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START Summit injects innovation into Europe’s startup conference scene

START Summit offers an innovative take on entrepreneurship conferences – entirely student-run it gives a fresh perspective on Europe’s startup landscape.

It’s scheduled for March 21-22, 2024, in St. Gallen, Switzerland. 

The history of START Summit dates back to 1997 when it was established as START Global by students from the University of St. Gallen. They initially organised the START Forum. START Summit was later established as one of the Global Projects and had its first event in 2007. In 2015, the first ‘big Summit’ took place on the campus, and in 2016, the event relocated to the Olma Messen St.Gallen, the biggest exhibition hall in the city.  

Fast forward to 2023, and START Summit attracted over 6,000 participants and featured 150+ speakers.

In 2024, another milestone awaits, as the event will be one of the first to take place in the newly constructed St.Galler Kantonalbank Halle, the largest hall at the Olma Messen.

While there are numerous startup conferences worldwide, what truly sets START Summit apart is that it’s entirely run by students. 

From the second year students can take responsibilities across the variety of positions available to manage the entire event. Over 80 students fill positions in marketing, communications, PR, legal, finance, administration, content, brands and so on and work on this event almost full time and voluntarily, for which they receive study credits.

I travelled to St. Gallen to meet the team from START Global at a small event co-organised by them and to learn more about their work and the innovation that comes out of this event. The event was held on campus, at the Square building, where they held a panel discussion and a keynote with founders and a venture capital firm. Afterwards I spoke with Jan Bohe, Managing Director Communications and Chiara Britschgi, Head of Public Relations from START Global and here I share the insights with you. 

Event industry professionals statement and guidance on the situation in Israel

A group of event professionals has united to address the conflict and provide guidance to the events industry on what steps it should take.

The terrorist attacks that took place in Israel and the ongoing events in the region have had a global impact on Jewish communities, and this situation is also directly affecting our friends and colleagues in the event industry, both in Israel and around the world.

The response from event associations and bodies within the industry has been slow and limited and as we write this many have still not released statements. As the situation continues to develop and uncertainty remains, it has been reported by multiple sources that events in Israel have already been cancelled, including events not scheduled until 2024.

The impact is not limited to events in Israel. The situation has sparked demonstrations in cities worldwide, which may have consequences for your event and its attendees.

The events industry is about fostering connections, building a sense of community, promoting inclusion and understanding. Throughout its history, the industry has faced numerous crises, and in the past, event organisations have been slow to respond, often requiring pressure to issue statements. Many event professionals find it hard to comprehend the lack of support within the industry on the unfolding events in Israel. 

The 15-Minute City concept trend in event planning

The 15-Minute City concept is the biggest trend right now in the events industry. It refers to creating urban environments where residents can access their essential needs within a 15-minute walk or bike ride from their homes.

This trend is gaining popularity as more people seek to:

  1. Reduce their carbon footprint
  2. Enhance their overall well-being
  3. Have deeper community engagement

While the concept applies to private lives, it has a big influence on the events industry, too.