US boss for Stockholm international tech bash

Emma Löfgren
Emma Löfgren - [email protected]
US boss for Stockholm international tech bash

The new CEO of Symposium Stockholm, Natalia Brzezinski, has told The Local how she wants to turn the creative tech festival into a Nobel Prize event for young innovators across the world.


Symposium Stockholm unveiled US-based journalist, digital strategist and former The Local blogger Brzezinski as its new top boss on Monday, six months after Spotify founder Daniel Ek and DJ superstar Avicii's manager Ash Pournouri launched the annual event to much hype in the Swedish capital.

Mixing the tech and startup scene with the fashion and media industries, the June festival is again set to culminate in the two-day Brilliant Minds conference, where tech gurus, music stars and entrepreneurs get on stage to share ideas during the week of June 6th-12th next year.

The basic idea is to connect people who would otherwise not be in a room together.

“I believe that business happens in-between. So this is an attempt to bring together different sectors to formulate a long-term sustainable model. The world is changing so fast and our children will have to be innovators, creativity will be a form of survival,” said Brzezinski.

The festival gained a lot of international attention when it launched in Stockholm this summer. But Brzezinski revealed she has high hopes to turn the event into a staple in the global calendar.

“My job is to raise international awareness. I hope it becomes as much of a Swedish trademark as the Nobel award week, a kind of Nobel event for young creatives and innovators,” she said.

She first fell in love with the Nordic country when she moved there with her husband Mark Brzezinski, who served as US ambassador in Stockholm from 2011 to 2015. Today based in Washington DC, she hopes to use her American voice to help promote Sweden and Stockholm to the world.

“I want to show the world, not just that Sweden is cool, but that it is leading the way. You know the expression 'if you talk the talk, you have to walk the walk'? Well, the Swedes don't talk. They just walk. Americans can learn a lot from Sweden about gender, green issues, tech and sustainability,” she said.

She also hopes to make Symposium Stockholm and Brilliant Minds become the event of the year for the international startup scene. Stockholm, home to success stories such as iZettle, Klarna and Spotify was ranked third best city in Europe for startups earlier this autumn.

“Natalia is the perfect person to take Brilliant Minds to the next level and make it sustainable over time – she has been a bridge between Sweden, the US and the global stage for years now, and is someone who always questions the status quo and finds creative solutions in everything,” said co-founder Pournouri in a statement.

The project is one of a number of high profile Swedish business initiatives Brzezinski is currently taking part in. A champion of women's rights, she recently collaborated with Stockholm-based podcast firm Acast, quizzing female power players in business and politics on the challenges and strengths of being a woman.


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