Last week I traveled to Berlin for Tech Open Air 2014 (#TOA14). A great event organized in a nice location in the city center. Having also a great weather, participants of the event could be inside the building listening to some insightful discussions, or outside in order to network with each other and exchange thoughts and ideas. After spending 2 days in Berlin, these are my top observations.
- Hardware is the new sexy.
Nowadays everybody is talking about hardware. Not necessarily high tech and science but hardware. Mixing software with hardware, creating cool devices that people will use, in parallel with their smartphones. Be it commercial electronics, small gadgets or sensors for developers, hardware is everywhere. In Berlin a new hardware startup (wannabe) can make its first steps relatively easily. In the city operates Fab Lab, a hackerspace providing all the necessary tools for someone to make the first steps and create functional prototypes. There you will be surrounded by other hardware hackers, exchange ideas and help each other. Berlin is also the home base of the newly launched hardware.co, the hardware accelerator of Berlin. This is not the typical business accelerator, as it only lasts less than 2 weeks, provides no investment and requires no equity. Still, it is a great first step towards commercializing a prototype. Last but not least, after 2 days in the event I saw that Hardware gets the attention nowadays. Big corporates are ready to move and support hardware startups and techies are giving more and more importance to hardware. This explains why most of the hardware events of #TOA14 were full of people.
- 3D printing is everywhere
“3D printing is here to stay and will change the world as we know it”. Many people have made this statement and probably it is true. The ability to easily create physical objects, sharing a lot of the characteristics of the digital world can have unlimited applications. Hackerspaces are fully equipped with 3D printers in various sizes, to help hackers create the new devices. But also while walking within #TOA one could see 3D printers all over the place. The one that caught our attention was a massive 3D printer with dimensions 1mX 1m X 1m, printing furniture as an example.
- A Lot of women in the tech scene
I have been hearing lately that we need more women in tech and in the startup scene. I even know that certain tech media are making whole campaigns on that matter. I am not aware of the exact numbers, but for sure the Berlin tech scene doesn’t seem to have any issue on that matter. The whole event was full of women. Some of them were members of the teams, others co-founders or founders. Still I did not meet any female developer, but on the other hand this also might be due to the fact that I was looking for hardware/high-tech startups and therefore paying less attention to traditional software companies.
- Berlin is an amazing city to live
Except from a developing startup scene, Berlin is the German capital and as such a great city to live. The city is multicultural and you hear English being spoken a lot. The city has great restaurants, numerous bars and many beautiful neighborhoods.