlett-Packard Enterprise showcase, which had previously been held in Barcelona, as well as the European Society of Cardiology congress, which attracted about 33,000 delegates.

The Dublin Web Summit, which was founded by Paddy Cosgrave, will be held in Portugal's capital, Lisbon, next year and for a number of years after that.

Mr Pegler said once that relationship ends, ExCel will try to entice the Web Summit to London.

"We'd certainly have our hat in the ring for that," he said. "These events bring a whole lot of economic benefit."

It had been held in Dublin the past five years and was reckoned to be worth about €100m a year to the local economy.

The relationship between the Government and Mr Cosgrave deteriorated significantly in the weeks preceding the announcement in September that the Web Summit would be moving to Lisbon.

Mr Cosgrave claimed he was forced to move his tech event to Lisbon because the Government couldn't address concerns he had about holding the event in Dublin.

Mr Cosgrave said he "didn't want a penny" from the Government but instead wanted issues around hotel costs, wi-fi and traffic disruption addressed.

While the Web Summit was a showcase for Ireland, it is run as a for-profit business by Mr Cosgrave.

The Government pointed out that over a three-year period, the IDA and Enterprise Ireland had contributed a total of €725,000 to the Web Summit.

Mr Cosgrave disputed that, saying the money spent by the agencies was merely for exhibition space and events "at or below market rates".

Lisbon is offering just €1.3m a year in subsidies to the Web Summit.

However, it's the ability of the Web Summit to attract thousands of US tech delegates to the event in Lisbon that will be tested, not least because of the relatively few direct air links between the city and the United States.

Irish Independent

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