Innovation Drift 2019: Vilnius attracted the world's leading innovators and turned into the capital of future innovations


2019 06 27

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On 13-14th of June, 2019, the biggest innovation event in the Baltic countries Vilnius Innovation Forum “Innovation Drift 2019” took place in the Lithuanian Exhibition and Congress Center Litexpo. For two days over 2,000 participants, 50 world-famous innovators, experts, innovation policy makers and practitioners gathered to get inspiration, share knowledge and get useful contacts in a strategic event.   

The Vilnius Innovation Forum has attracted some of the most prominent speakers and creators from global companies such as Tesla, NASA, SpaceX, Microsoft, Google, Porche, IBM, Euronews, Siemens Mobility, European Space Agency and others. The most influential forum speakers from Europe, Asia and the USA shared their thoughts and insights, how the world look like into the next 10 years, what are the future innovation trends.

“During the two-day forum Vilnius turned into the capital of future innovation, a venue of leaders from 20 countries around the world. I am glad that the forum creates practical value for speakers and participants, because a large attention was paid on networking. Furthermore, the Forum gives a clear message about Lithuania as innovative country on the international scale”, said  Kęstutis Šetkus, director of Lithuanian Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology Agency (MITA), the main organizer of “Innovation Drift 2019”.

The most prominent Lithuanian inventions and innovations were presented by the national universities, research centers and enterprises in the technology exhibition: talking robots, holograms, health care technologies, food innovations, smart virtual reality solutions for entertainment, aviation and other industries. Also, the networking event, creative workshops and B2B meetings were opened for all attendees.

Huge opportunities for space exploration

NASA's astronaut (ret.), professor of astronautical engineering at USC, senior advisor at SpaceX dr. Garrett Reisman received most of the attention from the forum participants. In his even 1.5 hours long speech he shared a personal story of being NASA's astronaut.

He participated in two space missions, spent in total even 107 days in space, from which staying 21 hours in open space. G. Reisman shared examples of daily work in this innovative organization, highlighting the opportunity to offer innovative ideas, try them out, and learn from mistakes quickly until the best results are achieved. “I am confident that in the next 10 years we will make more space ships and launch trips to space. It will no longer be the privilege of astronauts, each of us will be able to step into space”, - shared G. Reisman about future plans. According to him, the private sector as never before has a great potential for new testing.

The forum focused on the development of space technologies: Bernhard Hufenbach, a representative from European Space Agency, spoke about the possibilities for companies to participate in ESA initiatives. NASA trainees Julija Kravchenko, Gintare Plečkaitytė and Vladas Labanauskas encouraged Lithuanian students to participate in the prestigious NASA internship program, which is coordinated by MITA on national level.

Progress in the transport sector

Peter Bardenfelth-Hansen, who has 10 years of experience as working EMEA business development director in TESLA company, one of the most innovative electric cars and renewable energy producers in the world, shared his insights on the progress of the transport sector in the nearest future.

He managed to increase TESLA sales from 500 cars a year to over 150,000. “The world is changing fast, not only changing the need for mobility, but also focusing on sustainability. The car will no longer belong to a single owner - we will talk about sharing the same vehicle when it can be used by several owners, and maybe there will be no owners at all and this will be a shared car ”, - said Mr Bardenfelth-Hansen. He recommends to the Baltic States to think about the development of more effective infrastructure for electric vehicles.

AI application: from media to medicine

Michael Peters, Managing Director of EURONEWS, one of the largest broadcasters in Europe, talked about the need for personal news. Nowadays, when the flow of information is infinite, there is a need to focus on one area and get more focused news. "Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already being used to offer each user a dedicated news feed. AI analyzes the consumer's behavior on the website and offers daily tailored news that focuses on the most relevant area for the consumer - whether it is business, sport or culture,“ - said Mr Peters.

Director of Lithuanian State Pathology Center prof. Arvydas Laurinavičius gave examples of how digitization and automation are applied in practice: “The pathology area is based on images, pathologists analyze the damaged tissue or tumor through a microscope and draw conclusions according to the visible image. At present, AI processes a lot more images in a shorter time and determines the diagnosis with 99% accuracy according to images”.

