Q&Amp;A With Startup Expert, Maren Lesche – Data Natives Tel Aviv 2016Maren Lesche is the Communications Manger and Startup Expert at the European Innovation Hub, a Mentor for Startupbootcamp Digital Health Berlin and a notable blogger with a focus on startups. Maren has years of experience working with startups and will serve as a speaker and a judge for Data Natives Tel Aviv’s Startup Battle. Here is what Maren has to say about Data Natives Tel Aviv, data-driven technologies and the Israeli tech ecosystem.

You can register for tickets to Data Natives Tel Aviv here.

Q: What do you hope to gain or learn during Data Natives Tel Aviv?

Data Natives differs from many of the other startup conferences that I’ve attended. I joined the first Data Natives event in Berlin in the fall of 2016 and was impressed by the high level of speakers, by the topics of discussion, the deep tech focus and, of course, by the variety of startups that participated in the startup battle.

That being said, I’m looking forward meeting more big data and eHealth experts during Data Natives Tel Aviv to talk about future trends and also to discuss how the IoT community can come together and become even closer in the future.

At the European Innovation Hub we coordinate the EU-funded IoT-European Platforms Initiative. Within this program, seven research consortia with more than 100 partners collaborate to build a strong IoT ecosystem in Europe. Following the motto “from lab to market,” we encourage the development of interoperable platform technologies and foster the adoption by the developer and entrepreneur community.

Shortly after DataNatives Tel Aviv, we will start the first of ten Open Calls. Within this call, SMEs and startups in eHealth, IoT, Big Data and logistics can apply for financial support of up to 125,000 Euro per project. Just in this one call we will invest 850,000 Euro to strengthen IoT technologies made in Europe and Israel.

What data-driven technologies are of particular interest to you and why?

I tend to focus more on the consumer side of technology. In the B2C area, I am most interested in technologies that are changing peoples lives, that overcome boundaries and that will support people in future such as eHealth technologies including smart textiles and robotics in MedTech. In terms of B2B solutions, I am fascinated by industrial IoT, e.g. Virtual Reality in B2B, predictive maintenance, beacon solutions.  

Do you believe that Israel is a strategic market for showcasing data-driven technologies? If so, why?

Israel is a very interesting market for any tech and data-driven industry. Many big players have strong innovation hubs in the “Startup Nation” including Deutsche Telekom, Microsoft and IBM.

Developers in Israel are also extremely experienced and well educated. The community of Israeli tech and business experts are also highly energetic. However, there are reports such the one from Innovation Endeavours that highlight uncovered potential, especially in the area of IoT.

According to investment experts, 80 percent of the startups active in IoT (during the end of 2015) are focused on applications rather than IoT platforms or components. I am curious to see how the data-driven startup community in Israel is taking on this challenge. 

How is your particular field of interest driving the data revolution?

Industrial IoT is still a playing field for entrepreneurs. In Europe, we have many very successful mid-sized companies operating all over the world, but are in areas consumers hardly see. They produce components, take care of logistics, develop new materials and are therefore the backbone for entire industries. If we manage to link these companies with smart startups, then both side swill benefit. Plus, we can access hidden data to kick off cool innovation in the B2B sector. Would I call this a revolution? No, but I think it will be a “smart evolution.”

I also would like to add another layer to the discussion: When we talk about the drivers, we must also talk about current barriers. I believe that working on trust is one of our top priorities in IoT. If we deal with sensitive data such as in eHealth and Fintech, we have to discuss privacy and security. These are two strong topics that always come up when we talk with the partners of the IoT-European Platforms Initiative. Trust plays an essential role in the development of strong IoT businesses in Europe. Customer –and societal – acceptance of data driven services is crucial for its success. 

Can you offer advice for others wanting to get involved in these particular fields?

There is a general piece of advice that I give entrepreneurs as well as executives: Listen first!

Whatever you do, you have to understand how businesses work, what the pain points are and how people are dealing with problems right now to find the proper solutions. 

In IoT, this also means talking to users to understand how processes are connected. Think about collaboration instead of product ownership. First and foremost, connected technology requires communication to overcome borders between sectors, countries and most importantly, competition. Within the IoT-European Platform Initiative, we just started to bring more than 200 researchers, industry representatives and SMEs together – in my mind this is the first step towards building a healthy IoT ecosystem. 


Meet Maren and learn more about Israeli startups driving innovation during Data Natives Tel Aviv 2016 – Save your spot by registering today!


Think you have what it takes to compete in the Startup Battle? Apply for the Data Natives Tel Aviv Startup Battle here.


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