Deep tech topics took centre stage Thursday (May 23, 2019) at the Hamburg Innovation Summit (#HHIS) underway in the historic Fischauktionshalle Altona. Some delegates also found time to enjoy the sunny outdoors surrounded by colourful food trucks offering burgers, craft beer and vegan food in the Port of Hamburg. In the late 19th century, fish were traded here for the first time. Two-hundred years later, the halls are buzzing with talk of artificial intelligence, virtual reality, blockchain and robotics. More than 70 exhibitors and keynotes provided food for thought in terms of industry and technology, tradition, innovation, knowledge transfer. The 1,200 delegates also had plenty of opportunities to network and reap as much as possible from the one-day summit.
Challenges of modern cities
During his opening speech, Peter Tschentscher, Mayor of Hamburg, said: “The great challenges of modern metropolises in the 21st century i.e. climate protection, mobility and digital change require new technologies and creative solutions. These arise when politics, business and science work together. Hamburg has good prerequisites for innovative companies – outstanding universities and research institutions, innovation parks in which the transfer of knowledge is promoted, and start-ups are supported by the Investitions- und Förderbank.” Events revolved around Future City, New Work and Deep Tech, innovations and the future of technology. Visitors seized the opportunity to try out technologies on show in the HHIS expo and to experience them up close.
Innovation parks – science meets business
Representatives of all the Research & Innovations Parks (R&I Parks) met at Hamburg Invest’s booth for talks with Tschentscher. The status of their projects, in particular Science City Bahrenfeld, which is to be built by 2040 topped the agenda with the first tenders due to start in 2020. In reference to the shortage of skilled workers, Dr. Rolf Strittmatter, Managing Director of Hamburg Invest, noted: “Innovation needs places and people who brighten them up with creative ideas and create innovations.” The shortage of skilled workers in the fields of mathematics, information technology, natural sciences and technology (MINT) came to 311,300 at the end of April, according to a report by the Cologne IW Institute of the German Economy. Yet, Hamburg is faring well as a location of choice for MINT students, a study by Deloitte on German tech hubs has found.
During panels on sustainable innovations, the need for three core skills became clear. Martin Dehn, Head of Emerging Technologies & Concepts at Airbus, stressed: “We need trust in processes that we may not yet be able to discern fully.” Ragnar Kruse, CEO and Co-Founder of Smaato, echoed this opinion, saying: “We need courage to think about things that are not en vogue today.” Lastly, the need for “further education and experience” as well as new, smart tools and a certain instinct for promising business models in line with traditional Hanseatic business virtues was highlighted.
Deep tech and disruption
Technology-based trends and innovations took centre stage in the interactive expo, during workshops, speed dates, science slams and in the many talks and panels. A discussion on “Deep Tech – What will soon be state of the art” featured Dr. Carsten Brosda, Senator of Culture and Media, Kruse, Dehn, and Professor Ed Brinksma, President of TUHH, and Thomas Range, a non-fiction author. Brinksma has previously outlined the concept of deep technology and how it can lead to disruption or innovation in an interview with Hamburg News.
“Innovation is like driving a car – either you can or can’t do it. But you could learn it, couldn’t you?” said Arne Weber, Managing Director of HC Hagemann, and noted: “An entrepreneur doesn’t ask himself that. An entrepreneur needs ideas and innovation, otherwise he is not one.” What better way of putting it.