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  • Writer's pictureNancy Nemes

Innowave Summit 2018 - Impressions

Updated: Feb 6, 2019

By Nancy Nemes - Founder Ms. AI

On October 19, I was invited to speak at the Innowave Summit in Varna, Bulgaria. Dimitar Vasilev, founding partner of the Bulgaria Business Forum, and his team did a spectacular job of content, speakers, attendance and logistics. Even more spectacular considering this is just the second edition of the conference.

After going to countless events and conferences, some with attendance up to 200,000 people (CES, MWC, or Cebit) I realize that today, I prefer the smaller scale events, and if in smaller cities, then even better. Well there were over 1000 attendees at Innowave Summit as far as I can tell... And while there is a lot about the excitement of the big, this earlier stage experience is boosting my adrenaline just like working for a start up - it feels good to help things and people grow. Varna in particular impressed me - clean, beautiful, warm.

Here are my key takeaways from the conference:

1. The EU is truly serious about Digitization. This conference happens during the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and was held in partnership with the Municipality of Varna (which is one of the new 30 digital hubs in Europe) and with the support of the Ministry of Economy of Bulgaria, European Startup Network and Startup Europe (European Commission Initiative). The EU Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel attended and spoke here – this is the second time I see her in Bulgaria this year (the first time was at WEBIT in Sofia back in June). I love her vision, smarts, energy and popularity. EU made a good choice appointing her and we need (a lot!) more role models like Mariya.

2. The focus at #innowavesummit2018 was on digitalization of business and public sectors and on innovations in Marketing, Sales, and E-Commerce. And this came through in all speeches that I've seen. Some of the top speakers I personally say (in between my own speeches and press interviews) and who cross-pollinated excellent ideas were Fahim Kibria - CMO at Kotler Impact Inc - the guy who is marketing a marketing guru (Philip Kotler), Ian Moyse of Natterbox - who gave a tour de force on How to address the changing buyer, the incredible Denis Rothman – a veteran of AI with a huge sense of humor and some of the best stories, author of AI By Example, Björn Weigel – a Swedish Author who co-authored a highly intriguing book called The Innovation Illusion on what hinders future prosperity and how to address the current decline (on my reading list for November!!), Norman Winarsky – the creator of Siri who was touching on the next AI breakthroughs, or Miroslav Dimitrov of SAP, who was touching on AI for Business. Ok, true – we need more female speakers!

3. Artificial Intelligence is everywhere. Of course. Not only as the hot topic of panels and speeches, but embedded in smart devices such as the Orcam MyEye, an artificial vision assistant for visually impaired people, with facial recognition and a voice control embedded. Or the smart coat stand called “Sense” with 5 sensors built in making it an intelligent measuring station for air pollution, temperature, air humidity, strength of noise and strength of illumination. All built into the furniture, as opposed to stand alone device. Mihael Vyrbanov did the demo for me – he was wearing a beautiful Bulgarian folkloric shirt. A nice touch!

4. Starting the conference with a panel on #womenintech as opposed to ending the day with it... truly great & I enjoyed sharing the stage with EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, Arta Shehu Zaimi and Anelia Pergoot. Moderation by Justine Tom. Topics: women's progress in high tech, and women's access to capital.

5. As part of my talk on Diginauts and Connected Life in the 21st Century, I’ve introduced Ms. AI to this audience – for the first time in a public setting. I was impressed with the feedback and level of interest – great impulses to progress this initiative so we can make our world more diverse and beautiful!

6. Seagulls are everywhere, they visited me a few times on my hotel room balcony and on the terrace at breakfast 😀

Overall, a great exchange with many interesting people and a lot of interest for Ms. AI – thanks Dimitar and team - this was FUN!

Seagull in Varna, Oct 19, 2018

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