In a technologically developing world, there are many innovation trends to follow. Health and Nutrition are themes where a lot needs to be developed so that people live longer and happier lives. In Education, both the young and old need to learn how to use their unique expertise to stand out in an increasingly competitive world. Finance and Security are areas where a lot needs to be developed so that transactions are made faster and in a more secured way. Commuting to work needs to happen more sustainably and faster than ever before. Finally, to ease our everyday lives, solutions in Living & Working are much needed. What are the most important innovation trends around us? What’s currently the next big thing in all these themes? If you’re an innovator in one of those themes or just someone curious, read on to be inspired!

Education | Artificial Intelligence, Self-learning & Personalized education

Diederik Karsten, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer at Liberty Global, found it difficult to choose between the diverse initiatives presented during the Summer Nights, but has in the end decided that the use of AI and self-learning have been the most prominent trends. What he’s also noticed is that Education is not video-based, but language-based; the innovations attempt to make students read better, source written documents better, etc. What he learned is that there are already many innovators that facilitate learning abilities and make education accessible to all.

Martin Diepeveen, the Education Lead at Microsoft, has a different perspective on the trends he sees in Education. He sees personalized education as one of the top three trends in his theme. What he means by that are innovations that personalize the content that is taught and innovations that also personalize the way of presenting it. This is to increase the accessibility of education to all. Another important trend he sees in Microsoft is flexibilization in education. What they are working on is allowing children from 12 years of age to pick subjects that they’re good at and study them at their own pace. Completing the courses is rewarded with certificates. Finally, as a basis for all innovation, Diepeveen says, AI or augmented intelligence, is to be the growth factor. We shall see how this turns out to be!

As a basis for all innovation, AI is to be the growth factor

Carine de Meyere,  Senior Investment Advisor & Knowledge Broker at Future Planet Capital, has yet another idea about the most visible innovation trends in Education. To her, student follow systems, platforms connecting parents and teachers and educational protection programs are some of the highlights. Seamless communication and security in Education seem to be areas that De Meyere likes to see. Another trend not to be omitted are sites helping people learn how to code. In an age when developers are in infinite demand, this is an understandable trend.

Nutrition | Food replacements, Sustainability & FoodTech

Dirk Lippits, President/Business unit director of DSM, claims that in Asia, more precisely in China as an example, things like meat replacements are more interesting to sell because of the far greater population. Hence, according to him, there are some observable trends in this theme, but they need to be viewed in terms of culture and the nation where the innovative nutrition products are to be sold. Sustainability, is a value that needs to be kept constantly, no matter where the innovative concept comes from.

Joost Matthijssen, Investment Manager at Nutreco, focuses on different trends. Since his company is an animal feed company, he’s most interested in AgTech solutions around livestock farming and aquaculture, as well as FoodTech innovations related to alternative protein sources. Nutrition concepts, take note!

Another jury member from Nutrition, Carl Nagle, the Global Marketing Innovation Director at Jacobs Douwe Egberts, is highly focused on sustainability concepts. To put it in his own words, “we’re trying to figure out how to water a planet that’s kind of outgrown its home”. What he’s looking for are innovators who manage the recycling process and who manage the monetizing part of the value chain. If you’re one of those concepts, feel free to reach out to him and introduce yourself!

We’re trying to figure out how to water a planet that’s kind of outgrown its home

Climate | saving energy, renewable energy, reducing CO2 emissions

Henk Bijl, the Managing Director of Smart Grid Services at Accenture, says that there are many trends to choose from. What keeps on reappearing is saving energy and doing that in a sustainable way. Bijl has also stressed the focus on the Paris Agreement in the Climate theme; they really want to reduce the CO2 emissions and instead encourage the creation of sustainable energy. As an example, he has talked about an energy transition from gas usage to other fuels, namely electricity or hydrogen. Let’s hope that this energy transition will come true!

Reducing the CO2 emissions and encouraging the creation of sustainable energy is the goal in Climate

Anna Collignon, a Lawyer and Partner at Stibbe, has talked about the same trends in the theme. An important issue to tackle are of course the high CO2 emissions in the air, unsustainable energy consumption and the need for new sources of energy.

