On May 9th and 10th, more than 5,000 of professionals gathered at the European Convention Center Luxembourg for the 8th edition of ICT Spring, where experts from all over the world discuss the latest digital, tech, space and FinTech. The rise of RegTech, the use of Blockchain, planetary defense and Space mining, the age of machines, cybersecurity and digital transformation of the entertainment industry were just some of the burning topics tackled during these two days of expertise and knowledge sharing.
From the advent of Blockchain to the added value of RegTech
Nicolas Mackel, CEO of Luxembourg for Finance, started the morning session focusing on the evolution of Fintech: "If we compare it with last year, Fintech has affined and matured. It's more concrete, a lot of models were developed. Luxembourg also matured in this area. Now the question is "What about the Brexit? This politic choice will affect Fintechs".
"The Diversity of Perspective: Rethinking The Movement of Money" was the topic addressed by Ghela Boskovich, Head of Fintech and Regtech Partnerships, Startupbootcamp Fintech. She started with a question: "Why are we so attached to the payments systems that are currently in place? We have to innovate and to stand out of the legacy system. There are different perspectives and FinTech professionals should be inspired by emerging markets or e-commerce giants. Apps like AliPay combine perfect integration with commerce, social and… payments. Diversity matters and we challenge every institution to make a change and not to be only based on legacy".
Harrie Vollaard, Head of Innovation and Fintech, Rabobank started his presentation with a metaphor. "Looking at innovation in the bank industry is like looking at stars in the sky, like a constellation. We try to improve the everyday experience with our products and services with our customers. The next challenge for Rabobank is related to Fintegration which is a new business model for the bank. In the world there are 12,000 FinTechs and we have to bring fragmented solutions together" concluded Harrie Vollaard. Marc P. Bernegger, Serial Web Entrepreneur and FinTech Investor shared his vision about the new FinTech capital and gave an analysis of FinTech hubs post-Brexit. "There are dozens of studies about global Fintech hubs and the results are different depending on the parameters and the area of FinTechs. To become a leading FinTech hub you have be in the right ecosystem with a good entrepreneurial mindset, and have an access to talent and capital".
Marc Stevens, CEO of OneLife & Luc Maquil, Co-founder of KYCTech, talked about the collaboration between their two companies, which worked on integrating the RegTech dynamic in its digitalization process. "RegTech is the next logical step in order to continue with our digital development. RegTech is the perfect addition in the finalization of our onboarding process. And working with a new start-up like KYCTech has enabled us to realize just how much RegTech could help our Compliance & Risk and Customer Services teams" explained Marc Stevens. Luc Maquil added: "It is a symbiotic approach based on efficient collaboration between Compliance & Risk teams and IT teams. With OneLife, we have found a visionary yet pragmatic partner, which works actively to implement its digital strategy by taking very practical steps" concluded Luc Maquil.
"Bringing digitalization to the next level"
The organizers then had to the pleasure to welcome Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel on stage. He focused on the future and the opportunities of digital for the Luxembourgish society.
"I don't give many tech talks, but tech is linked to society. It represents a big challenge for us. We need to be active in the future, and as a country, we shouldn't be afraid of tomorrow. Education offers new horizons for our children" added the Prime Minister, who highlight the fact that every child won't necessarily be an IT expert, but his government still has the objective to build a multicultural Luxembourg. "We are working on developing the digital area and we know the importance of digital skills to prepare the future and to bring the digitalization to the next level. In all political decisions we made, we integrate a digital reflex. We are all concerned, whether it is actors from the private or public sectors, and it is my political and social responsibility" concluded Xavier Bettel.
Following the Prime Minister's speech, the organizers welcomed Christian Karembeu (former French international football player and World Cup winner in 1998) and Viktor Huszar, CEO & co-founder of Teqball, on stage for a chat on football, technology and emotions. According to the former Real Madrid players, "digital and technology enhances the performance of athletes and allows fans to be more involved".
Building the industry 4.0: from cybersecurity to automation
Henri Isaac, Vice President of Digital Transformation, Paris-Dauphine University, took the stage for a presentation entitled "Should university turn into a digital platform not to become obsolete?". Mr. Isaac focused on the brand experience value chain, and described several new learning experiences, and ended his presentation by giving the audience the keys to redesigning the higher Ed value chain in the digital era, by offering on campus "maker" pedagogy, packaged services offers, by focusing on b2b relations and by promoting transdisciplinary and meta-skills.
On the cybersecurity topic, Martin Overton, EMEA Cyber Risk Specialist, AIG, shared first response examples, statistics and lessons with the participants of the Tech Summit. "Since introducing cyber liability insurance in 1999, we have helped thousands of companies and more than twenty million individuals respond to a cyberattack" highlighted Mr. Overton. In order to prevent themselves from cyber threats, insurance companies are working with customers to help them improve their security maturity via partner services, consultancy and learning from others' mistakes and failure. He concluded: "Know your crown jewels – identify and locate critical information assets and trade secrets".
"Research is for all of us, not just large companies. Disruption affects us all – large, smaller and very small companies, especially if you are in software" started Nicolas Buck, President, FEDIL, whose presentation focused on industry and research, and future growth opportunities. Mr. Buck then shared several study cases with the audience: Circuit Foil & LIST who collaborated on enhancing copper resistance to lightning, SnT & Seqvioa who built together the robo-compliance engine for the mutual fund industry, etc.
Paul Schockmel, Vice-President Strategy, Business Development and Marketing, IEE, gave a presentation entitled "Driving the New Auto Industry Paradigm" and stated: "Disruptive technology-driven trends, such as electrification, connectivity, autonomous driving and diverse mobility, are radically changing the mobility industry".
