Iranian tech start-ups and leading global tech executives gather in Barcelona for a historic summit – iBridge Barcelona 2016


Barcelona November 14, 2016: Leading executives from major technology organisations including Google, Snapchat, 500 Startups, Yandex, Intel and Plug and Play will be convening in December for iBRIDGE Barcelona, the third edition of a groundbreaking high-tech entrepreneurship conference focused on entrepreneurs of Iranian descent.

“The Iranian diaspora has played a significant role in leading the digital revolution in the United States and Europe,” notes Dave McClure, co-founder of leading VC fund and accelerator, 500 Startups. “iBRIDGES offers an amazing platform to help these leaders share what they know with young entrepreneurs developing the innovation economy around the world.”

iBRIDGE Barcelona will unite tech leaders of Iranian descent, who have found immense success as innovators at some of the world’s most renowned tech companies. The event will also celebrate the momentum of the promising start-up ecosystem in Iran, which burst onto the global scene last year. In just the last year, Iran’s start-up ecosystem has attracted over $100 million in foreign investment.

More than 50 high tech entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, angel investors, social entrepreneurs, and academics will speak at this conference. The speakers include Anousheh Ansari, CEO of Prodea Systems and the first woman to travel to space as a private individual, Sally Osberg, CEO of the Skoll Foundation, and Farhad Mohit Founder & CEO at Flipagram.

Over 1000 participants are expected to attend iBRIDGE Barcelona on December 8-10 where they will meet with counterparts to exchange knowledge and experiences and hone the skills necessary to turn promising ideas into winning businesses. The event will also be live-streamed to viewers around the globe.

Global innovation catalyst, Kamran Elahian, praises “the way in which iBRIDGES demonstrates how fostering innovation across borders is first-and-foremost about connecting people and inspiring them to think outside of the box and to follow their dreams”.

Dr. Firouz Naderi, the former Director of Solar System Exploration at NASA’s JPL, who will speak at the conference said “Perhaps the most important thing is to share lessons learned with young entrepreneurs and to impress upon them, by the way of example, that through commitment no dream is too big to realize”.

Prof. Yahya Tabesh, a pioneer of maths and computer science in Iran, believes that the importance of education in Iranian culture is the foundation for future innovation. “Iran’s maths and computer science departments are globally competitive and students are seeking the opportunity to put their training into practice. Projects like iBRIDGES help encourage students to think big.”

The apolitical conference is privately funded and organised, and depends on community support to deliver on its mission of empowering a global community of high-tech entrepreneurship, focusing on individuals of Iranian descent. Over 200 high-tech enthusiasts from the Iranian diaspora across three continents have joined hands and volunteered to help organise the event.

The event program, which consists of keynote speeches, panel discussions, and workshops over three days, will feature expert presentations on wide-ranging topics including blockchain, machine learning, and rapid prototyping. New start-ups will also be able to participate in an invitation-only SHOWCASE event.

“The showcase is an opportunity to give many founders with Iranian descent their first exposure on a global stage. We help build the confidence of these start-ups and help them develop the skills they need to take their concept to the next stage,” says Dr. Amir Zarkesh, the chair of iBRIDGE Barcelona.

For non-Iranian VCs, the focus on entrepreneurs of Iranian-descent is an added bonus. “The Iranian community, globally, has demonstrated excellence in computer science and engineering, as well as a keen talent for entrepreneurship” says Sharif El-Badawi, a veteran of Google, and now a Partner at prominent VC firm 500 Startups who works to bridge start-ups in Silicon Valley with the wider Middle East.

“Entrepreneurs like Pierre Omidyar at Ebay, Omid Kordestani at Twitter, and Dara Khosrowshahi at Expedia demonstrate the potential for the highest-levels of leadership in the next generation. That is what makes attending an event like iBRIDGE so exciting. You are likely to meet a future changemaker, and you might not even realize it at the time,” adds El-Badawi.

iBRIDGE Barcelona will be held in the Barcelona Fira, the city’s leading event and conference venue, and the home of the annual Mobile World Congress event which has made the city a “world capital” for mobile and digital technologies.

iBRIDGE Barcelona is a sequel to iBRIDGE Berlin which was a conference held at CityCube, Berlin in June 2015. That event welcomed over 1000 attendees. iBRIDGES Barcelona is an educational event that is compliant with current US and EU laws. iBRIDGE Barcelona will be co-hosted by The BIT-AMENA (Berkeley iTechpreneurship in Asia, Middle East, and North Africa) Center at Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley