As I was discussing in my Editorial, we are faced with a new normal. And I believe that’s something we should feel positive about. It’s inevitable, so let us embrace the challenge. And that’s exactly what we have set out to do. It goes without saying that it is wonderful to be able to enjoy actual human encounters again – events where people meet old friends and make new ones; events dedicated to certain topics which will appeal to experts in particular fields; events where people can respond to a speaker with a live question and then continue the conversation later in person over a coffee – or perhaps a beer? Just like old times.

But of course, in the old times, that was all that an event could do and be: something shared by those present. It could excite and stimulate conversations that might lead to very interesting and unexpected destinations. Those participating could take back ideas to their own companies and share new thoughts with their interest groups. But what if those who weren’t ‘in the room’ were ‘in the room’? Or if ‘the room’ could travel around and go to different business and technology hubs? What if ‘the room’ could go on tour – like a rock band?

Oh, I hear you sigh – a big Zoom meeting. Surely, we’ve had enough of those. But I can’t be the only one who has noticed their diary nowadays has more virtual meetings than actual meetings. Because they work; they’re timesavers; they even help reduce our carbon footprint. If you can stay in your office – or your sitting room, come to that – to go through a pretty routine allocation of tasks, targets and timetables, why would you insist on getting the car out of the garage and driving it into a busy town for a meeting with a dozen or so colleagues, each of whom will have had to get themselves there by similar means?

So, yes, Zoom or Teams remain part of the new normal. But that is not what we’re aiming at with our new and very special hybrid events. We have the technology – we are collaborating to develop the technology – to make a very different experience for our participants. We are raising the standards of the virtual world to a new level. Those who join us from outside the room will feel very much of it – and in it. We are aiming for the best of both worlds. And we are looking to add some new features while we’re talking about it.

Hands up who still has a business card? I’m sure we all do. But how many do we actually hand out? In my case, hardly any at all. I tend to have a box of the things on my desk and find myself crumpling them up like a cardboard version of worry beads. And when I’ve screwed the last one into a little ball and flicked it into the bin, I won’t be ordering anymore. But that doesn’t mean I’m not keen to extend the number of people across multiple fields who can access me, and, more importantly, my ideas and the projects that I am pursuing. It’s all digital nowadays: most people use social media and have their own website – or websites. Even if I still gave out business cards, they would inevitably get ignored as people simply tapped my details into Google.

Networking remains so important, and at the EU Tech Chamber, we’re even more committed to making it easier and better than before. Let it be half actual, physical encounters and at the same time half virtual encounter. This means that in addition to the 200 or so people in the room, there can be maybe twice that number who are experiencing the event in their own offices – or homes – in a different town, country, or continent. And they are not just the audience. They can participate too.


And here’s how. We have invested heavily in state-of-the-art equipment – HD cameras, microphones, and mixers of the quality you would expect to find on a film set. And like a film, we have editorial control over the event as it proceeds. We have a ‘director’ who can ask for a close-up on the speaker – whether they are in the actual studio or among the virtual audience, any of whom can be brought into the debate and onto the screen at any time. In other words, it’s a live event for all: same time virtual – same time physical. On average, we expect 250 virtual participants for every 100 physically present. So as our ambition is to reach and involve as many people as possible, it makes total sense to make every occasion a hybrid event. Given the investment in equipment and all the other costs associated with putting on an event, the extra expense of making it hybrid is minimal.

Another huge advantage is that we can invite very busy people like politicians and CEOs, who would certainly not have the time to attend in person, to make an appearance and deliver an authoritative contribution to the topic under consideration. And they will appear, not as a gesticulating blur, but in high definition, speaking clearly, with subtitles explaining who they are. As in all things, we are trying to break down barriers between people, allowing discourse to explore and develop the themes which are so important to us all. That is why we are so committed to the new normal in the shape of sophisticated hybrid events. Zoom and Teams were a response to the pandemic, lockdown, isolation and working from home. But the next phase of global communication is designed for a post-pandemic world and must step up to the challenge of revolutionising the boundaries of the possible.

And here’s another thing we’re sure will appeal to all participants: we will record all our events and make those recordings available to everyone taking part. Or, indeed, to those who missed the event completely. Everybody needs to take a holiday, and if you don’t want to join an event from the beach or the ski chalet, you can easily find it on your laptop when you get home. The principle of extending our inclusivity as far as we can is now embedded. EUTECH hosts over 200 webinars a year. More and more of these will now be hybrid events, so more and more people can participate in them and benefit from them. EUTECH is developing another project which will also be rolled out in a hybrid form. We have set up an institute for online training, the European Sustainability Institute (ESI). Sustainability is more than just a buzzword: it is the heart, the core, of our commitment to halt the carbon boulder I referenced in my Editorial. Again, the more people have access to this training, the better, and it’s so important that I will devote a whole article to it in a later edition of the Visions for Europe.

But let me wind up with what the “New Normal” looks like on the road. It’s awesome! No more plugging in laptops and hoping those at the back will be able to read your bullet points. No more irritable tapping of microphones and frantic handwaving so someone stops shining bright lights into your eyes. We are working on a completely different

level. Our van turns up and our guys jump out and start humping impressively large cases into the venue – just like roadies. Cameras are set up, and a sophisticated sound system is established. There are control desks in corners and at first glance, you might think you were on the Starship Enterprise. (I love it!)

And it’s so good because we are partnering with top-of-the-range European tech companies working at the absolute cutting edge. They are the future and they’re here already. Our role covers a wide brief. In many ways, we’re a marketing agency. In addition to our own projects and philosophy, we want to help others spread their word and their vision across all platforms (including social media, which we use extensively ourselves). And we’re the promoters: we will find the venue and set it up according to the requirements of those whose event it is – anyone whose interests and ambitions fall under the same umbrella of changing the way we do things for the better.

So how does it work with those who want to work with us? We call them ‘partners’ rather than ‘clients’ because that is how we see them – as part of the same movement working for global sustainability. We talk – of course; we learn from them what they want to convey to a wider audience; and then we help them map out what you might call a campaign. For instance, we might suggest three separate hybrid events over a three-month period, culminating in a summit.

But we don’t simply set up the events – find the venue, provide the equipment, etc. We also use our networks to generate the maximum number of valuable leads to build an International Entrepreneurship & Leadership network. We’ll do what is appropriate to make the campaign as successful as it can be, including the long list of things which go into any such event, starting with a test run to make sure everything is going to work smoothly, followed by an agenda for each day’s event, starting with Registration, Opening & Welcome Address, through Keynote Speeches and Topic Dialogues to Networking opportunities – not forgetting catering and refreshments. Each campaign is unique but every single one receives our dedicated focus and benefits from our highly sophisticated equipment. EUTECH will be 100% responsible for the complete setup of every event. As I mentioned above, everything will be recorded producing a fine archive for the partner, but also a useful source of ideas for other parties. How do new partners get to work with us? We’re not that hard to find! Tech. Forum would be one place to start, but we put a lot of content out on YouTube for those who would like to see what’s on offer and weigh up whether it would be a good fit for their plans and projects.

We at EUTECH are already working on dates and destinations for our own Sustainability Roadshow, and all details and developments will be posted online as soon as we have them. Don’t be shy: please join us! I look forward to meeting and greeting you, either virtually or in the real world of smiles, handshakes, and the joy of face-to-face discussion.