DLD Campus 2017

Cyborg meets high-tech spider man


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!”

Local celebrity

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.

More images & downloads

HuffPost-Editor with his interview partner Stefan Winners

Full house and a relaxed atmosphere: More than 500 participants attended the premiere of DLD Campus

Adidas football chief designer Sam Handy

Scheibel has succeeded in revealing the secret of spider threads for the first time

Spider threads are the most resilient fibers found in nature

Christian Teichmann of BurdaPrincipal Investments participated in a panel on growth investment

The Bavarian minister of state, Beate Merk, delivered a thrilling speech in favour of the economic region of Bavaria

The audience was thrilled about the panels

Close ranks at Stefan Winner's talk

CEO Stefan Winners talked about digital transformation

The participants enjoyed the sun in front of the main lecture hall

The head of Bayreuther Festspiele Katharina Wagner also dropped by

Focus features editor Gabi Czöppan has been friends with Jonathan Meese for years and thus took him onstage

Took a seat in the front row: The mother of Jonathan Meese

Artist Jonathan Meese was a popular interview partner

Impressions of DLD Campus

Many students and graduates from Bayreuth and the surrounding area came to DLD Campus

Uni meets virtual reality

Steffi Czerny in conversation with participants

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