Jake Zammit
Across Limits 

The 2024 EU Startups Summit, which is set to take place on May 9th and 10th in Valletta, Malta, is shaping up to be a major event for the European startup ecosystem. The event is expected to draw in over 2,000 attendees which will be a mix of startup founders, tech enthusiasts, investors, VCs, media, representatives from the European Commission and the European Innovation Council, and more. The occasion will provide for an unparalleled opportunity to carry out a significant degree of networking and learning from peers. There is no doubt that the event will also host several representatives of fintech companies as well.

EU Startups Summit and its background

The Startups summit is hosted by EU-Startups, one of the main online publications all about startups in Europe, founded in 2010. The magazine reports news in the start-up world such as funding and acquisitions, carries out interviews with investors, and CEOs, and provides a service by which to connect investors and other interested parties with relevant startups in the EU due to their extensive contacts all around Europe. 

Since 2014, EU-startups has organised annual EU summits, the first of which was held in Munich. Since then the summits have been held in Berlin, online (in 2021), Barcelona and now it is coming to Valletta. Throughout these successive iterations the summit has consistently grown larger and larger, going from around 100 attendees in 2014 to over 2000 ten years later, making it an excellent opportunity to network and facilitate innovation by bringing together startups and individuals from diverse fields such as transport, real estate, blue economy, fintech and more. All told there will be around 1,200 different companies represented at this summit, 60 of which will have dedicated exhibition booths, with networking occurring both face-to-face and via a dedicated app. 

Fintech and its growth in Malta

Fintech (financial technology) encompasses a broad range of tech and innovations which are focused on disrupting traditional financial and banking sectors. This range spans everything from payment technologies, which includes mobile payments and cryptocurrencies, to financial services software, which can include asset management. The tools and products developed within the scope of fintech are not necessarily limited to any one target group, with innovations being of use to regular consumers, large companies, SMEs, and even public entities. 

With the event taking place in Malta, it is good to have a brief understanding of how the sector operates in the country. The growth of this sector is very apparent in Malta due to its proactive regulatory framework which initially attracted several international financial services firms, and, today, attracts firms active in the fintech scene. The country’s authorities generally aim to strike a balance between creating a supportive and flexible regulatory environment while ensuring robust consumer protection and financial stability. This makes the country all the more attractive for fintech firms due to the country’s membership in the European Union and its monetary union via the Euro. Furthermore, the country’s close relationship with a global financial centre, the United Kingdom, and also through having English as one of its official languages which is widely spoken by the public makes it all the more attractive for international firms to set up shop. 

In recent years, the country has also taken steps to enable firms specialising in blockchain and cryptocurrencies to get active within the local fintech sector. The EU’s steps to further regulate the sector with the introduction of MiCA (Markets in Crypto-Assets), a regulatory framework which aims to protect investors and promote widespread transformation in the crypto asset sector, gives Malta a first-mover advantage in the field. 

Fintech and the EU Startups Summit

Within the EU at large, fintech continues to be one of the most vibrant sectors, driven by rapid technological advancements and significant regulatory changes. The summit provides a platform which allows startups to showcase their innovations and gain insights from industry leaders about the evolving landscape of financial technology.

One of the major attractions of the EU Startups Summit is its annual Pitch Competition, which showcases Europe’s top seed and pre-seed startups. In 2024 there were almost 1,500 applicants, from which there remain 15 finalists that will compete for the cash prize during the summit. The prize package, which is worth €390,000 is inclusive of funding opportunities, press exposure, as well access to highly sought after services. 

This year the panel will be made of Pekka Mäki from 3TS Capital, Melissa Donohoe from Notion Capital, Massimiliano Magrini from United Ventures and Angelo Burgarello from Look AI Ventures. 

Many and varied subjects are slated for discussion at the summit. Topics surrounding scaling and internationalisation seem to be a notable feature of the event in light of the panel discussions set to take place. Furthermore, firms and representatives from companies with experience in embedded finance are increasingly becoming more visible. The summit also features an upcoming panel discussion that will focus on the current trend, in which AI is disrupting sectors all-round, and what opportunities it is bringing about, as well as what challenges are arising. Another interesting discussion will revolve around combating inequality that women and political minorities face in tech, startups, and venture capital. 

Also of note is a talk that will be given by Eoghan O’Neill, a representative of the European Commission about the Digital Markets Act (DMA) and how it will affect startups in Europe.  The DMA is expected to become fully implemented in the months following 6th March 2024, which is when big gatekeeper companies such as Alphabet and Meta were required to comply with the DMA. As part of the ever-evolving regulatory landscape, an understanding of the changes this will bring is key for start-ups, particularly ones focused on fintech, to be able to take advantage of new opportunities this will bring. 

Finally, the summit is a great opportunity to secure investment due to the many VCs and angel investors who will be present, giving the summit an excellent startup-investor ratio. In aid of this, one of the on-stage talks on the agenda will feature 15 of Europe’s leading investors who will present their VC firms. Moreover, a panel discussion will be held regarding the VC investment environment in Europe and how to best navigate it. 

FINE at the EU Startups Summit

Our team will be representing the FINE project at the EU Startups Summit in May to meet with investors and fintech leaders from all across Europe. It would be a great opportunity to connect and we hope to see you there! 

You’re still in time to register for the event here.