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I know there are lots of great tech conferences out there, and I may be biased living and working in the tech scene in Edinburgh, but I think it’s only fair that I share a secret with you: Edinburgh may be most famous for its arts festivals but there’s now a standout tech event which happens here every August as well: Turing Fest.
Whilst Turing Fest might not have the scale of Web Summit or the Nordic chic and pull of Slush, it’s quickly becoming a standout event in the European tech conference calendar and often boasts a stellar lineup that wouldn’t be out of place for a conference multiple times its size – as showcased by keynotes from Rand Fishkin, Des Traynor, Fred Destin and Eric Yuan in 2018.
Ahead of the announcement of this years agenda I caught up with Turing Fest CEO, Brian Corcoran, to explore the mission behind Turing Fest and what 2019 has in store for one of Europes best emerging tech festivals.
Why was Turing Fest set up and why in Edinburgh?
Turing Fest began as part of the ongoing community effort to build a thriving tech ecosystem in Edinburgh, and to provide a forum for the local tech community to come together to learn how to build better products and businesses, forge new bonds and have some fun out of the office. As we’ve grown, it’s become a much more international affair; in 2016, we had 600 attendees, mostly from Scotland; last year, we welcomed 2,000 people from 22 countries. Edinburgh’s a fantastic place to host an event like this: it’s got a vibrant local community, and hosting the event in August means the Fringe provides a pretty irresistible backdrop!
What was the thinking behind it?
First and foremost, the conference is about education: connecting attendees to some of the wisdom, experience and contextualized learning from leaders operating at the forefront of technology globally. When people go back to work after Turing Fest, our aim is that they will be a little better at what they do.
The other key objective is connecting people to each other: we’re working to create new networks between the local ecosystem and the wider global tech industry and to bring new tactical and strategic insights, technical expertise, and investment capital to Scotland’s tech sector.
Whilst Scotland has the potential to be one of Europe’s best ecosystems, it’s still a relatively young one: we need to create more opportunities for our startup community to come together and level up together. We’re really focused on creating new connections to help stimulate growth in the tech ecosystem — between team builders and technical talent; between founders and growth capital; between companies and their current and future customers.
What can we expect in 2019?
The basic format for 2019 is three mini-confs all happening simultaneously under one roof, and each spanning both days of the main conference.
The Build track focuses on the technical and creative aspects of building a tech business: engineering, design and product management.
The Grow track offers actionable insight into the commercial side of your business: how to build the marketing, growth, sales and customer success engines needed to succeed.
And lastly, the Lead track tackles both the big strategic questions and the smaller tactical details: things like how to scale your operations, teams and organizational culture to create lasting impact – but also questions like looking after individuals’ and teams’ mental health, or how physical space impacts how we work.
Our reasoning being that by sharing knowledge in these areas companies can really accelerate growth, in the right way.
For 2019, we’ll also be launching workshops for the first time: small groups learning about some of the key topics we’ll be covering in the conference, delivered by some of the best exponents and teachers in tech.
We also have a separate day called Next Gen for founders and investors – that runs on August 27th, the day before the main conference. The focus is there is founder-specific strategic content, as well as 1-2-1 meetings with mentors and investors.
We’ll be announcing our first speakers (and releasing 2-for-1 tickets!) in mid-February, so stay tuned…
What makes Turing Fest different/unique?
The driving philosophy behind Turing Fest is cross-functionality: we’re creating an event that provides actionable insight for your entire company. Many tech conferences are either very niche – not just engineering, say, but perhaps one specific framework or language – or, at the other end of the spectrum, so high level as to deliver little real, actionable benefit to attendees.
Tech companies are increasingly challenged to operate with cross-functional inputs, awareness and teams. Our programme is designed from the ground up to give each tribe — from engineers, marketers and product people to operations execs, revenue drivers or designers — up-to-date world-class insight in their discipline, but also to create opportunities for people to step out of their comfort zone a little bit, and engage with and learn alongside people working in parallel disciplines. The goal is to make people better at what they do, but also to foster more open and effective collaboration within teams and across the tech ecosystem.
January 27, 2019 at 11:10AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs