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SuperNova

A FLASHBACK

From September 27th till September 30th, the tech event SuperNova took place in Antwerp: call it Tomorrowland for innovators, marketeers, researchers and digital creatives. A one-of-a-kind experience, there’s no doubt about that. But what were the most important lessons learned this year? Rachel Young (Marketeer at Xylos) and Mathias De Winter (Head Industrial Design at Bagaar) will take you through their key take-aways.

 From September 27th till September 30th, the tech event SuperNova took place in Antwerp: call it Tomorrowland for innovators, marketeers, researchers and digital creatives. A one-of-a-kind experience, there’s no doubt about that. But what were the most important lessons learned this year? Rachel Young (Marketeer at Xylos) and Mathias De Winter (Head Industrial Design at Bagaar) will take you through their key take-aways.

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Rachel Young - Marketeer at Xylos

As a marketeer I didn’t know what to expect. From discussions about the event with my peers, my expectations were high.

SuperNova was too big to experience everything. All the speakers, all the stands and all the sofa sessions: an overload of information. Very much what the American blogger and entrepreneur Seth Godin emphasized during his keynote. So after the event, I tried to make a generalization of the content I had seen. What were the commonalities that I could make? I managed to find two of them.

Sustainability

Both Aline Muylaert, the co-founder of CitizenLab, and Dutch politician Jan Peter Balkenende’s presentation’s focus was about the sustainability of our planet and making choices that are beneficial for everyone’s future. In all the ‘quick’ technologies and machines, we must build things that last.

Aline specifically mention guaranteeing inclusivity. We need to think about how minorities use digital technologies. Jan then also stressed the fact that we all have a common responsibility for a sustainable future. We’re building a circular economy where we recycle, reuse, share and develop sustainable growth models.

The event had also thought about the catering. All options were vegetarian, and delicious! The only oversight was all the plastic bottles and cups used at the event. Such a shame.

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People

Despite all the fuss about machine learning and the rise of technology, it was clear at SuperNova that the importance of people still plays a key role in all our digitalization. Technology investor Duco Sickinghe explained that the key success factor for a business is the team. Will the team weather the storm of change? On another keynote, Professor in Robotics, Bram Vanderborght, explained how robots and humans are interdependent.  

Mathias De Winter – Head Industrial Design at Bagaar

The emphasis on the importance of people and on how to proceed as an individual, to gain influence and joy while building the new society, was indeed very present during the keynotes.

That’s why we liked the interview on Friday, done by the American entrepreneur en co-founder of Twitter, Biz Stone. He teached us two important things:

"You should follow inspirational people, not money"

"If you want to be successful in a project or company, you should be emotionally attached."

It became an interesting talk about fake news, how social media can avoid this phenomenon and how they can be part of the greater journalistic debate.

There are just so many themes that are super interesting. And a lot of people are working on them with new technologies. Boy, the world is changing fast! We would have loved to have some extra days of keynote speakers.

 
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A broader vision for the future

I like the idea of an event that gives us an insight into the future. SuperNova was well organized: we were surrounded by good food, nice demonstrations and an impressive keynote arena. Beamers lit up the stage and projected on the floor. Several speakers were amazed to be walking over their slide decks for the first time.

But SuperNova should be a place to discover the future in general, not only the future of technology. And I felt there was a lack of a more global vision of the future on important topics such as global warming, migration and broader identity. This is important as we are all becoming more and more world citizens. Anna Rosling, daughter-in-law of Swedish professor Hans Rosling did touch on several interesting topics and technologies that will shape our world, socially and legally.

The communication and set-up of the tech fair was very traditional. To show the new way of working, they could have found something more innovative than the typical booth concept of selling companies a couple of square meters. Instead, they could have visualized the act of businesses globally working together in a connected world. Or they could have shown the links between technologies and what they can do to solve crucial issues happening in the world today.

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Despite this, it was a great experience. Thanks to the organizers for this wonderful event.

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