Digital entrepreneurs united at START Summit

Last week I finished a busy week by spending Friday afternoon at START Summit, a two-day conference and fair on entrepreneurship and innovation. The set-up of the conference is a mix between fair, keynotes, and smaller workshops. I only visited briefly and there was too little time to attend everything, however, I was glad I went.

To me the most inspiring speaker was Ben Lang, who is a young and very creative entrepreneur. He mastered the art of starting small endeavors that eventually turn into bigger businesses, because when you build something that you really need there’s a big chance that others will love it too. One of his projects is Mapme where you can create custom interactive maps, for example to list all the places for great Hummus (Ben is the creator of the “International hummus day” as well).

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The biggest topic at the START summit was VR and AR. Head-mounted devices were everywhere, from the head of the VR/AR Association at the keynote stage, to the virtual reality cinema (see picture below), to a very interesting panel discussion on the use of VR in healthcare. People would automatically think of surgeons operating in VR, however, what I found super interesting was the use of VR devices for patients recovering from a stroke. Patients can probably train certain movements in VR in order to prepare their bodies This discussion reminded me of an article on lucid dreams that I recently read (in Süddeutsche Zeitung – German only). It said that people who are having a lucid dream – being asleep but being aware of this fact – can actually learn certain movements and improve in certain tasks, such as climbing or throwing darts. This is because lucid dreams, and also VR may prepare your brain to perform movements and this has an effect on the actual performance. So my fencing coach is right when he says that you have to imagine the hit and then you can set it :-).

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One thing that I noticed at this event: I was missing diversity. Not only because most participants were male, but most were dressed the same way, had the same way of presenting, a certain way of communicating their stories, etc. Funny, that a crowd that is actually proud of disrupting old hierarchies and doing things a new way is actually very uniform in itself. I would love to see more diversity in the digital innovation sphere – more females, more entrepreneurs older than 45, more people with a non-university background.

Other than that, it was great to have such an inspiring event in St.Gallen where you can hands-on experience new technologies and get in touch with motivated young students and entrepreneurs.

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