Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Hellerau - Where Art and Tech Dance Together

Yesterday the final presentation day of futureSAX - The Saxon Innovation Conference took place at the Festspielhaus Hellerau, an iconic building in the smallish suburb Hellerau on the edge of the globally known city of Dresden.

The area of what a little bit more than 100 years ago just heath land with scattered woods became an entrepreneurial and dance hotspot shortly after its founding as the first German "garden city" in 1909. The visionary entrepreneur, Karl Schmidt (link to "German History in Books and Images" by @GHIWashington), envisioned not only a new furniture production site but also a suburb where working, education and living would jointly go together in the most natural form (literally embedded into the landscape of that strip of land).

The prosperous business owner and his outstandingly new ideas attracted famous architects of the time to this new "venture" and furthermore pulled in artists like Emile Jaques-Dalcroze, a Swiss musical pedagogue, who finally became the initiator of creating the Festspielhaus Dresden to perform rhythmical gymnastics.

So it made more than sense to choose this location to showcase some of the amazing innovations, like startups scaling up and projects in the making, as well as established regional companies that have gone to take exponential technologies to transform there sometimes centuries-old business models. As 100 years earlier not only local and Saxon players, but also attendees from Berlin and other locations found their way to Hellerau. BTW, the location is most conveniently reachable via eMobility as a tram line (No. 8) operated by the local public transport corporation DVB AG has a stop ("Festspielhaus") nearby with a direct connection to downtown Dresden.

Saxony once again showed, that despite the edgy position within Germany, it has houses a high number of passionate and clever minds who are not just talking about shaping the future. They have dared to hand in their ideas, projects and startups putting their future on the "dance floor" where once Gret Palucca (and others) brought modern dance to the public.

To cut the story short, the prize ceremony has been banned on "digital tape" namely Facebook Live by technology passionate members of the SMWA_SN (Saxon State Ministry for Labour, Economics, and Infrastructure). Prior to the prize ceremony, a group of young dancers of the Tanzraum Dresden performed a wonderful that in some way resembled the struggles entre-/intra-/extrapreneurs face while working on their innovative ideas to see the bright light of success. It may take quite some time, not days, not a week, rather years or even decades.

Looking forward to the next edition of futureSAX in 2018 and the path there, rich of shaped serendipity encounters (here a short clip with John Hagel, co-chair of the Deloitte Center for the Edge on shaped serendipity) along the way.

Wrapping up on a day full of surprise encounters, meeting new and old friends one sentence captures what innovation is literally all about:

Innovation is like performing arts, you passionately have to stay with it through training, repetition until the idea becomes a reality. 

In short, the review on yesterday's experience will be captured what was coined #PresencingStatus back in the "early days" of occDD (Open Coffee Club Dresden, an idea we brought back from Boston back in 2009):
  1. Good - perfect location; dense, somewhat crowded place (enabling serendipity encounters); meeting friends from Berlin who are also in the #ExponentialTechnologies space; most inspiring conversations
  2. Tricky - 5 GHz WiFi networks may lead to connection problems (h/t to Hellerau's guest network that worked flawlessly over the whole time); noisy crowd during the pitches 
  3. Learned - Humble Inquiry (a concept Edgar H. Schein, Prof. Emer. of MIT Sloan School of Management with family roots also from Bad Schandau, Saxony as he writes in his autobiography "Becoming American"; "Are you at futureSAX in Hellerau today?") really led to a most surprising and rich conversation with someone who had not been aware of futureSAX 
  4. Action - Doing what we always do, weaving the various threads of information, events, and persons together into a bigger picture of Saxony that is truly more than what can often be read in the media outside Saxony  

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Grasping Beyond the Stars and Landing in Saxony

Space technology is not just since live streams of the relanding (CRS-11 Landing aerial view) of the Falcon 9 rocket, and several resupply missions to the ISS (International Space Station) made possible by the team around serial entrepreneur Elon Musk in the news. Planetary Resources, a bold start-up with the mission to mine Earth-near asteroids, co-founded by Peter H. Diamandis (he is also the co-founder of Singularity University, a visionary think tank with the mission to teach and empower leaders about the power of converging exponential technologies through various in-person and digital formats, whose chancellor Ray Kurzweil gave an outstanding keynote at the 4th Dresden Future Forum in 2010).

At first sight one would not expect Saxony, or more specifically Dresden, to play a significant role in this context. And yet, it does. More subtle through the person Prof. Hans Müller-Steinhagen, Rektor of the Technical University of Dresden (TU Dresden), who not only led the university to its current heights being one of 11 top universities in Germany with the "excellence status" in 2012. This even pulled in the interest of the New York Times which put a story up on this achievement in January 13, 2013

Dresden, once the home of the East German passenger plane industry in the late 50s and beginnings of the 60s, has transformed this legacy into being a viable part of the Airbus-family with the Elbe Flugzeugwerke EFW that is specializing transforming passenger aircrafts into freight liners. Even though situated on the edge of Germany, and even on the edge of the City of Dresden, there are many "hidden champions" in the aerospace industry (see the post "Engineered Serendipity Shaping the Future") and which can be found in the Cluster LRT Sachsen/Thüringen.

On top of this, the TU Dresden is home of the Institut für Luft- und Raumfahrttechnik, and one of the largest science communities in the field of Aeronautics in Germany, mainly at the former GDR Aerospace campus in Dresden-Johannstadt with international ties to ESA, NASA, and the International Space University (another startup by Peter H. Diamandis going back to late 80s when he and two buddies at the MIT founded it, now it has its permanent headquarters near Strasbourg, France).

Looking back five years in time when IEEE TTM (IEEE Time Technology Machine) took place right in the historic center of Dresden, SpaceX had just completed its first successful re-supply mission to the ISS (see "Boundaries Across Boundaries, Technologies, and Cultures") it makes perfect sense for another bold step. And it was there to come, not too unexpected as the curious observers of the developments would certainly confirm.

The DLR (German Aerospace Center) the national aeronautics and space research center the Federal Republic of Germany decided during its Senate Meeting end of June the establishment of seven DLR institutes across Germany. One of which is based in Dresden, at the TU Dresden, and it will focus on the "Research into the digitalisation of aviation"

making not only use of the excellent software industry base, the scientific research community, but also of the high-performance computing capabilities that the TU Dresden provides (and which other potential users are connected to such as the MPI-CBG which opened the Center for Systems Biology Dresden lately).

Today the inaugiration of the Institute of Software Methods for Product Virtualisation in Dresden has taken place and more about the event and first impressions, interviews, and statements are available through DLR's Twitter account through which the exciting news were announced on July 26, 2017,

and the specific hashtag #DLRdresden which has been in use since.

We congratulate all people, institutions, and companies who have made this amazing step possible, and with the #DLRdresden and its team most successful scaling into a prosperous and exciting future.