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This is the second of a two-part series on Cyprus’ startup ecosystem. Read how to apply for up to €1 million from Cyprus’ new R+I fund here.
Over 1100 people are attending a festival focusing on the future opening tomorrow morning in Limassol, Cyprus.
The second, annual Reflect Festival brings together startups, entrepreneurs, investors, students and the government. Speakers will be presenting their solutions to some of the world’s problems around transportation, cybersecurity, energy and education.
The event takes place as the Cyprus government launches a new fund for which startups and scaleups can apply to receive up to €1 million in order to tackle the future problems of the country and the wider region, as first reported in Forbes.com.
Key to the initiative is to encourage Cyprus’ diaspora to return home and to open up the country to the wider world.
“Our motivation is to create a forum where we bring global speakers to Cyprus to meet early-stage startups and government to share stories of the future and build a broader network,” say the Festival co-founders Dusan Duffek and Stylianos Lambrou in an interview with Forbes.com.
So what are the some of the top tips about the future according to some of the festival’s 45 speakers who are delivering cutting edge products and services?
Harvesting wind energy from the city itself
Wind and wave turbines make the most of rural or maritime locations to generate carbon-neutral power. But what about scavenging the wasted energy from movement in urban locations?
Charlotte Slingsby is developing lightweight flexible sheeting material, resembling something like blades of grass, which can be applied to an existing urban surface. As the wind hits the textile, it creates a fluttering movement which can directly generate electricity.
“We have all stood on a train platform, waiting for our train and felt those big gusts of wind,” says Slingsby whose company Moya Power, is already working with Crossrail, the company building London’s new underground.
“I am looking into the potential of lining the tunnel along the stopping distance of the train with the flexible sheets, and then every time the train passes by it can absorb that wasted wind energy.”
What is Charlotte Slingsby’s top tip about the future?
“Relying on any single resource can never lead us towards a sustainable future.”
Within 25 years, Juraj Vaculik predicts that there will be hundreds of cars flying between cities that can take-off and land vertically.
“Hailing an air taxi will be common. Air transport as a service will be reality,” adds the CEO and co-founder of AeroMobil whose company is developing, manufacturing and selling flying cars.
Its plan is to bring a high-volume approach to a traditionally low-volume aerospace industry. The proof of concept was first flown in 2013 with its intended customers – tech enthusiasts, pilots and supercar drivers – registering their interest for the AeroMobil 4.0, the first model, on sale at a cost of €1.2 million to €1.5 million.
The later AeroMobil 5.0 will be part of shared mobility scheme where passengers can hail a ride, like Uber, Lyft or Grab, and targeted at business customers.
What is Juraj Vaculik’s top tip about the future?
“Applying automotive design and manufacturing technologies into aerospace and vice versa is a major game-changer.”
Making sure women have an equal voice in the media
A recent study by the Women’s Media Center found that men receive 63% of bylines and other credits in print, internet and TV. And even those articles that are published by women are more likely to be lifestyle pieces than hard news topics such as politics or the economy.
Swaay is a media platform combining social networking with a publishing platform to challenge this inequality “celebrating the stories of women who are challenging the status quo and giving them a platform to participate in more meaningful conversations,” says founder and CEO Iman Oubou.
Its community is a network of women who embody and give voice to modern femininity: leaders, founders, activists, doers, mothers, and game-changers between the ages of 25 and 54.
“It’s the only platform where women own the conversation. Think Medium meets Linkedin for professional/badass women.”
What is Iman Oubou’s top tip about the future?
“There’s a surge of female-focused media, networks, and resources looking to fill the gap in our post #MeToo era.”
Reskilling people without incurring loans
One in five workers, expected to lose their jobs in the next decade due to automation, AI, robotics, and other technological advances, will need to reskill to find a new job. But the majority of those people lack the savings, credit history and risk tolerance to self-finance retraining.
“People assume that either education is not free or it’s free and governments or philanthropists have to pay. But there is a third option – education at no cost to individuals, governments or donors,” says Dr Nat Ware, founder and CEO of Forte.
