Tech Open Air Berlin – Day One

Now, many of you will have no idea what TOA is. Well, in simple terms, it could be considered the SXSW (South By South West) of Europe. But that would be selling it short.

At Equator, we’re always challenging ourselves to stay ahead of the curve of technology and digital. As I am sure you all know, this is a relentless task which requires constant research, endless consumption of information and, importantly, a desire to always be testing new things. After all, that is why I am in the role of Director of Innovation and why we have an Innovation function in the first place.

And, it is with that spirit of experimentation and learning that myself and Stephen, our Art Director and Innovator are at Tech Open Air in Berlin.

Now, many of you will have no idea what TOA is. Well, in simple terms, it could be considered the SXSW (South By South West) of Europe. But that would be selling it short.

TOA is a 3 day multidisciplinary tech festival which takes place mostly within the bounds of a redundant factory in the south east of Berlin. It is given the title “open air” because a large portion of these grounds is put over to outside events, with many talks, panels and expos taking place in the outdoors. The combination of these two factors makes the event feel very open and the ramshackle nature of the building and its grounds gives everything a relaxed air. You can see in the pictures that this place really is falling to bits!

But it’s the content and the community which makes this place buzz more than anything. For a smallish tech conference, this event really punches above its weight, pulling in big-hitting speakers from the likes of the CEO of TechCrunch to the man Elon Musk has put in charge of his ambitious Hyperloop scheme. Alongside these, we also come across a wide range of European digital startups, smart tech entrepreneurs and those from the smarter end of Europe’s public sector.

In the first day alone, we learned of a UK-based business who aims to revolutionise the world of medicine and end global pandemics with their smartphone DNA reader. We heard from security experts from Israel and the German military discuss the current state of cyber-security. And we got to speak to fintech startups from across Europe who are out to disrupt banking with their new digital banks and revolutionary payment systems.

Whilst you may argue that is an oddly diverse mix of content, this is where TOA is no different to SXSW. The content is mixed, presented in a number of different formats and serves mainly to challenge your own thinking and for you to make of the stories and ideas what you will. Day two beckons and I expect it to be no different. But I hope to end the day thinking differently and armed with more ideas and innovations that we can take back to Glasgow to inspire our teams and clients with.

For more updates from this year's TOA festival, and everything digital, check out our Equator blog here.