Microsoft's AI Marketing Manager Dmitry Turchyn has revealed the company's approach to how AI can empower people, the state, and corporations today and in the future: "There are endless possibilities for using AI, but it can also be exploited not necessarily for good purposes. We take the view that technology companies and leaders in this field should define the core principles of AI, which should be based on security, openness and privacy”.

On the digitalization threshold

Professor Henrik Scharfe, who created his twin robot, discussed in the report that we currently are at the crossroads of important digital changes. The data-driven economy will change people's thinking, way of life, work and leisure, and for these changes we need to be prepared now. He talked about the challenges of robotization and digitalization in the future: “Nowadays, we can hardly imagine our everyday life without robots, but most often it is data analysis machines. My ambition is geminoids - human-like robots that could help us a lot, perhaps, for example, to follow fairy tales for kids in kindergartens.” When asked whether robots could change people at all, Mr Scharfe replied: "The robot is different from human with a unique ability to think and feel emotions. Robots can analyze and provide answers, but human thinking can lead to unimaginable distance that encourages progress. A person likes to reason and, of course, all of us strive for a human relationship”. During “Innovation Drift 2019” prof. H. Scharfe met with Lithuanian robot creator prof. Laimutis Telksnys.

Impressive future medical achievements

The speakers at „Innovation Drift 2019“ conference predicted that in the future physicians will be able to determine, with the accuracy of 100 %, the chances of surviving cancer, that nanoparticles carry immune and stem cells under the bloodstream,  and surgeon- robots will be controlled by the doctors spending time on vacations in the yacht.

“Today, doctors are able to print 3D organ models and they are learning to perform operations. The skull implants with polymers are being created. The liver cells are printed to test the drugs with them. Soft fabrics, leather, dentures are all part of the 3D medical market”, - said Danish scientist Martin B. Jensen at the forum.

Jeroen Verheyen, a researcher at Cambridge University, talked about investing in the development of new medicines. “The return is very low and is currently only 2%. Almost all companies are interested in oncology and want to share the same piece of cake. Profitability of small companies is higher, startups are beeing developed. Half of the revenue comes from biotechnology companies acquired by the dominant pharmaceutical companies”, - explained the scientist. According to him, cooperation between universities, pharmacists and start-ups in this area has to be strengthened.

The world-famous embryologist, reproductive technology expert from Ukraine dr. Valery Zukin, who has helped the world see a healthy baby with three different people's DNA, gave a speech in „Innovation Drift 2019“ too.

Disruptive technologies -  the driving future force

One of the disruptive technologies - quantum computers and their applicability and availability - was widely spoken by IBM's Q Ambassador to Poland Piotr Biskupski. IBM has always been among the leaders in quantum computing and announced the creation of as many as 50 cubic quantum computers in 2017.

P. Biskupski said that now the principle of using a quantum computer is similar to a mainframe, and on this principle, a computer has already made calculations for more than one research. One of the key areas for which the quantum computing power is crucial for progress is machine learning and artificial intelligence and quantum chemistry. "The problems solved by the quantum computer are completely different from those of the classic computer. For such a simulation, it is very important that it is not limited to units and zeros, but could also include a random element. The quantum computer does not intend to replace the classic, because it performs mathematical tasks that are well suited to it. Therefore, it is likely that we will see hybrid variants in the future, where these systems will be able to complement each other perfectly”, - predicts dr. P. Biskupski.

The value of collaboration

„Innovation Drift 2019“ has provided an exceptional opportunity to establish direct contacts. More than 60 of our country's economic diplomats in 41 countries and 3 international organizations visited the Vilnius Innovation Forum, where they met with companies interested in export opportunities. More than 40 B2B meetings with diplomats, innovation experts, investors were organized, also the bilateral meetings between representatives of the Lithuanian and Latvian Ministries of Economy took place, in the innovation and technology workshop the practical advices were provided to participants.

The fourth innovation forum „Innovation Drift 2019“ was organized by the Lithuanian Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology (MITA) together with the Ministry of Economy and Innovation of the Republic of Lithuania. The event is financed by the European Regional Development Fund.

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