Tradable income-based securities, Forte’s new financial product, enables governments to reskill displaced workers paid for by investors who cover their costs by a portion of the future increase in tax revenue attributed to the training.
“Think of it as ‘Lydia’s future taxes paying for Lydia’s present training’.”
Dr Ware predicts that Forte-style securities will be the main way that reskilling is financed around the world because it leaves government budgets untouched.
“We enable governments to future-proof their countries by providing laid-off workers with skills for the future, so they can get good jobs, earn good salaries, support their families and live with dignity.”
What is Dr Nat Ware’s top tip about the future?
“The current linear model of education, where education mainly occurs at one point in one’s life, will give way to a cyclical model of training-work-training-work-training-work.”
Mentoring children in care
Buddy, a progamme in Slovakia, matches and supports mentors for young people who have grown up in children’s homes because they cannot be placed with families. The programme, which has matched 80 children with mentors, has so far supported 20 children to become independent adults.
“Preliminary calculations show us that every child we can integrate will bring five to 10 times more value to our society compared to the investment in their 10 years of mentoring,” says Ladislav Kossar, founder and CEO of Provida which provides the Buddy programme.
“Once children are healed, they can succeed in school, have jobs and homes and start their own families in a life of dignity.”
Kossar is planning to roll out the programme across Central and Eastern Europe – where the estimated spend is $10 billion in care for abandoned and traumatised children (housing, food, social care, education, health care) – and, eventually, to other regions around the world.
What is Ladislav Kossar’s top tip about the future?
“Investing in children, education and health is considered to have the highest return for society.”
Brands emerge from social media
New companies are emerging out of identities forged first through social media. Glossier, a make-up brand born online, has just been valued at $1 billion for example.
“We’re seeing the strong ones build brand affinity and a loyal customer base that rival high street brands and household names that have much bigger marketing budgets,” says Jamie Bolding, CEO and founder of Jungle Creations.
The shift means that the existing companies that survive will be those that create content and experiences regardless of whether it’s directly promoting their product or not.
Bolding practices what he preaches. His company specialises in creating video content for its 115 million followers shared across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat.
But he has also successfully launched two companies that existed originally only on social media – Twisted London, delivering fast-food ordered online, and Lovimals, an e-commerce business that prints owners pets on their clothes which made $1million in its first month of operation.
What is Jamie Bolding’s top tip about the future?
“We have a much more integrated relationship with our audience. We’ll have relationships with them beyond social platforms.”
Keeping safe the exploding number of online accounts
The average internet user is unknowingly signed up to 150 to 200 active online accounts, putting them at high risk of cybercrime. Seven hundred million people, of whom 40% are millennials, experienced cybercrime last year which cost them €113 billion.
“You cannot expect authority alone to keep you safe online, you too need to gain awareness and take control,” says Slingsby, co-founder and CTO of Nettoken, as well as Moya Power (see above).
Her business Nettoken finds and analyses all the services you signed up to over time and organises them automatically into a secure and easy to use dashboard with a breakdown of essential information.
“Our initial target market will be addressing young professionals as well SMEs and independent workers, who have a basic understanding of ‘cybersecurity’ and a habit of signing up to new products to improve lifestyle and productivity.”
What is Charlotte Slingby’s second top tip about the future?
“The world will need to cyber-protect 300 billion passwords globally by 2020.”
Rewards school students
“A mobile app that recognizes and rewards students for their healthy habits, kindness, volunteerism and academic achievements,” says Logan Cohen of Kudzoo which has over half a million users.
It’s funded by advertising.
The challenge is to reach the next generation of consumers who can “sniff out ad’ litter” in their mobile experience pushing brands to consider a user’s “what’s-in-it-for-the-consumer” when creating content.
What is Logan Cohen’s tip about the future?
“It shouldn’t be a shock to anyone that Generation Z thinks ads are intrusive and interrupt their screen time.”
May 8, 2019 at 09:51AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs