Kuala Lumpur Snatches RISE

5th Jan, 2021
Asia’s largest technology conference leaves Hong Kong after five-year stint as Malaysia wins bid and secures 10-year deal. Move unrelated to HK political strife, says Web Summit

Malaysia has signed a deal to host the RISE Conference in a move that sees the conference switch from Hong Kong where it was held for five years. Web Summit, the company behind the annual event, said RISE 2022 will be held in Kuala Lumpur in a 10-year deal after a bid led by Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) was chosen earlier this month. It also announced a new event, called Web Summit Tokyo, that will launch in 2022, too.

In November 2019, Web Summit announced it was postponing RISE to 2021 amid the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong. But the 2021 event won’t be held, with RISE resuming with its 2022 Kuala Lumpur event instead. Of course, this year has seen a series of other major event cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Paddy Cosgrave, co-founder and CEO of Web Summit, told the South China Morning Post that the decision to move its Asia event to Malaysia had nothing to do with the civil unrest in Hong Kong during 2019.

In 2019, RISE attracted more than 16,000 people to Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre with leading startups and Fortune 500 companies participating. “We are always looking to find the best homes for our events. We’ve built the best tech conference in the world in Lisbon, and now have the certainty that comes with a 10-year deal and an incredible venue. We’re excited for RISE to grow from strength to strength in its new home,” Cosgrave said in a statement issued after the MDEC partnership was signed.

Web Summit Tokyo will take place in September 2022 as part of its global expansion, which will also include an event in Brazil; Rio de Janeiro or Porto Alegre are currently being considered as the location.  “We are extremely grateful for the support the city of Hong Kong has given RISE over the last five years. This is not a goodbye to Hong Kong. We hope to return to the city in future with a brand new event,” Cosgrave added.

Casey Lau, co-host of RISE, said: “I was absolutely thrilled when Paddy chose Hong Kong to launch RISE back in 2015. It helped put Hong Kong on the map as a destination for tech. It makes sense to now expand the conference into other parts of Asia. Hosting RISE in Kuala Lumpur is going to expand the event into an exciting region of Southeast Asia.” Web Summit has already announced plans to hold its flagship event as an in-person conference in November 2021 in Lisbon, Portugal.

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