What a day! Here's what happened on Day One at Technoport 2015.
Dilek Ayhan, State Secretary at the Ministry of Trade, Industry & Fisheries set the scene by talking up Trondheim’s position as the technology capital of Norway:
“The city has a bundle of companies creating a centre of innovation. a solid environment for financing and investment. Every time i visit Trondheim I am impressed with the creativity and the knowledge and the winning culture developed in this city."
She also focused the room on the impending challenge facing the Norwegian economy:
“For an economy where 70% of its exports are oil related, the crash in oil price had a critical effect. The Norwegian economy faces a tough restructuring in the coming decades. The foundation of our economy needs to be broadened. Entreprenuerial skills must be included in the schools from an early age."
Serial entrepreneur Nolan Bushnell told us the lessons from his lifetime of experiences, from when he employed Steve Jobs before Apple had been conceived, to starting the Chuck E Cheese's chain of family pizza restaurants in the USA. He introduced us to the “dice game” concept of removing self-doubt from decision-making that he’s used to great effect over the past few years. He also looked forward, in particular at the prospect of self-driving car radically changing not only the way we drive, but the way we live:
“There’s going to be a whole bunch of people who know to deal with sensors and technology. There will be so many jobs and companies come up around new businesses, like auto-drive taxis and auto-drive fast food delivery."
“Look for intensity when finding successful people. Quality of mind and quality of intensity matters. People don’t how how hard Steve Jobs actally worked."
Angela Lamont explained why the innovative Lunar Mission One space exploration project turned to crowdfunding, and the unexpected benefits in doing so:
"Crowdfunding is nothing new. In the UK the great exhibition of 1851 was in fact a crowd funded project. The Crystal Palace in London was built with NOK 340bn (adjusted to today’s prices) of donations.
For us, some radical action was needed when official funding channels dried up, so we had to change to a more entrepreneurial state of mind. We discussed alternative sources of funding including crowdfunding. We looked at it and saw people could make films and sell products but could you launch a big serious space project on Kickstarter?"
The answer was a resounding yes. None other than Stephen Hawking himself said of Lunar Mission One: "lunar mission one has the potential to rekindle our wonder"
Attention swiftly turned to how adopting the entrepreneurial mindset can help to save the world, or at the very least solve some of the world's biggest problems.
Pascal Finette from Singularity University's Startup Lab identified that there are 3 billion people in the world living on less than $2.50 a day, whereas the cheapest drink in Starbucks costs more than that. He then gave us a vision of the future using technologies including nanotechnology, biotechnology and robotics, many of which are up and running today:
"The future is ours. I'm not aiming to dazzle you with all this crazy stuff, I’m showing you because it's already here today, and you need to be ready for it. the technologies are exponential. most important message is that all this is possible, we can change the world we are living in and make it a better place."
With that vision of the future inspiring, and perhaps even scaring us, Anne Kjær Richert explained how her work at the Berlin Peace Innovation Lab brings together technologists, politicians, startups, academia, investors, and business consultants twice per month to meet and discuss ways to collaborate.
"The mindset for a social entrepreneur is a special kind of mindset. Triple bottom line thinking is crucial. Unfortunately a lot of time social entrepreneurs are so keen to make an impact that we forget the financial viability of what we are doing. The biggest challenge faced by social entrepreneurs is getting this balance right."
Steffen Wellinger from Trondheim's NTNU introduced us to the NTNU Live Studio, a student-led initative that allows them to spend time on projects outside of the academic environment. Two inspiring projects sparked a great discussion in the Q&A that followed: the town cabin in Rjukan and a bus shelter combined with watchtower in a Phillipines town hit by the typhoon.
"We should reform the university education so every student has the mindset of sharing."
Steffen finished his session by posing the question: will the equation Peace + Love + Entrepeneurship save the world?
Paul Iske started his presentation with ironically calling himself CFO – saying, “This means the Chief Failure Officer.” The founder of the institute of Brilliant Failures and Fear Reduction talked about the acceptance for failing as an inevitable part of innovation and processes.
According to Iske we most often work in a complex environment where we overlook side effects, we don’t know long-term consequences, and we don’t understand all interdependencies. That is why things don’t work out the way we expected, and why we cannot always be in control.
So, what do we need to be successful?
“This asks for agility and resilience. Agility means that you can see and understand what is happening and then be able to act, an intellectual acuity. Some people see a lot of things but don´t do anything, and that is a waste. Other people do a lot of stuff, and they don´t know anything, and that is dangerous. The other aspect is resilience. This means to be good at the moment where things become though.”
Samantha Quist, the Executive Director of Technovation, a global technology competition that challenges girls to create mobile apps that solve problems in their communities, highlighted some of the valuable lessons she learned on her journey on becoming a entrepreneur:
"Numbers shows that 90% of tech businesses fail, so yes, people who pursue entrepreneurship might be a little crazy."
"Every single day I was spending starring and validating my list was another day wasted on actually starting on my project. It is better to learn by doing, and quick decisions are usually better than right ones.”
Tobias Stone, is the co-founder of EyeFocus Accelerator in Berlin, the world´s first accelerator for startups focused on eye-care. He talked about the worldwide accelerators, relevant for startups with a worldwide market. Stone looked at this and wanted to test some ideas:
“That a very focused accelerator could provide better support for startups than a general one, and that an accelerator could be used as a tool to build an ecosystem.”
“The value lies somewhere beyond just equity in startups, and the real value lies in creating the ecosystem for the stakeholder in that ecosystem. Some of the success is because of the focus on ecosystem, and not equity, creating associate status, being focused, and being very open to everyone without having any boundaries.”
For a change of pace, our host Leo Johnson coordinated a fireside chat about the intersection of art, technology and innovation. Artist Koyo Kouoh, Gamer turned clinical psychologist Gaute Godager, and Little Sun Founder Frederik Ottesen joined our keynote speaker Nolan Bushnell to explore if and how the entrepreneurial mindset differs in other industries.
The conversation soon turned to what entrepreneurs can learn from artists, such as having a safe space to create and thinking about new perspectives on existing things, rather than constantly striving to create something new.
To all our speakers, participants and volunteers for making Day One such a success. Stay tuned for more, and check out our Live Streams if you're not lucky enough to be here. You can also follow the conference on Twitter using the hashtag #technoport15