July 11, 2020

In-app translation will encourage more CEOs to attend conferences: RISE co-host

PUBLISHED : July 11, 2019 - 17:34

UPDATED : July 11, 2019 - 17:34

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HONG KONG -- Conferences can get dull when language barriers cloud a visionary’s message.


Paddy Cosgrave speaks at a press conference at RISE 2019 on July 11.
Lim Jeong-yeo/The Korea Herald

Paddy Cosgrave, the co-host of Asia’s biggest tech conference RISE, said in a closed-door interview with The Investor on July 11 that he hopes to get more non-English speaking CEOs on stage at the global tech conferences he hosts by expanding simultaneous translation services on mobile apps.

“The RISE app this year provides Mandarin translation for all the sessions,” Cosgrave said, adding that multiple language services will be implemented at the Web Summit in November.

Apart from the RISE tech conference in Hong Kong that marks its fifth year this year, Cosgrave is also behind the birth of the 10-year-old Web Summit in Lisbon and the 6-year-old Collision Conference in Toronto.

At the latest event held Monday through Thursday, RISE estimated 16,000 participants. Collision and Web Summit in 2018 had 25,000 and 70,000 participants, respectively.

Given the number of attendees at tech conferences, he said that “handing everyone translation headsets is a very antiquated way of doing it.”

By embedding translation services into the conference apps, participants only need to download it to listen to all the sessions with real-time translations.

This means the CEOs giving presentations can speak in their native tongue for maximum delivery.

“Every time we visit Korea, we try to talk to major companies’ CEOs to invite them to speak at our conferences,” said Cosgrave, but so far he has only gotten three -- from Samsung, Market Kurly and Coupang.

David Eun, president of Samsung NEXT and chief innovation officer of Samsung Electronics, spoke at the Web Summit in 2018; Sophie Kim, CEO of food delivery and logistics platform Market Kurly, spoke at RISE 2019; and Kartick Narayan, vice president of e-commerce platform Coupang spoke at RISE 2018.

Cosgrave suspects that the reluctance from many Korean CEOs -- and executives from other countries whose native language is not English -- may not only have to do with their extremely packed schedules, but partly with the language barriers.

Following Mandarin which has already been implemented in the RISE app, Cosgrave expects to launch Japanese services in 2020 and Korean by 2021.

“And then everyone can give their best presentations and learn from others,” Cosgrave said.

RISE 2019 took place at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center from Monday through Thursday.

Korean startups Posture360, Adriel, TOROOC, S.Lab and Roborus entered the PITCH session at the conference, although unsuccessfully. Winning startups in the PITCH earn a special place at the bigger tech event, Web Summit, in Lisbon in November.

By Lim Jeong-yeo (

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