The re:publica in Berlin is Europe’s biggest conference on topics concerning digitisation and society, while also being one of the world’s most exceptional festivals on digital culture. Since its beginnings in 2007 with 700 bloggers in attendance, it has grown into an international society conference with 9,000 national and international participants (2017) coming from all areas of society.
The aim of the re:publica is to present the opportunities and advantages of digitisation in the individual spheres of life, while at the same time critically examining them through a look behind the scenes. Current developments aren’t just highlighted, but are also assessed in the long-term, with proposals being made for the future.
The visitors to re:publica constitute a cross section of our (digital) society. Participants include representatives from science, politics, business, hacker culture, NGOs, media and marketing, as well as bloggers, activists and social media experts.
The focus is always on facilitating a direct exchange of knowledge and the simultaneous networking of experts, users, creative minds, multipliers and innovators. This is because it’s becoming increasingly important in our digital world to work together and exchange experiences – and to do so face to face.
This networking allows for innovations and synergies between different areas of civil society, (net) politics, business, technology, science and (pop) culture to arise.
The active involvement of the participants is what makes the re:publica such a unique event. Anyone interested can submit exciting topics, ideas or projects, which themselves then become part of the programme. In this way, re:publica manages to achieve an elevated diversity in topics and extraordinary networking opportunities.
The wide range of topics on offer at re:publica wins over more and more sponsors and partners each year. This has led to a close collaboration with the Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg and MEDIA CONVENTION Berlin, the congress for the international media industry, which has been ongoing since 2014.
In addition, re:publica also organises sub-conferences which discuss and expand on current issues and topics of interest. For example, in 2016 the “re:fugees” sub-conference on the topic of migration and integration was held in cooperation with the German Federal Centre for Political Education (BPB). 2017 then saw re:publica team up with the Science Year 2016/2017 to host the “sub:marine” sub-conference, fitting perfectly to the “Seas and Oceans” topic track.
re:publica has also continued to maintain close, long-term partnerships with institutions, ministries, NGOS, companies and other organisations. Among them are companies such as Daimler AG, IBM, Microsoft, Deutsche Bank, Deutsche Telekom, Google, Deutsche Bahn AG, Telefonica or Mozilla; political foundations (Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Heinrich Böll Foundation, Friedrich Naumann Foundation); media outlets (ARD, ZDF, RBB, WDR); NGOs (WWF, World Data Lab); as well as governmental organisations like the GIZ or various federal ministries.
Facts and figures from re:publica 2017 in Berlin:
- Around 47 percent of the speakers at re:publica 2017 were female. Hardly any other event with a comparable focus can boast a similarly balanced visitor demographic.
- Over 9,000 visitors from 71 countries
- 1,030 int. speakers from 65 countries
- 500 hours of programme on three days
- Over 800 int. journalists
Last year featured the first conference to take place outside of Germany, with re:publica heading to Dublin (Ireland). On 20 October 2016, various questions concerning the digital society were discussed and debated on three stages, with over 200 interested participants and 33 speakers in attendance. There was a lot of room for discussion and a great personal exchange with the Irish digital community. The second re:publica in Dublin was held in September 2017.
This year also brought with it the first re:publica in Thessaloniki (Greece). As a result of the current economic situation, Greece today conveys a similar feeling of creative awakening that characterised Berlin in the years after the fall of the wall. The Greek region is not just home to a variety of innovations and creativity, but also has a special connection to Berlin. re:publica wants to enable the creation of a new space in the region, one which allows for the networking of the digital society and enables the exchange of ideas from the Mediterranean region, as well as strengthening the existing intersections to the Greek and European digital community.
re:publica is a lighthouse project for the digital society in Europe. A further internationalisation is needed to expand its significance. At the same time, the German Federal Foreign Office has certain shortcomings when it comes to its position on digitisation. It therefore makes sense to join forces here. With the support of the Federal Foreign Office, re:publica will act as a showcase for digitisation in Germany. This approach makes sense for a number of reasons.
Besides the event’s holistic concept (no narrowing of the perspective on purely economic topics) and the already existent international network, the re:publica also has an inclusive approach which mirrors the fundamental values of German foreign policy especially well. The skilful development of an international presence raises awareness for Germany as a viable location among digital talents, while on the other hand developing a network of locations outside of the country which can be utilized by players and stakeholders from the German digital society.