Thanks to imec.istart, KWARTS was able to join Web Summit in Lisbon, beginning of November. I was the lucky guy in the team to take up this terrible obligation. 😋
Over 40.000 people on a physical event... it felt like a combination of the Brussels Motor Show, Rock Werchter, and Pukkelpop in hometown Hasselt. From Ayo Tometi (the co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter), Pedro Siza Vieira (the Minister of Economy in Portugal) to Brad Smith (the President of Microsoft). A little bit less beer, and a little bit more content than on these music festivals, that's for sure 😉 but in terms of atmosphere it was simply a great experience!
Key conclusion? Digital Transformation is happening. And you'd better onboard the train.
Life Science in full Digital Transformation
Where we usually start our pitch decks of kwarts.be with figures from McKinsey stating that Pharma is the one but last industry on embarking the Digital Transformation train, I believe we will need to revise that slide...
A pitch that has caught my special attention is the one from Ana Maiques, co-founder and CEO at Neuroelectrics. Their RWE computational approach makes it possible to understand and treat the brain. With a live demo on stage, Ana showed the impact of listening to music on the stimulation of certain brain areas. Amazing!
Combine this for example with epihunter.com technology (one of our former clients), and you're up for a massive revolution towards better quality of life: when we cannot treat a disease, then for sure it makes sense to make life with the disease a lot more convenient. Epihunter founder & CEO Tim Buckinx compares it with wearing glasses: a simple relieve that eliminates poor quality of life for people that suffer from myopia.
Even therapies get a lot more efficient. Think about targeted biologicals that attack a specific area in your body instead of bombing your entire system.
Next, innovation is happening in the Operating Room. At the AmCham Closing Event of the Year of Healthcare, I had the opportunity to test the new Medtronic Hugo surgery robot. Much less invasive, quicker recovery. Surgeon and patient can be miles, even continents separated. Were you still doubting the feasibility of working remote for highly complex activities?
It is clear: after struggling on Digital Transformation for years, the Life Science industry is now quickly adopting technology applications that are able to transform peoples' lives.
If activating technology in a way that facilitates life is possible on the clinical side, then for sure it must be possible in daily operations.
Hybrid Working: the New Normal
On that topic, Hanna Marie Asmussen from Localyze gave an inspiring speech on how a hybrid setup in daily operations has been their key to success. Localyze has adopted a combination of physical and remote offices - leveraging technology. People can choose how and where they want to work. I felt her, because actually at kwarts.be, we do the same 😉 (yeah, on top of new trends! 😎)
First of all, fading boundaries fosters diversity, which in turn leads to different points of view on innovation, a much bigger talent pool and international expansion that almost feels natural. We onboarded Quamber, our Tech Lead in Islamabad, in no longer than one week.
Second, there is no "too early" for a hybrid setup. Especially when a company is young and still needs to hire its first 10 employees, it is the time to define this culture. I must admit, my co-founder Ruben is the one that sometimes still needs to convince me about that - as I also still have a natural reflex that the first 5 strategic employees must be close to us, in our office, for those coffee machine discussions... But hey, we'll see where it leads to... We cannot stop a moving train, and I think I made huge steps forward in thinking along, over the last year 😊
Third, the long-term benefits are really strong. In the "war for talent", it is key to source experts where they are, and not compromise on expertise because other people live closer by.
Fourth, Europe is the best place for it, there is a lot of diversity on a relatively small area. At kwarts.be we have on-site team events every quarter. Those days, the ghosts on the screen become real persons at the table. They don't need to travel for long, because even if they all live in different environments and work remotely most of the time, the distances are rather small.
Last but not least, it doesn't cost a lot. Infrastructure is there. Hmm, need to speak with two words here... Yes, we are now planning to remunerate our employees for a decent internet connection at home and install ergonomic chairs, desks, screens and webcams at their place. This originates from the experience and feedback from our team members, that the most limiting factor to the remote setting is poor technology. Well, that's an easy fix 😉
The Physical Connection ...
Sure, physical still matters. After all those months at imec.istart in digital Teams and Zoom meetings, it was great to discover the persons behind the ghosts of Maarten Van Gorp and Sophie De Bleecker from imec.istart. It was great to meet in-person at the event. Beer and pizza definitely still beat coffee and webcam - but that's why #HybridMatters.
Plenty of other enjoyable in-person meetings: with candidates, business partners... It was my first time at Web Summit, we will definitely go back, but then I need to better prepare, since I didn't even take half of the potential out of this event (well yes, that's my most honest feedback, mea culpa? 😊).
When meetings get pleasant, evenings get late and flights almost get missed... Thanks to our partner Bluepanda.pt, I did enjoy the night out. Although it comes with a learning: next time I won't book a flight at 6.20am in the morning. Especially since I woke up at 5.15am (overslept through 3 alarm clocks!) and still needed to grab a taxi 😲 - #TaxiBeatsUberOnSpeed #JustInTime 😉
Bart Van Proeyen, the lucky bastard at KWARTS that made it to Web Summit 👊👌