UKA is one of Norway’s biggest cultural festival and primarily run by volunteering students in Trondheim. For the first time, an event dedicated to innovation was incorporated in the festival program: UKA Technology Conference.
The theme of the conference was “Innovation for a Sustainable Future”. The impact UKA has on students and the city of Trondheim is remarkable. The festival has been arranged since 1917. It serves as a unique meeting place for the visitors and the 1700 volunteering students.
Engage is pleased to see that UKA puts a spotlight on the need of innovation for the better. The conference was a six hour long event, starting from 12 o’clock on the 16th of October. It found place in UKAs great concert tent, in which artists such as Jay-Z and Calvin Harris has put on unforgettable shows. A number of inspirational speakers had been invited to the event.
The future is already here
One of the big buzzwords of 2017 is blockchain. Co-founder of the company Blockchangers, Oskar Åslund, addressed blockchain technology as one solution to many of UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
– A real rockstar scene, called Åslund from the stage during his talk.
The conference started off with talks devoted to artificial intelligence and the edtech revolution. For this purpose, senior manager in Accenture Artificial Intelligence, Rumman Chowdhury, had been flown in from San Francisco. The use of artificial intelligence in the media industry and the transport industry was introduced by representatives from Aftenposten and NSB, respectively. The speakers held a high standard and were indeed successful in convincing that “the future is already here”.
The headliner for the conference was the co-founder and CEO of Kickstarter, Yancey Strickler. He gave an inspirational talk about the philosophy of Kickstarter. Strickler included advice and guidance to aspiring entrepreneurs in his presentation. Hopefully, his encouragement to be courageous and different can guide the students to take the right innovative paths. The questions Strickler received after his talk showed real enthusiasm in the audience.
Enthusiasm was indeed also present in the pitch competition. Prior to the event, students had been urged to apply for participation in a pitch competition. The prize at stake was 25 000 kroner. The competition was in collaboration with Spark NTNU, one of the partners of Engage.
Four finalists had been picked out and mentored by Spark in order to give the best possible pitch. The mentoring from Spark certainly paid off, as all the finalists represented themselves impressively on the stage.
The range of the four ideas was wide. NårgeSol wants to make renewable energy more accessible with curtains of solar panels. Workzilla pitched the idea of a platform for reserving work spaces at bars and cafes. Arveng Technologies aims at developing more intuitive ways to control machines, starting off with a glove to control a drone. The winner of the competition was EasyIntervals. EasyIntervals wants to give you the aids for achieving more efficient interval training.
An event such as UKA Technology Conference is of great value to student startups. COO and pitcher for Arveng Technologies, Moina Medbøe Tamuly, told us about what it is like behind the scenes.
– I heard about this event through my contacts in Spark. The preparation for the pitch through Spark has been really good. We are using this event to give ourselves some publicity, by posting our attendance here on social media and offering a live stream. The conference is a nice opportunity to present oneself to the world, said Tamuly.
It is indisputable that the pitchers got to show themselves off at UKA Technology Conference. In addition to the great stage, the event included an exhibition area for technology companies, student organizations and startups. This gave rise to a constant flow of people visiting the event throughout the day.
Ascend NTNU is a student organization within the field of aerial robotics. They showed off one of their drones in the exhibition area.
– There are many cool exhibitors here, and the organization of the event is good. There is sort of an “hyped” atmosphere, proclaimed Kim Borgen, a student from Ascend NTNU.
Big companies such as Statoil, Accenture and TrønderEnergi were also present. A representative from TrønderEnergi addressed the location of the conference as a great asset.
– Think about the potential of having a technology conference only 100 metres from the 10 000 students at Gløshaugen. For everyone promoting technology, it is of great interest to come that close to the students, said senior project leader Bernhard Kvaal from TrønderEnergi.
Hopefully, the location of the conference will help UKA Technology Conference become a lasting tradition. Let this year’s conference be the first of many! If you want to read more about the event and the different speakers and exhibitors, you can check out the event page here.