On the 20th and 21st of October Hamburg was marked by the "IT-Gipfel" - the annual German IT-Summit - the event for leading politics and industry players to talk about the upcoming challenges and opportunities in IT. This year the event was supposed to be younger than ever. Beforehand a few hundred startups have been invited. This years slogan „Young IT meets Industry“ raised some serious attention among the young and wild entrepreneurs. As winner of the EIT ICT Labs Idea Challenge I got the chance to mingle with the „Who is Who“ in politics and industry - as one of a few selected startups.
The endeavor started on Monday at Emporio where young and established entrepreneurs were supposed to network. A few Hamburg startups showed up and joined the crowd of approx. 150 guests. A great view over sunny Hamburg provided lots of inspiration. For me as a representative of the German start-up scene this day provided a good opportunity to talk about what start-ups need in order to get our innovations off the ground and our companies running. This was also an event where successful collaborations of start-ups and industry leaders were presented, like the Tinnitracks-Sennheiser collaboration. A good opportunity for networking with start-ups, executives of large cooperations and initiatives - like the EIT ICT Labs or the IKT innovativ competition - while having a splendid view of Hamburg in the Emporio tower. However, my time was cut short by some serious media attention and a full desk at the office - being an entrepreneur and running a young startup is a full-time job.
Despite all the urgent emails I decided to enjoy IT-Gipfel the fullest and made my way through rain and wind to Edelfettwerk. The cool event location hosted the IT-Gipfel networking dinner event. Free food, free drinks and a nice crowd - as a young entrepreneur looking for partners and support you never say no to opportunities like this. Behind a wall of back-dressed security guards the party was in full swing already. On the left corner Karl-Heinz Streibich, CEO from Software AG, was chatting, Brigitte Zypries was networking on the right side of the room and in between - me. Thomas de Maizière, Federal Minister of Interior, even remanked my food! After a few drinks work was calling again. So I rushed home to take of some emails and prepare for next day, which started with a TV interview at Hamburg 1 Frühcafe on my expectation for the day with Angela Merkel. So I got up early to be right on time for the big TV talk - and I dressed up.
IT-Summit is a formal event, where the big players are discussing mayor topics like industry 4.0 or net neutrality and thus is shows more the direction where the politics and industry leaders are heading to. Again, I was impressed by the number of German ministers - I counted five of them plus Angela Merkel - and the top executives of the leading German IT companies. Security has been tight - but got even tighter when Angela Merkel showed up around lunch time. People were rushing to set up photo opportunities and talk to potential partners - in between again me. At 3 pm - more or less drained out by all the activities and a cold I have been fighting for days, i headed home - again to my desk and my inbox full of emails.
My resume from IT-Gipfel: It is nice to play with the big players - but the work of an entrepreneur never stops. It is also great that events like this raise the awareness for the needs of startups like Tinnitracks. We generated some great media coverage triggered by IT-Gipfel in RTL, SAT1 and NDR (starting 4:10). Would I attend again? Yes, if I am invited to the next IT-Gipfel that will be held 2015 in Berlin - another good spot to establish the young-IT-Day as a kind of start-up/innovation-day.