Reinventing oneself in a fast-paced digital and creative environment
Emmanuel Vivier, Co-founder of the HUB Institute and one of the world top "digital advertising & social media marketing" experts answered the following question: "Entertainment is changing, are you?". New digital players are reinventing entertainment. Through the Netflix Vista example, Emmanuel Vivier showed that video is everywhere among us. But he explained that TV has to fight back by trying to find new forms, new topics, and new way to interest the millennials because "ephemeral content is the new mainstream". Thanks to Instastory on Instagram, stories on Snapchat and Facebook’s stories, users generate content and anyone can create his own video and generate a massive audience. Emmanuel Vivier added: "Those platforms are really innovating. We need to be much more innovating to be in the fight. We need to use this data to make this experience much more interesting".
And what could be better than new digital technologies to tell stories by offering new experiences to customers? Bernard Michaux, associate at SAMS Film in Luxembourg, explained it through the examples of virtual reality and augmented reality, the two burning and trending topics of the moment. According to him, "if you have a good idea, technique won’t kill it". Today, augmented and virtual reality disturb all content. If they still use traditional media, companies need to adapt their advertising to be the most competitive. Companies have to be creative and over-reacting all the time and, of course, “create a true story to make difference”.
Mona El Isa, former star-trader at Goldman Sachs, CEO and Co-Founder of Melonport, a Blockchain software for asset management, presented "The Blockchain Promise". The idea is to take the Bitcoin concept and embedded an entire coding language in it called Solidity. According to Mona El Isa, Melonport is the premier investment management infrastructure for crypto. The Melon Protocol enables to set up a decentralized fund structure, manage your fund within the fund structure you have selected, build a track record and invest in other funds or allow others to invest in yours. Moreover, the Melon Protocol is cheap, efficient, easy to use and transparent.
This digital summit continued with Jean Rognetta, editorial director for Forbes France and contributor for Les Echos and Capital Finance. His conference talked about the key threats to journalism, which are digital transformation, audience fragmentation and horizontality, and displaced value. According to M. Rognetta, between fake news, displaced values and crisis of the newspaper, the media have to give a true journalist perspective. "The point is that not everything is bad. Many companies emerge and create politic network with quality content" concluded Jean Rognetta.
Peter-Frans Pauwels, co-founder of the well-known company Tomtom explained why and how we need technologies in our lives. He sees it as a regulator, rather than as a way of life. Especially for mobility, technologies represent a huge opportunity to improve our quality of life, our comfort and our security, as he said “comfort gives that time to drive more safety”.
Then, the Regional General Manager of Northern Europe of the famous tech company Uber, Jo Bertram exposed “How to reduce car ownership and increase mobility” thanks to digital technologies. She explained that the main issue is not the car itself, is the way we use it: individually. But they are already seeing proofs to individual car ownership begins to change. When people are given an affordable, reliable alternative they’re happy to take it. Ms. Bertram showed how traffic in big cities is complicated, bad for environment and a waste of time. But in a strange way, even in cities where common transports are well developed, as New-York or Paris, people continue to use their own car. But as Jo Bertram showed that sharing one's car represents many advantages: less CO² emission, less car accidents, and at least, it facilitates traffic in the city. These are the many reasons to adopt this new way of mobility.
Luxembourg at the center of the global space map
The organizers also had to honor the welcome Etienne Schneider, Minister of the Economy and Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of Luxembourg to discuss the recent space initiatives launched by the country. "We are determined to extend frontiers. Spaceresources.lu is the next step in the government's efforts to diversity and expend into the space sector" started Mr. Schneider, who wishes to consolidate the existing know-how and build new competencies in the space domain. A new legal framework for space resources will soon be discussed in parliament, and the government will launch a Cybersecurity competence center next October, making the country a dedicated spot and leading place to cybersecurity. A "New space industry conference" will also be organized in Luxembourg on November 12th, bringing together startups, space actors and tech innovators, making the country the heart for collaboration and innovation. The Minister also announced the launch of a Luxembourg Space Prize in collaboration with ESA, and the development of Space Agency and Space fund in the Grand-Duchy to help startups active in space mining and based on commercial activities.
"I grew up during the Apollo days, and thought we would already be on the Moon by now" started Gary L. Martin, Director of Partnerships at NASA Ames. In his presentation, he focused on the importance of partnerships for the NASA: "It allows to access capabilities under collaborative agreements, it expands our overall landscape of space activity, and it spurs innovation". The NASA partners with all kinds of organizations, as more people means more feedback, and also more innovation. The compelling opportunity of asteroids was then presented by Chris Lewicki, President & CEO, Planetary Resources. "With offices in Luxembourg and a growing team, 2017 will definitely be an exciting year for space mining. And it's not just about space exploration, but also about scientific enquiry. Space is actually a new way to do business, it creates a new economy composed of cities, transportation, energy and finance" explained M. Lewicki. According to him, with the announcement of spaceresources.lu, the country of Luxembourg put itself on the global space map.
He then joined Jean-Jacques Dordain, Advisor of spaceresources.lu, for a Q&A Session moderated by Clive Cookson. The former ESA Director explained that many space companies are now settling in Luxembourg and that the spaceresources.lu initiative is running and moving quick: "We made fantastic progress and the wall between Earth and Space is falling". Chris Lewicki also settled in Luxembourg for its R&D mentality and its ability to solve the key challenges to extract water from an asteroid and scale it. "Space resources are a benefit for Humanity" concluded Jean-Jacques Dordain.
Pete Worden, Chairman, Breakthrough Prize Foundation and former Director of NASA Ames Research Center then gave an inspiring presentation on the exploration of the nearby star systems. He presented the projects supported by the Breakthrough Initiatives: "Technology is coming along to the point we can seriously think about sending something to the nearest star to find evidence of civilization. We are now able to make things much smaller and can build a powerful laser light to actually send a starship to the nearest star".