Women in tech, AI in focus as Web Summit opens in Rio

General view of the main stage during the Web Summit Rio 2024 at the RioCentro Expo Center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, taken on April 16, 2024. The Web Summit Rio takes place from April 15 to 18, and will bring together key figures in the technology and innovation sectors, alongside industry executives. — AFP

RIO DE JANEIRO: The future of artificial intelligence, technology to fight climate change and other glimpses at the cutting edge were in focus April 16 as mega-tech conference Web Summit opened in Rio de Janeiro.

Known as the “Davos for Geeks”, the conference is holding its second edition in the Brazilian beach city, with more than 600 tech gurus, public personalities and other speakers joining entrepreneurs from more than 1,000 startups.

In a male-dominated industry, organisers said 45% of the startups represented this year were founded or are led by women, a record for Web Summit, which started in 2009.

Dozens of women tech entrepreneurs from countries including Argentina, Brazil, Portugal and Uruguay took the stage to applause as organisers opened the three-day event.

“Discussions at this year’s event focus on technology’s role in addressing crucial global issues, such as AI, fintech, climate change and human rights,” said conference director Artur Pereira.

The gathering is “an opportunity for Web Summit to convene technology’s leaders in Latin America’s already dynamic and rapidly growing tech scene” and connect them with global players, he said.

Launched in Dublin 15 years ago, Web Summit moved to Lisbon in 2016. The Latin American edition is held in parallel with the original, which still convenes each November.

Organisers plan to hold the Rio edition at least through 2028. AFP is a media partner of the event this year.

The conference brings together startups with giants like IBM, BYD, Salesforce, Huawei and JP Morgan.

"Our mission is to transform Rio into the capital of innovation of Latin America," Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes said in his opening speech.

"We believe that tech and innovation can act as key drivers of Rio's economy."

Rio officials say the event will draw 40,000 people a day and inject some 33mil reais (RM30.6mil) into the economy. – AFP

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