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From 27-30 September, the first edition of SuperNova will take place in Antwerp and you can still book your early bird tickets until 30th of June. Behind the organization you have Scale-Ups.eu, Flanders DC and the Flemish Government. The goal: To prepare everyone for the world of tomorrow.
It’s time for a chat with Jurgen Ingels (Scale-Ups.eu) and Pascal Cools (Flanders DC).
The Future is Now
We must admit that Belgium has made some nice moves in the last couple of years when it comes to conferences for the technology industry. But a conference that profiles itself on an international scale is, according to the duo, something completely new.
“The Netherlands and Finland are just two examples of European countries that organize international conferences”, tells Ingels. “I believe that an event like this is needed to create an ecosystem of second generation entrepreneurs. In our country, there are too little scale-ups that can grow further, mainly for the reason that they cannot raise more than 100 million euros. Belgium is currently only counting 90 companies that raised more than 1 million euros, and that’s about it. Blaming this on the small size of country is naïve. I am a strong believer that it’s more about time reduction.” This is also the goal for Scale-Ups.eu: helping scale-ups to reduce time. “There’s no better way to do this than to put the Belgian ecosystem on the map with a large conference. And this is something we should not wait for too long. If we want our country to be prepared for the world of tomorrow, today is the time to act.,” adds Ingels.
According to Ingels, “If you want to prepare yourself for the world of tomorrow, you need to work smart with others.” Ingels believes that you will go faster when you’re alone, but together you’ll achieve more. And that’s why he decided to work together with Flanders DC. Managing Director Pascal Cools was immediately enthusiastic. “With the Creativity World Forum, we already had a big event, but we wanted to expand this.”, he tells us. “Because Jurgen wanted to set up the biggest scale-up event, we contacted him. And that’s how we decided to work together. For more impact, more technological innovation and more creativity. It’s useless that everyone organizes events on its own. With smart collaboration, you can achieve so much more – especially if you want to prepare yourself as a company or an individual for the world of tomorrow. This is also the message we want to give to the attendees: the future is now, so you better work together. “
For all of that, there’s no better location than Het Eilandje in Antwerp, according to Ingels and Cools. “We were looking for a spot that first of all has enough space”, says Cools. “Antwerp is also the City of Things, so for us, it made more than enough sense that the first SuperNova would take place there”.
Top Speakers, Talent and Demonstrations
Cools adds that “there’s no other event like SuperNova as the content is very broad and deep. The speakers prove that.” Ingels also confirms that “it doesn’t make a lot of sense to only put Flemish speakers at the stage who everyone already saw 10 times. Seth Godin (a famous entrepreneur and author), Biz Stone (co-founder Twitter), Ray Kurzweil (pioneer on the area of optical character recognition), Neil Harbisson (the first official human cyborg) are only some of the big names that will present at SuperNova.
“As for me, I’m very enthusiastic about Vivienne Ming.” says Cools. “No one really knows her, but she was nominated by Inc Magazine as one of the 10 top women in tech. And not without any reason: she was a transgender woman who was homeless for a long time, until she got her PhD and founded many companies in machine leaning. She created using her own technology an app for her son, a diabetic patient, that sends an automated message to take in medicine when an attack is predicted. I think this is genious. Also, it’s a hint that we need more women in tech. If you exclude that group, you’ll miss 50% of your potential. The fun thing is that the speakers are not only talking about digitalization as you often see at conferences. We believe that ‘the future is now’ vision covers it all. Biz Stone will talk for example about social media and other speeches will be about marketing technologies too.”
“Technology covers all fields,” says Ingels. He continues “SuperNova will demonstrate how the world will look like and what common areas it has. It must be a wake-up call for companies, but also for people to think differently and to evolve. It will all go faster and bigger than we think. Not everybody realizes that the way of working and living will change drastically. And that the rise of technology and automation will force people to specialize in certain fields.”
“That idea also translates itself to the public days on September 29 & 30, where we will have demonstrations about numerous themes”, spills Cools. From the new way of working, food, mobility and entertainment. People at SuperNova will be able to visit the supermarket of tomorrow. They can also see the first flying car. In total, we’re talking about more than 110 different demonstrations of more than 100 different companies and research institutions. Next to that, we’re also organizing at SuperNova, TalentBuzz. Companies from the industry can fill in their vacancies and meet potential new hires.”
“That’s also the essence of SuperNova: connecting people with each other”, adds Ingels. “Just like this, we can create a relevant ecosystem where everyone feels in place”.
Pitching To Top VCs
Ingels, who as an investor recently listened to pitching startups in the program ‘ De Leeuwenkuil’, is also enthusiastic about the chances for scale-ups at SuperNova. “We’re now busy with creating an exclusive ‘investor zone’ where we’ll bring together 50 European scale-ups and more than 200 VCs from across the world. And that’s where time reduction is translated into action. Scale-ups need funding to grow faster and to grow more internationally. And as ton of VCs are looking for the next funding opportunity, it’s a fantastic idea to combine both parties with each other. Belgian startups and scale-ups can build a network with relevant investors who they might never meet.”
“It’s without a doubt that startups and scale-ups play an important role in the innovations of the future”, adds Cools. “Because unfortunately, a lot of company leaders and also the general public are skeptical towards tech. That’s something we would like to take away. At the end, tech only brings in a lot of opportunities. But we need to embrace those opportunities and that’s something where SuperNova wants to facilitate in.”
“Everybody at the event can learn something: whether you’re a teenager, experienced executive or an early stage startup. In the future, SuperNova will be a breeding place for everything related to technology, and we’ll attract without any doubt visitors from across the globe. We’ll probably become the Tomorrowland for the tech industry!”