2015 summarized, 2016 in focus: Hub Conference Berlin 2015

On December 10th, representatives of businesses, science and politics came together in order to review 2015 and discuss disruptive technologies and digital trends for 2016. On three stages, key stakeholders analyzed and discussed recent developments, achieved milestones and areas in need of improvements.

Discussing the drivers of the digital market in Europe, Claudie Nemat (Deutsche Telekom), Prof. Gesche Joost (Berlin University of the Arts) and John Higgins (Digital Europe) agreed that for Germany to play a key role, the private sector and politics need to work hand in hand. Although, the private sector might be the driving force in this, it won’t get far without government support claims Prof. Joost. This is of crucial importance, seeing that many of the hidden champions are not necessarily just found in Germany’s main cities, but in the countryside and small towns. Therefore, in order to unlock the country’s full potential, a continued goal should be to interlink and be aware of all the relevant actors.

Claudia Nemat goes even further, by stating that on top of the interplay between politics and private sector, Germany needs to work on an ingrained trait. According to her, the country is still too male, too functional, too manger and command. In order to be a leader in the digital market we need incorporate boldness: “Do it full heartedly and with passion. If we fail, fail fast and move on.” (Claudia Nemat)

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (Spitzberg Partners) argues that should we achieve that boldness and embrace a more failing-fast-state-of-mind, Germany has the potential to become driving force in the digital trends of 2016. In his opinion, the EU could take the lead in three sectors:

1.    Artificial intelligence
2.    Robotics
3.    Blockchain Technologies

Investor developments and trends was the key thematic of the panel discussion between Eva Juliane Jerratsch (Venture Ladies),  Daria Saharova (Vito Ventures), Laura Masel (IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft mbH) and Videesha Kunkulagunta (Redstone).

2015 clearly showed an increase in interest by foreign investors in Europe and Germany in particular. One immediate outcome of this is that the funds raised have increased, as the example of the €82 million EUR round of Kreditech showed in September 2015. However, the perception of crowdfunding in the investment scene is still a mixed one. Whereas for hardware, crowdfunding can be an extremely useful tool in the early phase to test the market’s appetite, it is not necessarily well perceived for other business ideas.

Although we have not reached the needed acceptance of failure yet, entrepreneurs are moving in the right direction with the likeliness to found again being on the rise. Furthermore, VCs are also raising second funds in Europe.  Companies can gain directly from the increased interest by VCs in Europe through the heightened competition amongst them. They strive for establishing relationships with founders much earlier on and the importance of the personal network of each investor gains even more weightage. According to Videesha Kunkulagunta, the best deals still come from her network, “basically from people one knows”. Concluding, the panel reconfirmed many prevalent indicators in 2015, highlighting augmented reality and cyber security as two key sectors of interest for investors in 2016.