PlanetTech News interviews RE.WORK Conference founder Nikita Johnson
To set itself apart from other technology conferences, the RE.WORK Technology Summit combines science, technology and entrepreneurship, with a focus on exponentially growing and breakthrough technologies that can have positive impact on cities, society and business.
In this interview with PlanetTech News, Nikita Jonson explains her motivations and role in establishing and running RE.WORK.
Please tell us briefly about you career and interests.
I'm the founder of RE.WORK, a platform of events bringing together breakthrough technology, cutting-edge science and entrepreneurship shaping the future of business and society. Previously I have worked at the Department for International Development and I have a Masters in Urbanisation and Development from London School of Economics (LSE).
My passion is discovering new technologies with the potential to have a positive impact on solving global challenges.
You are founder of RE.WORK, could you explain how you started this project, what is the story behind it?
My background is in international development and urbanisation, and whilst I was studying my Masters I co-founded a startup incubator for students and Alumni to provide them with support to start up their own businesses in the tech and social enterprise sectors. RE.WORK stemmed from my mission to bring new, exciting and emerging technology to tackle global challenges in society such as population growth in cities, accessible education and healthcare, more sustainable energy sources and efficient urban areas.
What is the concept of RE.WORK and how it differs from other tech workshops and meetings?
RE.WORK brings together leading technologists, entrepreneurs, innovators, and industry leaders to share case studies, research and technological innovations to integrate cutting-edge technology and science into our lives. We focus on three main areas: 1) breakthrough technology and cutting-edge science; 2) a multi-disciplinary approach - bringing together scientists, designers, businesses, entrepreneurs and technologists; and 3) focusing on the impact of technology on society and business to ensure it tackles real problems and challenges.
Since you are based in London, what is your view on the London tech scene, how it is growing and how does it fit into the world?
There is some fantastic innovation coming through startups and academia in London and elsewhere in the UK at the moment. Particularly in the fields of robotics, the Internet of Things and 3D printing, we have seen some fascinating new innovations trying to do their bit to make a positive impact on the world.
What do you perceive as the major challenges and changes in the 21st century?
Unprecedented population growth is leading to a very rapid rise in the number of mega cities on our planet. It has been reported by the UN that by 2050, 7 out of 10 people will live in mega cities. How can we make our cities more fit for purpose? Make them more efficient, safer, cleaner, more sustainable and liveable?
There are also major challenges in ensuring we can provide adequate healthcare for the predicted 9.8 billion population by 2050, and accessible education for many children who do not have access globally.
Which technological and scientific advances would be needed to address these challenges? How much progress has already been made?
Progress in AI will advance healthcare including cancer diagnosis; robotics development will have numerous implications on agriculture and precision farming, assisted living, surgery and intelligent mobility to name a few; nanotechnology advancements will progress nano-medicine, manufacturing processes and environmental issues such as energy storage and production; cheaper production of sensors and 3D printing will revolutionize manufacturing, transport systems and whole cities creating smart and connected homes, workplaces and cities.
RE.WORK is attracting more and more attention. What impact could it have on practical issues, today and in the future, and what do you hope it can change?
Our mission is to bring together researchers, industry and entrepreneurs to encourage collaboration between emerging technologies and to help speed up the process of commercializing new and advancing technologies. We also want to inspire budding entrepreneurs to apply their technological research to solve real challenges in society.
What are the next steps that you plan for RE.WORK? Any other new things that you are working on at the moment?
We hosted our first summit outside of the UK in Berlin in June earlier this year, and we're hosting our first events in the USA in San Francisco in November later this year. We're also hosting sector specific events on the Internet of Things and Deep Learning over the next few months, and we'll be announcing future events focusing on energy, manufacturing and emerging technology in disaster areas in 2015.
To Find out more about the RE.WORK Technology Summit in London on 18-19 September, visit www.re-work.co/tech