Unconvention 2017

The Unconvention 2017 was a significant event, which brought together young innovative Europeans as well as role-models and possible supporters for them: successful entrepreneurs, academics, investors, experts, etc.

This 5th edition of Unconvention was kept in Brussels and the concentration was firmly on, how the European startups can go global from Europe and how Europe is able to attract the best startups, talents and investments from all around the world. The topics of Unconvention 2017 were: artificial intelligence, smart cities, 4th industrial revolution and autonomous machines.

The agenda of the event included several future-focused experiences:

  • Sessions (about the topics mentioned above)
  • Policy session
  • InnoPitch
  • Virtual Reality Showcase
  • Networking Cocktail
  • EU Drone Awards and VIP Dinner
  • Venture forum

In addition of all this, Unconvention 2017 presented many amazing speakers with high-valued information, experiences and skills. All the speakers have achieved a lot in their careers and therefore they are able to give a lot for their listeners.

These speakers were:

  • Peter Hopwood: Presence and Public Speaking Coach and founder of Hopwood Communications.  
  • Tytus Cytowski: respected legal expert, an attorney and a founder of Cytowski & Partners (an international law firm which focuses on technology and venture capital transactions).
  • David Hoffman: Associate General Counsel and Global Privacy Officer at Intel Co.
  • Paul-Francois Fournier: Head of SEVP BPIfrance Innovation since 2013, committed to have the focus on tomorrow’s industries (IT, environment, healthcare).
  • Dirk Ahlborn: Founder and the CEO of JumpStarter Inc., and a serial entrepreneur with a large experience from almost every business elements.
  • Carol Lee: Partner at PwC in London where she leads technology, media and telecom valuation practise in the UK.
  • Isidro Laso: Head of Start-Up Europe – European Commission, Fellow at Cambridge University, Thought Leader of the United Nations and Lecturer at Polytechnic University of Madrid.
  • Peter van Kemseke: Senior Diplomat, Deputy of the Permanent Representation to the EU as well as Lecturer at KU Leuven.

Innogy S.E. – Gold partner Unconvention 2017

Innogy SE is a large European energy company. But it’s actually been split off from the even larger German energy company, RWE. RWE decided to separate its conventional energy business, centred on coal, gas and nuclear, from its renewables and sales business.

Double exposure of businessman and silhouette of wind turbine at sunsetInnogy SE is the renewables company that resulted from the split. It builds power plants that produce energy from renewables, and sells gas and electricity to consumers. For this reason, it’s widely seen as the “green” power company that grew out of RWE. However, it is also doing some quite surprising things in the tech startup and disruptive technology world which we’ll take a look at below.

The company’s investment strategy is very outward looking, with a lot of investment in renewables overseas, including the United States. For example, it is working to help California and some other states in the US, achieve zero emissions for new vehicles. It has set up a US subsidiary, eMobility, to do this.

Obviously, the future looks bright for the business, and in March 2018, Eon, the German utility giant, launched a bid to acquire the company. The eventual company structures being proposed, look as though they will even more clearly demarcate the renewables business, separating it from the remaining fossil fuels businesses. Talks on this continue.

Unafraid of Innovation

Many people think of large German companies as very conservative. But this is one company that welcomes new ideas. We’ve seen several examples of the company’s willingness to engage with new technologies.

To take one example, it has set up a network of charging stations for electric cars. OK, so that’s interesting and worthwhile, but it’s hardly revolutionary – until you hear that the whole thing is powered by blockchain and that payments will be managed using Ethereum. And that it’s the brainchild of an Innogy start-up called Share&Charge that is out to revolutionise and democratise the e-mobility market.

The customer will actually pay in euros, and the app will then use blockchain and Ethereum to record and manage the transactions. Blockchain smart contracts will be used to track and manage the business and administration side.

Innogy Innovation Hub Looking For Partners

This is one of the ideas that has been flowing out of the company’s Innovation Hub. The hub is actively looking for startups to partner with.

Two puzzle pieces

These can be start-ups that are just getting going, but have a great idea. Or they can be businesses that are up and trading, but need help and investment to scale up the business. In fact, the company is looking for new businesses in Europe that it can help to go global. So what kind of start-ups are they interested in?

The focus areas are:

– Decentralised business models based around blockchain, artificial intelligence or the Internet of Things
– Businesses that have ideas that deliver smart and connected services, in an innovative way
– Ideas that will use digital technology to disrupt the established world of energy supply
– Cyber ventures – businesses that are using disruptive new business models to do things differently in the world of computing and IT

All of this explains the company’s involvement as a gold partner in January’s 2017 Unconvention meeting.

Creative disruption encouraged

The meeting’s focus was how to help European startups to go global. Unconvention is a high-powered meeting place, both for the potential disruptors of the future, and for the established businesses and organisations that can help them launch worldwide. From smart cities, to women entrepreneurs, to workshops on design thinking, to prizes for best drone application, this was a brilliant synthesis of forward looking ideas and the people who can make them happen.

However, this isn’t just another conference – it’s on social media, runs lots of workshops, and has online webinars and blogs that people can sign up for during the year. This makes sense – the days of having to be physically present in order to find something out, are long gone. Unconvention has huge potential, because once innovators see firms, such as Innogy, getting involved, they’ll fight to get their new ideas seen and heard.