To inspire and connect, that was the aim of this year’s edition of The Future of High Tech, part of StartupFest Europe. With inspirational keynote speakers as Dan Barry (NASA) and Alexander von Frankenberg (High-Tech Gründerfonds), and matchmaking possibilities between industry leaders, investors and innovative entrepreneurs was the event at the High Tech Systems Park in Hengelo a great success. Simultaneously, students and startups delivered new solutions with facial recognition during the Amazon Web Services Hackathon.

Corporates need to open up and invite startups to work together on tackling important issues and focus on innovation. Constantijn van Oranje, special envoy of StartupDelta, and Job van Harmelen, director communications of Thales, emphasized this in the opening speech. “Fieldlab the Garden, part of Thales, is a great example of the way we are opening up our organization”, Job explains. “The right mindset is where it starts”, includes Victor van der Chijs, president at the University of Twente. “We have built a system that supports entrepreneurial ambitions. Our aim is to transfer knowledge to companies and society.” Moderator of the day was Dave Blank, Chief Scientific Ambassador at the University of Twente.

The impact of robotics revolution and trust
Theme of this edition was ‘Towards a Smarter Industry’. Dan Barry, former NASA astronaut and CEO of Denbar Robotics was the first keynote speaker. Dan talked about the impact of robotics revolution, artificial intelligence and the element of trust. “Should you trust a machine? Do you trust your bike, car or an airplane? And what about a robot helping around the house or operating on you? Although a machine is better at flying an airplane, you still want the human to make the decisions. The success of innovation is built on personal trust.” This also applies to startups and corporates. “You can build confidence by contributing to the open source community. First by asking questions, and then by answering them.”

Watch here the reconstruction of US Airways Flight 1549 Dan Barry showed during his keynote, in which the captain has to make a quick decision the moment he loses all engine power.

Bullshit or disruptive innovation
Alexander von Frankenberg, managing director of High-Tech Gründerfonds, discussed the topic of disruptive innovation. “Innovation is hindered by the unconscious process of resisting change.” This resistance can help you recognize disruptive innovation as well. “Recognizing disruptive innovation is essential for survival”, Alexander explains as he refers to Nokia. “If bullshit is the first thing you think after hearing about a new development, product or business model, it may well be a disruptive innovation. Like the new monetary system Bitcoin, the truth from IBM Watson and the taxi service by Uber. That last one might cut the automotive industry in half.” What does this mean for corporates and startups? “Change will accelerate massively. We must stay flexible, form our own opinion and corporates and startups need to innovate together. And do not forget: getting funding in Europe is much easier than in Silicon Valley US.”

Connecting the virtual with the physical
Not only disruptive innovation and trust are important things for a smarter industry, also the Internet of Things can create new business opportunities. “The Internet of Things is the same as connecting the virtual with the physical”, clarifies Carolien Nijhuis, Managing Director Internet of Things (IoT) at KPN. ”The impact of Internet of Things is everywhere: in humans, in companies and our society. It can make care more efficient and accessible. Take the transportation of vaccines to Nigeria for instance. IoT connects people and business and saves humans through technology. To reach impact and disruptive innovation using IoT and create new business opportunities for smart industry, you have to work together.”

Pitch & Match
After three inspiring keynote speakers, the startups were given the opportunity to pitch for corporates as KPN, Thales, Department of Defense and Trumph/Axoom during the Pitch & Match sessions. Besides that, there were plenty of opportunities for matchmaking between startups, investors and corporates at the Matchmaking Pleyn with corporates as EY, Rabobank and Oost NL.

Hackathon delivers new solutions
From 8:00am until 3:00pm, seven teams of the brightest minds found new solutions on face recognition during the Amazon Web Services Hackathon. “The atmosphere was superb, the teams were very energetic and some serious work was delivered,” concludes mentor Jose Manuel Rodriguez Martinez of Amazon Web Services at the end of the day. “The teams consisted of students and startups, and developed great ideas with great potential.” Team Facematch won the grand prize of €1.000 and tickets for CapitalFest. One of the team members: “Our app ‘Facematch’ is a smart multiplatform app which can match faces in a visual record, in photos and videos, and extract information relevant to the people and location they are in. It has the potential to become Truecaller for faces.”

Rogier Ikink, moderator of the Hackathon from Novel-T: “We were impressed by the ingenuity and quality of the work done by the teams. Amazon Web Services spontaneously awarded a second prize of €500 for the runner-up and their solution for registering for an event using face recognition. With these solutions and the new connections that are made, this Hackathon was a great success!”

Bring human performance back
At the end of the day, Lieutenant Colonel drs. Ted Meeuwsen of the Royal Netherlands Air Force, asked the participants if we are throwing away our unique capabilities. Ted says: “In the 1950’s captain Kittinger showed us courage and human performance by being his own Guinea pig testing rocket ejection seats. Nowadays, we think we can do anything but we humans might be the limiting factor for achieving technological solutions. Let’s focus on developments that bring the human performance back in design. By creating an open innovation structure, get new ideas implemented faster and speed up. At the Royal Airforce, we started with a new organizational form together with TNO. In Aeolus, we concentrate on solving real problems with the help of startups, knowledge institutes and government. Together we can realize dreams. Let’s explore the power of human intelligence and the future of high tech.”

Matches and follow-up appointments
The Future of High Tech was part of StartupFest Europe and organized by Novel-T. Jaap Beernink, CEO of Novel-T looks back on a successful event: “This is where companies opening up and inviting in young entrepreneurs starts. We gathered around 300 of the brightest minds in emerging technologies and entrepreneurship at the High Tech Systems Park in Hengelo. Startups had the chance to meet up with investors and pitch their innovations for organizations like KPN, Thales, Axoom, Trumpf and EY. These Pitch & Match sessions with the tracks ‘Artificial Intelligence’, ‘Unmanned Systems’ and ‘Production Technology’ resulted in interesting matches and follow-up appointments. Together with the talks by the experts, this day inspired to move towards a smarter industry.”


Photography: Eric Brinkhorst