The Digital Freedom Festival and leading accelerators 500 Startups and Rockstart are looking for the best startups in Europe
Oct 11

This year on the 27th and 28th of November for the second time Riga (Latvia) will host the intimate, yet influential technology and startup conference Digital Freedom Festival, and in cooperation with leading accelerators 500 Startups (USA), Rockstart (the Netherlands) and the Latvian Business Angel Network (LatBAN) are looking for the best startups in Europe.

Co-founder and CEO of the DFF Dagnija Lejiņa says “Our event is more than just a startup conference. It is a multi-event meeting platform, which takes a special interest in uniting the world of technology. Nevertheless, our intention is to serve as a springboard for the future of European startups, and to provide a place for startups to test their ideas before they enter international waters.”

500 Startups pitch – a “fast track” to the Silicon Valley

Seed stage startups (from €250K and up) are invited to participate in a top-grade pitch competition in cooperation with 500 Startups, the world’s largest startup accelerator. The 10-15 best startups will have an opportunity to participate in the individual workshop with 500 Startups mentors on November 26th, and the best 3-5 will pitch their ideas on the main stage at the Digital Freedom Festival on November 28th. The winner will receive a fast track to the final negotiation round for the next 500 Startups batch in Silicon Valley.

“A startup founder has to be like a long distance runner – you need patience and endurance,” says last year’s winner, Funderful founder Raimonds Kulbergs. “However, participating in the 500 Startups accelerator program is like running at twice the speed. It’s an unique chance to learn from top tier experts, to receive advice from people worth billions of dollars, and to bulk up for future challenges.”

The application form should be completed by October 18th, and finalists will be announced around November 1st.

Leading European accelerator Rockstart looks for the best in AI

The international union of the founders, entrepreneurs, investors and mentors Rockstart based in the Netherlands is looking for the best artificial intelligence startups in the region. Winners of the startup pitch competition will have an opportunity to take part in the final selection round of the first European artificial intelligence accelerator programme hosted by Rockstart in the Netherlands during autumn of 2018.

Rune Theill, Co-Founder and CEO at Rockstart: “The goal of the acceleration program for the best startups is to provide them with the access to new markets, financing, the startup community, and knowledge. Our aim is to work together with startups that have extensive domain knowledge and an understanding of which real-life problems can be efficiently solved with the help of artificial intelligence.”

If selected, starting from October 2018 the highest-ranked startup will have an opportunity to spend half a year in the city of ’s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands. They will work hand-in-hand with mentors and partners such as the Jheronimus Academy of Data Science (JADS), the US technology company NVIDIA, the software developers Atlassian, etc.

During the competition startups will have the chance to win a prize of 20,000 EUR, receive additional financing for office rental and the support of mentors valuing 80,000 EUR, and more than 50 various support tools valued at approximately 600,000 EUR.

The deadline for startup pitch competition applications is October 23rd; the application form can be found here. The finalists (10–15 startups) will be announced on November 3rd.

LatBAN Pitch – a brilliant opportunity for pre-seed startups

Motivated startup teams with a developed, or almost developed product prototype are invited to apply to the LatBAN pitch competition. Special attention will be paid to the marketing strategy of the product or service offered. The top 10 pre-seed startups will have the opportunity to present their business ideas to Latvian and international business angels at the Digital Freedom Festival on November 28th.

To apply for the Investment Session, startups must complete the application form for the November Investment Session, available on the international private investors platform until November 5th. The finalists will be announced on November 9th. To participate in the final session of the competition, the top 10 startups will be invited to purchase the Digital Freedom Festival Startup Pass.

Why to join the Digital Freedom Festival – read here.


About Digital Freedom Festival

The Digital Freedom Festival is a global technology, startup, policy and lifestyle festival, gathering 1300 new technology and startup entrepreneurs, experts, policy makers, investors, journalists and speakers from all over the world in Riga from the 27th to the 28th of November. We encourage discussion amongst all stakeholders on how technologies can truly “make the world a better place”, and to bring the benefits of the digital revolution to every member of society.

The conference is organised by the Digital Freedom Festival team as well as the reputation management company Lejiņa & Šleiers and NGO DFF. The Digital Freedom Festival supporters: Strategic Partner – Lattelecom, Official Bank – Norvik Banka, Pitch Competition Partner – 500 Startups, European Commission, Ministry of Economics of Latvia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, airBaltic, PINS, Latvia 100 Office, Association of Latvian Commercial Banks, Latvian Business Angel Network (LatBAN), Rockstart Accelerator, Latvian Startup Association, SAMSUNG, NATO StratCOM, Embassy of Israel to Latvia, U.S. Embassy Riga, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Latvia, Slush, Mailigen, Printful, Coffee Pixels, S/B PRO Startup Studio, LETA, Diena, Star FM, CoFounder, IR, and others.

Two-day festival tickets are available for purchase at

You are welcome to follow the latest Digital Freedom Festival news via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts (#DFFestival).