So what happened at Disruption Summit Europe 2017?

Didn’t get to the event? Here’s what you missed. . .

D/SRUPTION held its inaugural conference, Disruption Summit Europe (DSE), at 155 Bishopsgate, London. The event attracted over 400 industry wide corporate leaders, bringing together the most innovative minds in business today. The event was sponsored by PA Consulting, and showcased over 50 world class speakers. The #DisruptionSummit Twitter hashtag was trending by 9:30am in the UK.

The summit was kicked off by Frazer Bennett, Chief Innovation Officer at PA Consulting, whose keynote reminded us that, ‘disruption is now the new normal’. D/SRUPTION cofounder and serial entrepreneur John Straw then explained the relationship between profit and friction using the novel example of bananas. Unilever’s Jane Buck emphasised the need to encourage innovation as a cultural movement, whilst Ocado CTO Paul Clarke concluded the section with a witty keynote that outlined the merits of cloud computing and the application of sensors.

Following the initial talks, delegates chose between one of two speaker tracks. The Disruption track focused on understanding and taking advantage of disruptive technology, whilst the Innovation track discussed the most important pioneering changes of the 21st century. This included a particularly entertaining talk from cyborg visionary Scott Cohen, who convinced the audience that inserting titanium rods into his chest was in fact a logical progression for the senses. During the afternoon session, Dr Louis Rosenberg explained the philosophy behind his company Unanimous AI, and the collective intelligence it hopes to create.
“Things are about to change,” he said, “Research labs are spending billions of dollars on an alien intelligence that is smarter than us. We need to get smarter – much smarter.”

As well as individual speakers, each track hosted three panel discussions. The Disruption track panellists debated data driven health, the impact of automation on employment, and mixed reality for business. The Innovation track panellists discussed postmodern business models, open innovation and the important of investing in disruption.
“Investment is an old and traditional industry. One of the reasons we invest in the Internet of Things is because we believe the connected world can completely transform that,” said Ben Luckett, MD of Aviva Ventures. Fellow panellists cited AI, cryptocurrencies and electronic vehicles as key areas for investment.

Speaking from the Summit, DSE founder and CEO Rob Prevett said, “We live in a time of unprecedented change. Today’s event demonstrates the way disruption has moved beyond being a buzzword or trend to rapidly become the new normal. We’ve heard from startups challenging the status quo with innovative new business models, and pioneering business leaders that understand the need to look beyond the world as they know it. It’s clear that all sectors face disruption. To me the choice is simple – disrupt or be disrupted. If you don’t disrupt your own sector someone else will.”

Over the course of the event, attendees were invited to get hands on with disruptive technology including Microsoft HoloLens headsets, an aerial drone and a robotic arm. DSE 2017 demonstrated yet again that the rise of disruption is well underway, impacting businesses from Venture Capital firms to SexTech startups. Perhaps the key take home of the day is a feeling of urgency. Both large and small corporations have acknowledged the scale of technological disruption, and are learning to preempt rather than respond to change. In his closing remarks, John Straw showed the audience some real world examples of one of the most disruptive technologies currently creeping into the consumer market – Augmented Reality.