Living and Working | AI, Blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT)

Deborah Nas, a Professor of Strategic design for technology-based innovation at TU Delft, sees AI in the spotlight. She believes that it’s not only a big topic in Living & Working, but in all the themes. In her view, AI will transform consumers’ decision-making processes, because they are its target without even being aware of it. Another user-case scenario of AI is in management; they may use AI to help form decisions on the way a business is run. Another trend is blockchain, claims Nas. However, since all the innovators in the blockchain arena have difficulty explaining what it is and how it’s useful, there are not that many successful use cases yet. Nas believes they are on their way though.

Jeannine Peek, the General Director of Dell The Netherlands, sees AI as the key hype in Living & Working, too. It’s all about analyzing data, she says. Another trend is IoT; innovations such as smart parking and others that simplify our lives are the new hits.

Internet of Things is increasingly becoming the way to simplify our lives

Finance | AI, Blockchain and Microfinance

Ivar Wiersma, Global Head of ING Labs Wholesale Banking, believes that in terms of technology trends in Finance, AI and blockchain certainly cannot be ignored. This is because you increasingly start to see the big impact of these new technologies on society. In terms of trends in business models; platform business models and ecosystems are also a thing. Deborah Nas has talked about platforms in Living & Working too, but the number of innovators in this area is on a decline, she says.

Dagmar van Ravenswaay Claasen, Director of Regulatory Affairs at Adyen, talks about completely different technology trends. She sees innovators solving the problems of people who don’t know how to deal with money; in terms of microfinance and budgeting (personal finance), there are quite a few successes that make this area of Finance a trend. The reason why she finds this trend an interesting one is because through digitalization and getting rid of the middle man, corruption and costs, personal finance becomes more direct. And this is especially interesting for the older generation which is not yet fully included in this digital age, because they don’t know how to deal with all the available devices. With personal finance becoming more inclusive and consumer-friendly, this could change completely.

Through digitalization and getting rid of the middle man, corruption and costs, personal finance becomes more direct

Chris Pope, the VP Innovation at ServiceNow, observes a few different trends at the same time. Since it’s still relatively difficult to open a bank account at a traditional bank with all sorts of security standpoints, these banks are realizing that they must reengineer their front-end. They must keep up with all the modern FinTech’s where opening an account takes minutes, not weeks. They must make opening a traditional bank account attractive to the average millennial user, because there’s already so much competition in this industry. What is also a trend, is the need to comply with GDPR and the need to handle security and identity regulations. In other words, traditional banks are facing many obstacles. That’s why partnerships between these giants and smaller innovators is needed!

Mobility | sustainability, commerce and ‘easy solutions’

Mattijs ten Brink, the Managing Director and Chairman of Transavia, sees two trends in Mobility. The first one that he likes is about combining sustainability with commerce. There are some innovators who create a sustainable solution to a problem without losing the commerce touch. The other trend that he doesn’t like is about innovators coming up with easy solutions to a complex problem. There are already a lot of apps and platforms that offer a ‘quick fix’ and those are the ones that Ten Brink considers disappointing. The real solutions aren’t four apps to drive a car; it comes down to inventing one app that is able to replace all of these to perform that one same activity.

It comes down to inventing one app that is able to replace all others and perform that one same activity

Security | consumer solutions

Jaya Baloo, the Chief Information Security officer at KPN, sees a shift to consumer solutions. In an age of cyber-attacks and cyber threats, people are starting to understand that it is justified to pay for security. It mainly serves as a necessary addition to convenience and better performance.

In an age of cyber-attacks, people are increasingly aware that security represents a certain value and are also more willing to pay for it

That AI, Blockchain and sustainability are the three key reoccurring trends in each theme may perhaps come along as unsurprising. However, other topics such as food replacements, seem rather unexpected and difficult to imagine. When it comes to microfinance and digitalization we are still awaiting the long-term effects of this transformation. What seems baffling is that there are already so many apps that offer quick fixes to complex problems. While the other innovation trends are all about offering durable solutions to global challenges. Be a true inventor!