While COVID-19 sent shockwaves through the global economy and enforced restrictions on billions of lives, the vital role played by technological solutions rose to the fore.
Pre-2020, both the UK and Germany already had outstanding tech for good entrepreneurial ecosystems, with over 490 companies – valued at over £2.3bn – driving this movement in the UK alone.
As the pandemic impacted all areas of life, it also demanded courage, collaboration, and quick solutions. It accelerated innovation and the adoption of digital solutions that spur more sustainable social and environmental development.
The UK-Germany #TechforGood Talks, an event series hosted by the British Embassy in Berlin’s Katie Moss and Ben Wannenwetsch, and Impact Hub Berlin, brought together stakeholders from both countries’ innovation ecosystems. The series aimed to:
- Introduce experts from different backgrounds to discuss the opportunities and challenges for tech for good solutions.
- Foster cross-border collaboration between the UK and Germany to address some of our greatest shared challenges.
- Explore the differing regulatory environments that enable countries to learn from each other.
We were happy to welcome over 250 participants throughout four interactive events between December 2020 and March 2021.
The Kick-Off event in December brought together actors from different sectors, including startups, universities, and public sector organisations, who discussed the real-life challenges around the topic of tech for good. Discussions focused on the topics of ethics, collaboration, and environmental sustainability in the tech for good space, as well as scaling tech for good businesses.
Participating attendees included high-level experts from Superrr Lab, ShareTheMeal, NESTA, SeedTribe, Auticon, Yoti, and Siemens. Caroline Dinenage, Minister of State for Digital and Culture in the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and Dorothee Bär, Minister of State for Digitalisation at the German Federal Chancellery, represented the countries’ public institutions in the proceedings.
Across three satellite events, we took deep dives to further explore the areas of Climate & AI, Health Tech and Safety Tech.
Climate & AI
At the Climate & AI event – an interactive ‘Futures Literacy Lab’ – designed in partnership with the UNESCO Chair on Planetary Futures at the University of Turku, a diverse group of participants came together to explore and imagine futures for climate and biodiversity featuring AI, challenging the assumptions underlying current decision-making processes. This area of tech for good will only become more relevant as time goes on.
While the pandemic encouraged the development and adoption of digital solutions in the health sector specifically, regulatory challenges still pose significant challenges to the successful adoption of health tech solutions in both Germany and the UK. In our panel discussion on this topic, key players from both countries discussed recent developments and exchanged learnings and best practices. Regulatory insights were shared by the German Federal Ministry for Health, as well as the UK’s NHSX, complemented by the perspectives of medical professionals and health tech startups such as Celonis.
If it wasn’t already, being online for most of the day became routine for most of us during 2020’s lockdowns. Despite this, many are often unaware of the risks posed by the internet, especially for more vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly. During the satellite event on this topic, experts from the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, alongside organisations such as OSTIA, Ananda Impact Ventures, Bitkom, and SafeToNet discussed the potential for the UK and Germany to develop a joint online safety ecosystem. With the pandemic remaining a part of our everyday lives, there’s no time like the present for this to begin.
By bringing together players across the private, public and third sectors in the UK and Germany, Impact Hub Berlin and the British Embassy in Berlin were able to explore these tech for good areas in detail, and establish some interesting avenues to focus on in future.
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