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The BlockDown Festival in Croatia last year

Techies look to Algarve: BlockDown Festival comes to Vilamoura

Algarve establishing itself as a leading destination for tech events

From July 10 to 12, Vilamoura will host the highly-anticipated Blockdown Festival, spearheaded by Erhan Korhaliller, the CEO of EAK Digital. The Resident spoke to Erhan to learn more about the event and why more and more techies are looking to the region as a place to live, work and invest.

The festival, taking place at Lick Venue, focuses on the “intersection of Web3 (a new internet concept) and culture”, such as fashion, music, sports and gaming, and aims to break free from the “cookie-cutter mould” of traditional “boring” conferences, Erhan told us.

Promised are a wide range of talks, performances and parties in order to attract those within the technological and crypto worlds as well as mainstream audiences.

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Photo: Mario Gregov

The BlockDown Festival was created in 2020 in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, its name combining ‘block’ from blockchain technologies and ‘down’ from the lockdown caused by the pandemic.

The list of speakers includes some big names, such as Robby Yung, CEO of Animoca Brands North America, or Pär Helgosson, head of Web3 & Metaverse for French football club PSG.

“It’s a huge deal for us to have them join our speakers,” Erhan said.

The list also includes Ida Kymmer, Director of Global Affairs at Journee; Julian O’Hayon, Co-Founder & CEO of Blvck Paris; John (Max) Wolfe, Web3 Lead for McLaren Racing; Katrina Gamueda-Smith, Chief of Staff for Vayner3; Aaron Arnold, Co-Founder of Altcoin Daily; Ben Lakoff, General Partner at Bankless Ventures; Wes Levitt, Head of Strategy at Theta Labs; Timothy Mangnall, CEO of Capital Block; Nate Whitehill, CEO of CryptoSlate; Chris Dawe, Co-Founder of SuperSpaces; José Maria Macedo, Co-Founder of Delphi Digital; Jack O’Connor, Head of Community (EMEA) at Algorand; João Leite, Head of Business Development for Polkastarter; and Mark Hendrickson, Product Lead at Hiro Wallet.

A Metaverse fashion show is also planned in which models will be wearing garments designed by 10 talented Metaverse fashion designers.

There will also be a Metaverse-style Hackathon, a performance by digital influencer DJ iah, a Catamaran VIP Tour, a Bored Ape Metaverse Party, and much more.

 Why Algarve?

Having held the 2022 edition of Blockdown Festival in Croatia, the organisers of the event had to choose a destination for this year’s edition which ultimately ended up being the Algarve, a region where Ehran believes there is great potential for growth.

“Portugal has become a real hub for crypto investors and the crypto community, and the Algarve has one of the most vibrant communities in Portugal,” he said.

“A lot of the crypto events are centralised in Lisbon, but we are passionate about bringing events to the Algarve, where I believe this will be the first large-scale event dedicated to Web3,” Ehran added.

As the organiser pointed out, Portugal has been attracting more and more investors thanks to its “amazing lifestyle”.

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“The crypto world can be high-paced, but being in the Algarve gives us a chance to breathe thanks to its lifestyle,” he said, adding that the event is attracting people from all over the world, from the USA all the way to Japan.

When asked whether the plan is to keep hosting the festival in the Algarve, Ehran was quick to respond: “Why not?”

More information about the festival can be found online. A standard ticket costs €499 (plus a €34.13 fee), while a rare ticket costs €1,119 (plus a €80.33 fee) and a legendary ticket is €4.999 (plus a €331.13 fee). A student ticket for college students is also available for €49 (plus a €4.43 fee).

What is Web3?

For those who are not up to date on their technological terms, Web3 may seem like a completely foreign concept. But for many, it is a new form of looking at the internet.

“Web1 was the first generation of the internet, when you would access a website and could read everything on it but couldn’t contribute or comment. Web2 was about writing: you could contribute, but the problem was that ownership of all the data that was contributed was owned by big corporations, so people would be giving away all of their contributions,” explained Erhan.

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Web3 seeks to be the answer to these issues.

“It is about taking ownership of the contributions you make to different platforms. With the advent of NFTs (non-fungible tokens), you can start getting paid for your efforts on platforms and the value you offer,” he added.

In others words, Web3 allows people to take ownership of their contributions, using technologies such as NFTs to establish ownership and even monetisation of their digital assets.

Algarve Tech Hub hailed “success”

The second edition of the Algarve Tech Hub Summit, held from June 21 to 23 at the Penha campus of the University of Algarve (Ualg), has been hailed a success by organisers.

Around 700 people registered for the event.

“We not only brought together the technology sector in the Algarve to reflect on the challenges for the future but also attracted a group of individuals from outside the ecosystem who were pleasantly surprised by the dynamics and strategic approach with which the Algarve is working in this area,” said Paulo Santos, vice-president of Algarve STP – Algarve Systems and Technology Partnership Association.

UAlg spokesperson André Botelheiro also praised the event, stating that the Algarve Tech Hub Summit “achieved its objectives of attracting individuals potentially interested in settling here to innovate, create jobs, and generate wealth.”

Miguel Fernandes, president of the Algarve Evolution association which brings together several technology companies, also praised the Algarve Tech Hub Summit.

“It is already the largest innovation event in the region, and the second edition was a tremendous success, leaving a remarkable impact on the progress and affirmation of the Algarve as an innovation hub. With a global audience and speakers, the event attracted participants from all over the world, including investors, venture capitalists, and technology enthusiasts,” he said.

In total, more than 40 nationalities were represented, including investors, entrepreneurs, students, researchers, and many more.

Fernandes also highlighted the “internationally renowned speakers from technological centres such as Silicon Valley in the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, among others, who delivered engaging presentations.”

“If the Algarve Tech Hub was, until recently, a dream and seen as a project with very ambitious goals, nowadays we see that the Algarve is already considered by many as one of the best lifestyle hubs internationally. We are witnessing an increasing number of remote workers, digital nomads, and ‘new Algarvians’ settling in our region, eager to undertake and collaborate with the regional ecosystem to develop and elevate the Algarve,” he added.

By Michael Bruxo
[email protected]