While the IAA premiered in the Bavarian capital Munich, around 200 invited guests gathered at the BMW World, to discuss one of the most pressing topics of our time: sustainability.
Drones whooshing through the air, a never-ending stream of politicians and economic leaders and a cyborg captivating the audience: For the DLD Campus première in Bayreuth, Europe’s most successful innovation conference headed to the place where the future is formed – university.
“Let’s discuss ideas. Be curious. Fearlessly remove our blinkers”, DLD founder Steffi Czerny called to the students in the main lecture hall. In their opening speech, Czerny and Stefan Leible, President of the University of Bayreuth, readied the around 550 participants for a diverse programme.
Colours flashing in your brain
As 33-year-old Brit Neil Harbisson took to the stage, there was a moment of awestruck silence when the audience saw the antenna firmly embedded in his head that protrudes from his skull and transforms him into a cyborg. Harbisson is completely colour-blind, and developed a sensor that permanently converts colours into sounds and transmits them to his cranial bone.
If he directs his antenna at something blue, he hears a buzzing in his head – the more colours he sees, the more sounds are poured into his brain. For him, it sounds like music.
Turning a supermarket into a techno club
“When I walk through a supermarket and see all the bright colours, it’s like having a techno club in my head. The cleaning product section sounds the best. The colours are really shrill”, he said, giving the audience a little taster of his audio world.
Business meets up-and-coming talent
In addition to fascinating presentations, the DLD Campus also provided attendees with tangible career tips. Stefan Winners, Board Member at Hubert Burda Media, gave the students the following advice:
“Mathematical and technical subjects help to sort your brain and develop your analytical thinking. Great social skills are also important. Without good communication, it’s hard to be successful. And you should be at ease with yourself so that you can make the right decisions under pressure. Today, these abilities are an indispensable part of success.”
Stefan Winners, CEO at Hubert Burda Media
High-tech spider man creates fashion
Spider threads are nature’s most durable fibres, elastic like rubber but five times more tear-proof than steel. Spider silk also helps wounds to heal. Thomas Scheibel’s team at the University of Bayreuth has uncovered the secret of spider threads for the first time.
This biotech material is already being used in sports shoes. Scheibel visited DLD Campus with Sam Handy (Adidas) to discuss the opportunities presented by this wonder material and its potential for the future.
Bavaria: an innovation hub
Bavarian State Minister Beate Merk made a case for Bavaria as an innovation hub: “We want the digital revolution to create job opportunities in Bavaria and we want to bring these jobs to Bavaria. To do this, we need the passion of our researchers and specialists, the passion of our entrepreneurs and networkers, the passion of the students who are embarking on their careers and have every opportunity in the world – something we all envy greatly!”
Katharina Wagner, a director and the great-great-granddaughter of the famed composer Richard Wagner, joined Gisbert Rühl (Klöckner) and Steffi Czerny to discuss the future of the music industry in the digital transformation.
Back in Bayreuth
Wagner’s Parsifal, from the opera of the same name, was always the great hero of artist Jonathan Meese, whose controversial theories met with thunderous applause at DLD Campus. Meese’s appearance in Bayreuth was something of a comeback; in 2016, he was set to stage “Parsifal” at the Bayreuther Festspiele festival.
However, feeling that the organisers were restricting his artistic freedom, he left Bayreuth and staged the opera in Vienna, setting it on the moon “to free it from religious and political references.”
Between the panel sessions, participants soaked up the sun on the university terrace, restored their strength at the many food trucks and used the time to network at stands for companies such as Deutsche Börse and “Germany, Land of Ideas”. Recruiting staff networked with the talented youngsters in the Burda lounge and discussed entry-level opportunities over ice cream.