The new building of the Slovak National Theatre hosted The FutureNow conference followed by the 7th edition of startup “Oscars” in Slovakia, the Startup Awards. Here is a short roundup of both events.
The Future is Happening Now
The conference part of the day was opened by the CEO of Neulogy, the event organizer, Peter Kolesar. “For us, the philosophy of FutureNow is to offer prime content, prime venue, a focused audience complimented by networking with investors, influencers, corporates, and others.” The organizers prepared a star-studded all-day program for almost 1000 attendees, from innovators to businesses to startup enthusiasts.
The overall theme of the conference evolved around 3 major questions:
- What is the role of Central Europe in defining the automotive future?
- How is the internet transforming our world but creating risks at the same time?
- How can governments adjust to new technologies to benefit the public?
The morning keynote was given by the CEO of Vork and Orcasci Mark Turrell. His presentation made the crowd both excited and slightly scared of the future to come, such as beef from labs and the battles for critical thinking in education. Christoph Meinel, the CEO of HPI Institute for IT Systems Engineering, successfully teaches people to innovate in teams through his approach called “Design Thinking”. HPI is also the largest internet open lecture hall. If you are worried about the protection of your data, Ondrej Krehel, the CEO of Lifars, ensures you that you actually have a point. Not only global warming is an issue, but also global cyber warming. We are all digitally naked.
Bitcoin, blockchain, and governments
Keeping the theme of Slovak speakers, the next on stage was Pavol Rusnak, aka “Stick”, the founder of SatoshiLabs and TREZOR, a compact bitcoin wallet device. After the speech, skepticism about bitcoins and blockchain loosened up even though the application and practicality are just at the beginning. Speaking of blockchain and cryptocurrencies, Alexander Vasylchenko as the CEO of Sofitto, explained to the crowd how the hype and reality of blockchain technology can be compared. Is blockchain applicable? As he says, “hammers are looking for nails”.
Do you know what Tango Alliance is? This was one of the main questions Riika Erkikilä, co-founder of FinestLove, caught everyone’s attention with. Governments are not moving us forward enough and the Tango Alliance describes the cooperation between Argentina and Finland to initiate changes in governments.
Transformation of transportation
One of the last (not least) areas on the schedule were transportation and autonomy. Ariel Sella, the managing director of Capsula.studio, and Raz Peleg, the Sales Manager at Mobileye, shared their insights on automotive technology and how its disruptiveness reshapes the human mobility. Afterwards, Douglas MacAndrew, the CTO of the infamous Aeromobil, came and Aeromobil was for the first time ever publicly displayed in Slovakia.
The evening keynote came straight from the Silicon Valley. Singularity University’s Amin Toufani demonstrated the exponential growth of technologies in action, from amusing pictures to engaging videos.
Besides the amazingly put together program, everyone interested in the future of technology and innovation could spend time on networking and in the relax zones, provided by co-working space HubHub and X-bionic Sphere. The startup zone presented startups with their already successful products.
The winners of SASK 2017
This year, two new awards were introduced besides the main Startup Awards winner: the Challenger and the Mission award.
The Challenger Award was given to the best Slovak scale up. Fifty experts nominated DECENT, Exponea, and Sli.do. A public poll decided that the fastest Slovak growing startup is blockchain-based content distribution platform DECENT. From Corvus, Mentegram, and Sensoneo, it was the last one that won the Mission Award for a startup with the most influential social impact. Sensoneo helps with sensory waste in containers.
The evening’s keynote speaker, Vitaly Golomb from HP Tech Ventures and the author of Accelerated Startup, presented his ideas on How to beat Silicon Valley. Read our exclusive interview with Vitaly here.
A year after MultiplexDX’s winning in 2016, Slovakia was waiting for the new startup of year. Eight startups made their 4-minute pitches followed by a 4-minute jury Q&A. From the 8 nominees, Kontentino, Matsuko, Minty, Neseda, Netcore (Unimus), Poetic Studio, Saftra Photonics, Virtual Medicine, the best Slovak startup of 2017 is Saftra Photonics that has developed a portable device collecting data about water pollution.
“We are a spin-off from P.J. Safarik University in Kosice. And there is only a small number of firms like us but this is also a feasible way to found a business. One thing is to found a startup as a student project or as a young creative business. However, the other thing is to achieve independance and monetize your excellence as a university spin-off. This kind of business is not that common reality here in Slovakia yet, but we believe that our example will boost others who think in a similar way,” says Miroslav Konecny, the Senior Project Manager at Saftra Photonics.
Photos: Startup Awards 2017