Events - 21.03.2019 - 00:00 

START Summit 2019: Opening Panel

3000 founders, investors, students and experts gathered in St.Gallen on Wednesday morning for the two-day START Summit 2019. HSG President Thomas Bieger and City President Thomas Scheitlin greeted participants as they arrived. One of the first podium events was dedicated to the opportunities and dangers of Big Data.

21 May 2019. Sophie Bree, Managing Director of START Summit, and Deborah Grace Dörig, President of START Global, kicked off the event together. In the crowded hall before the main stage, they explained that the young generation in our part of the planet have been born into a fantastic world. Nevertheless, they said, there are countless questions that urgently need answering and it is thus imperative to take control of the future. They went on to say that the START Summit wants to make a contribution to this by bringing together founders, investors, students and experts to discuss promising innovations. In recent years, the event has developed into Europe’s leading student-organised conference for entrepreneurship and technology.

City and University support START Summit

HSG President Thomas Bieger congratulated the organisational team on the success of the START Summit, telling them that the University of St.Gallen is proud of its students’ great commitment. The event reflects the HSG’s great commitment to networking entrepreneurship, science and students, he said.

City President Thomas Scheitlin emphasised the aptness of the conference being held St.Gallen, as the city wants to take on a leading role in the field of smart cities; it was the first Swiss city to appoint a Chief Digital Officer, for example. In addition, he continued, St.Gallen also presides over an open data platform with freely accessible data and a participation platform for the involvement of the population and companies. He went on to say that the city of St.Gallen is very interested in new innovative companies and that they can count on the active support of the city’s economic development department.

The dangers and opportunities of Big Data

One of the first podium discussions at the START Summit was titled “Big Data, Big Problems. The Opportunities and Challenges of Big Data in the Near future”. On the podium were Karin Hilton, Senior Director of Elsevier, Christiane Lehrer, Assistant Professor at the University of St.Gallen, and Viktor Leuenberger, Head of Digital Business Services at SAP Switzerland. Alexander Stoeckel, partner of the venture capital company b-to-v, moderated the event.

All three panellists emphasised that big data had become an integral part of their field of work. They said that those who do not make use of the knowledge contained in these large amounts of data will no longer be able to stand out from the competition in the future. However, they also stressed that a well thought-out value creation strategy is required to harness the potential of Big Data.

They likewise discussed the struggle to find experts. Demands on this professional group are relatively high, they said, since data scientists must have technical understanding, IT knowledge, the ability to think associatively and a comprehensive understanding of business processes. “Today, nothing is possible without technical understanding. This goes for all industries”, explained Karin Hilton. Christine Lehrer underscored that the University of St.Gallen was offering corresponding courses to interested students.

Solutions for data protection are in demand

Viktor Leuenberger pointed out that Big Data is clearly a threat to privacy if the processed data is not anonymised or not anonymised sufficiently. He said that effective new directives are required in this area, and that companies who can offer innovative solutions in the field of cyber security are in demand.

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