23 January 2017

From Smart Cities to 4th Industrial Revolution: Day 1 | Unconvention

We were happy to welcome participants much earlier than the official start of the panel, all excited to test for themselves the Virtual Reality showcase; we’ve tried these gadgets for ourselves and we’ve literally experienced what ‘being immersed with technology’ really means. Read the highlights of the day:

  • InnoPitch Mentoring Session

We started the first day of Unconvention 2017 by welcoming AnumericsSaffeEurocomplyMoleqlIncludeon and Homepod 6 outstanding startups founded by young innovators, finalists for the InnoPitch competition. Two renowned mentors were waiting for them: Philippe Szombat a coach and trainer from BrightBiz, and Michel Duchateau from Fit4Start Accelerator Programme who had to make sure that the finalists score as high as possible at the Tuesday’s pitching session, as well as advice on how to succeed with their business.

  • Smart Cities: Today and Tomorrow

Dr. Susana Sargento from VeniamWorks defines a Smart City as a having more information to make concrete proposals to improve people’s lives. She believes that cars should become moving hot spots as it will create more services for people. This means of course that we will need to share more information and sometimes people are afraid of doing this, says Susana Sargento.

David Litwak from Mozio thinks that a smart city reduces anxiety by connectivity. His company is a great example of why smart cities are great for societies: it uses data to make sense of it and analyses where people are moving, having the potential to significantly reduce traffic congestion.

  • Opening Reception

Since its first edition five years ago, Unconvention has always been about innovation, ideas, and entrepreneurship. Anyhow, the European startup ecosystem has changed significantly during the last five years. For EYIF founder and CEO Kumardev Chatterjee this anniversary is full of nostalgia. Together with his team he invites everyone to “join the entrepreneurship journey, because it will be one interesting ride; now it’s the time!” or, to say it with Peter Hopwood’s words, #Unconv17’s MC Host: “Let’s celebrate the European know-how, the newly created jobs, mind-blowing innovations and growing global, this year’s theme”.

  • Artificial Intelligence: Will the Robots take your job?

MEP Mady Delvaux, Dr. Chris Verhoeven from TU Delft, Professor Mark Coeckelbergh from the University of Vienna, and David Hoffman from Intel, discussed together with the public what will AI mean for mankind’s future and if today’s jobs will be replaced by robots.

Many believe that in the near future it is likely that artificial intelligence will touch many aspects of our lives. Here, Mady Delvaux points out a very big role of policy makers to take an interest in this issue, it is vital that robots should serve humans, not the other way around. A solution for the unemployment which comes with this technological revolution is, according to her, education. Though not everyone will be able to access this high level of education which is why we should include basic incomes and safety nets in these policies.

Dr. Chris Verhoeven on the other hand thinks that it is very unlikely that robots will take over our lives though it is very likely that they will reshape society and take over repetitive jobs, especially because in the long run autonomous machines will be safer than a human touch, looking for example at self-driving cars which are in contact with information about the environment. Technology, in the end, needs to improve the life of human beings and will undoubtedly offer tremendous opportunities in many areas. David Hoffman mentions examples as the future very necessary help in the nursing industry and data sharing in cancer research.

How innovation is going to change the economy and society is not clear, but as long as the focus lies within employing people in a more useful way and distribute the resulting wealth of this revolution there is a consensus that AI can have benefits for everyone.

  • 4th Industrial Revolution

The world is about to experience its 4th Industrial Revolution and governments, businesses and societies need to be prepared. It is an opportunity for the entire world to thrive.

We’ve invited Andrus Ansip the Vice President of the European Commission, Philippe Duvivier from Parrot, Kristina Tsvetanova from Blitab, Tytus Cytowski and Kumardev Chatterjee to discuss how startups can thrive in this revolution.

Andrus Ansip admits that there is no Digital Single Market (DSM) yet in the European Union, but the Commission is actively working to make this a reality. A major blocking point in the creation of the DSM is that data does not flow freely. Currently, there are 28 data centres in the 28 Member States which affect the ability of the tech startups to innovate and expand in the EU. In the upcoming months, the Commission will present to the public a new set of proposals that will try create the environment for a free, but also safe, data flow within the EU.

Tytus Cytowski considers, however, that the Digital Single Market will only add bureaucracy to companies and the policies will not create more job opportunities. He believes that “data should not be sold to governments but rather everyone should own their own data”

Kristina Tsvetanova, creator of Blitab, a device that enables blind users to type, play and learn with the new kind of technology considers that “data drives innovation”.

We are looking forward to more insights in tomorrow’s session!