What. A. Year.
Hard to believe it’s been exactly 365 days since we all met – in person! – at the very last live event, just weeks before the world went into lockdown. It’s been a year of incredible challenges that didn’t spare anyone, changing the landscape not just for startups and businesses, but also our habits, lifestyles, and way of life. Even as we, hopefully, start to return to a more reasonable life, many things will have changed forever – we have reached the point of no return. Now, it’s high time we learn and move forward.
A new framework for the new normal
Whether we wish to or not, we know right now it’s hardly possible to host thousands of people on location – at least not yet. So, instead, the TechChill pass will bring you two weeks of agenda full of dedicated content tailored to you – online and accessible from anywhere in the world. As always, we will host industry speakers sharing their stories, this time on a virtual stage. You will also get access to side events that include matchmaking between startups and investors, job fair, accelerator demo days, 50 founders battle pitches, masterclasses, roundtable discussions, hackathons and many other exclusive events.
Two weeks across the Baltics
Being the largest startup event in the region, TechChill has always been the place to meet the up-and-coming rocketship builders – whether it’s now-unicorns like Vinted or promising early stage stars like Woola. For the first time ever, TechChill will be partnering with our neighbours in Lithuania – the two weeks of content will begin with a launch event in Vilnius and end with a grand finale in Riga. (We might even boldly suggest you continue the virtual tour north and go visit the Estonians a week after.)
Technology shift and trends in 2021
TechChill 2021 agenda will aim to take a closer look at the opportunities and issues that will shape technology this year and beyond. The core agenda topics for 2021 will be sustainability, knowledge for growth, digital transformation, diversity – and, as always, the role of the Baltics in the future of tech.
Green New World
Sustainability is one of the key opportunities for global innovation. The European Green Deal has set out an ambitious goal to make EU climate neutral by 2050, with extensive funding behind the sustainability push. And with reason – sustainability and eco-innovation industries have experienced growth that withstands even financial disruptions. On the flip side, more serious innovation in areas such as production, logistics, and building often require more significant investment that is available to startups and the move to sustainability for corporations is slow. Is sustainability the key ingredient for Europe to be a competitive force on a global scale? Can innovation and startups help move it forward? What is the best partnership model for governments, corporations and innovators to make significant change happen?
Knowledge for Growth
Increasing normality of long-term remote work, in addition to economic shifts, raises tough questions for many about the skills and accessibility of talent, and the necessary knowledge for growth. The skills and knowledge of the labour force, and the quality of education at all levels, starting with kindergarten STEM skills to accessibility of market-relevant knowledge for high-growth innovators will be the key that drives forward the economic transition. How big of a role should companies have in large-scale education initiatives? Has the regional fight for talent changed due to remote work? Will the shift to e-learning and online education be permanent even after the pandemic ends?
Many industries have been hit hard or even wiped out by the pandemic, while others – food delivery, remote work and e-commerce – have experienced unexpected growth. The new normal has pushed digital transformation to accelerate by decades in just a few months, while encouraging us to look beyond the pandemic to what’s in our future. The need to innovate has never been more urgent, because today it can mean the difference between death and survival. How can corporations accelerate innovation to survive – and thrive – in the new normal? What role do startups play in the transformation? How should governments change their approach?
The Human Side of Tech
At the very core of TechChill, we have always believed our mission to bring to the forefront not just the good stories, but also the bad and the ugly challenges on the big stage. Building a rocketship is tough work, and there are incredible challenges founders and startups face. This year will not be an exception, and we’ll ask the tough questions. How has the lockdown affected our work-life balance? What effect has it had on our mental health and wellbeing, both for startups struggling to fundraise ionj the face of the pandemic, and for the ones seeing unexpected growth? How can the Baltics deal with the need for talent, if their startups still lack diversity? Why is 90% of venture capital funding in Europe going to startups with male-only founders?
Celebrating a decade of growth
For more than 9 years, the core priority of TechChill has been to support the growth of Latvian and Baltic startups. We do so by filling the gaps in knowledge, skills and network – TechChill is far more than an event, it’s an active and warm community of alumnus, friends and partners across Europe. This approach has proven successful by bringing not just visibility but also direct investment.
We are proud to say we have partners who believe in our mission just as much as we do, and their trust is crucial in making this event happen year to year, even in the most challenging times. Even more importantly, we are happy to have the backing of friends, startups, participants and ambassadors. TechChill 2021 will celebrate its 10th anniversary of building bridges across borders. Whatever else might change, our mission stays the same. We look forward to celebrating this milestone with you!
Written by Līva Pērkone, TechChill board member