Innovations Beyond Computing

14. Xyna Konferenz  21.11.2019 at the Kurhaus, Wiesbaden

Video reviews

"Short Review"

A review of the GIP Research Institute's Xyna Conference 2019 on 21 Nov 2019 at the Kurhaus, Wiesbaden.

"Innovation im Dialog"

Dr. Bernd Reifenhäuser and Petra Florin discuss the term innovation in the opening talk of the Xyna Conference 2019, true to the conference theme "Innovations Beyond Computing".

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From Leonardo da Vinci to DNA-Computing

The 14th Xyna Conference was all about innovation

Mainz/Wiesbaden - How are new ideas created? How will synthetic biology change our lives? What characterizes social innovations? "Innovations Beyond Computing" was the motto of the 14th Xyna conference held by the Mainz-based software house GIP AG. More than 250 guests from the telecommunications and IT industry met at the Wiesbaden Kurhaus on November 21, 2019, to learn about and exchange ideas on the topic. "Innovations are the DNA of our company," said GIP CEO Dr. Bernd Reifenhäuser."Therefore, nothing was more obvious than to make them the topic of our conference."

Dr. Bernd Reifenhäuser and Petra Florin open the conference

"If one really wants to create something new, one has to be a little crazy"

Rethinking innovations

How do new ideas come about? Dr. Bernd Reifenhäuser opened his presentation on innovations with this leading question. "If you really want to create something new, you have to be a little crazy," he quoted the physicist and Nobel Prize winner Niels Bohr. Reifenhäuser pinpointed the human brain's tendency to stay in tried-and-tested thought paths when solving problems as the biggest obstacle to innovation. This so-called path dependency, however, can be overcome by an interdisciplinary approach. He illustrated this with the example of the universal genius Leonardo da Vinci, who became famous as a painter and sculptor, but was also an outstanding engineer and scientist. The Bauhaus also linked various disciplines, including architecture, furniture making, painting and textile design, and thus created an entirely new style.

Reifenhäuser expects a technological leap from the linking of two originally distant disciplines, namely computer technology and synthetic biology. "DNA computing will continue to evolve over the next decade and open up a completely new field," the GIP executive predicted. He sees applications in a variety of fields, including energy, pharmacology, medicine, agriculture and the environment. "All of a sudden, we have a toolbox here that we can use to fix the problems we're going to get from climate change," Reifenhäuser said. That will spark a revolution, he said, just as the Internet did.

Prof. Dr. Karl-Heinz Friedrich (Biochemist at the Universität Jena)

"Synthetic biology can create structures and systems that do not exist in nature"

Synthetic biology: from artificial blood to data memory

Biochemist Karl-Heinz Friedrich, professor at the University of Jena, delved into the enormous innovation potential of synthetic biology. His lecture began with a foray through the history of genetic research, which began in 1953 with the discovery of the DNA double helix. Since then, the field of research has developed tremendously. It is now possible to equip bacteria with a completely synthetic, i.e. man-made, genome that reproduces like natural organisms. Even artificial life is no longer a utopia. "Synthetic biology can create structures and systems that do not exist in nature," Friedrich said. In the future, genetically modified bacteria would perform a variety of tasks, from breaking down toxic substances to producing artificial blood or customized immune cells that can be used to fight disease.

However, DNA can also be used to store data. Instead of in binary form, DNA encrypts information with a fourfold code that results from the four DNA bases. As a result, the data density is several thousand times higher than that of previously used digital storage media. "One gram of DNA, about a teaspoonful, could theoretically store 100 petabytes of information," Friedrich said. Another advantage is that, unlike digital storage media, DNA is very stable - as evidenced by the fact that millennia-old DNA from Neanderthals or mammoths can still be read today. Some experts believe that DNA will be a standard storage medium in about ten years.

Professor of Human Resource Management Dr. Erk Piening

Social Innovations: A new and broader view of future innovations

Social Innovations

Dr. Erk Piening, Professor of Human Resource Management at the University of Mainz, spoke about social innovations. This involves solving social problems, e.g. in the sectors of health, environment, poverty, etc., for which - often due to a lack of earnings prospects - no private companies are available. Social entrepreneurs, foundations or other organizations step into the breach and take on the problem. As an example, Piening reported on a project of the Bill Gates Foundation in which human excrement is disposed of in neighborhoods without sewage systems and processed into fertilizer. A well-known social innovation is the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, which provides microloans to destitute artisans. The Discovering Hands initiative uses blind people to prevent breast cancer. Social innovation processes, says Piening, need special support to be successful.

Keynote speech "Quantum Grid"

with Eduard Esau (University of Mainz)

Quantum Grid: decentralized power supply for Africa

Another example of a technology-based social innovation is the "Quantum Grid," which GIP developed and for which it holds patents in many countries. This is a decentralized power grid. Analogous to the Internet, small packets of electricity independently find their way through the lines - even in areas with different voltage or frequency, Bernd Reifenhäuser explained. In the Quantum Grid, special routers interconnect subnetworks. This means that the grid no longer requires central control and would also be open to the smallest energy producers, such as individual solar plants or wind turbines.

Such a network would be ideal for many regions of Africa where there are no nationwide power grids. "It takes about 130 days for a company in sub-Saharan Africa to get a power connection. And after that, there is no electricity for about 700 hours a year because of power outages," explained Eduard Esau of the Department of Organization and Business Management at the University of Mainz. The lack of electricity, he said, is blocking development in Africa. According to Bernd Reifenhäuser, the Quantum Grid could effectively solve the electricity problem. It would enable every village to organize its own power supply simply and reliably. New businesses, jobs and Internet connections would be created locally, and the economic situation would improve permanently.

At the Xyna Café, visitors had the opportunity to get a concrete picture of the deployment of the Quantum Grid. With data glasses on their heads, they were able to travel virtually to an African village and learn about the various components of the power grid - from solar panels to batteries.

Dr. Alexander Ebbes (CTO & CEO of GIP Exyr GmbH)

Xyna Phi Factory and other Xyna Innovations

Xyna Innovations

Dr. Alexander Ebbes, CEO of GIP Exyr GmbH, gave an insight into current product developments of the Xyna software. He also presented GIP's Junior Fellow Program, a support program for specialist careers. "Innovations need innovators," Ebbes emphasized. That's why GIP's Junior Fellow candidates are given the opportunity to design and implement their own projects alongside their day-to-day work. Successful candidates will participate in the company as a Fellow.

Various workshops rounded off the program, which ended in the evening with the traditional Xyna party.

Xyna Conference 2019 Agenda & Speakers

  • 14:15 – 15:00

    Dr. Alexander Ebbes
    GIP Exyr GmbH
    Xyna Innovations

  • 15:00 – 17:00

    Xyna Café
    Quantum Grid Land: Gamification & Innovation // Xyna Demos // Ideas Conference // coffee & cake

  • 17:00 – 17:30

    Dr. Bernd Reifenhäuser
    GIP AG
    Re-Thinking Innovations Beyond Computing

  • 17:30 – 18:00

    Prof. Dr. Karl-Heinz Friedrich
    Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
    Synthetische Biologie: Ein Quantensprung, der die Welt verändert?

  • 18:00 – 18:30

    Prof. Dr. Erk Piening
    Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
    Social Innovations: Ein neuer und erweiterter Blick auf zukünftige Innovationen

  • 19:00

    Xyna Party
    Dinner-Buffet & Drinks