Welcome futourists! From HackIAA to Web Summit Lisbon 2017

Our main prize from the IAA Hackathon was for us, Thomas Hehn, Christian Kohlhas and me Benedict Kerres, to join the DigitalLife team (@ digital life) at the websummit in Lisbon. This prize did not only include a ticket to Web Summit 2017 in Lisbon, but also the expenses for the entire trip.

The DigitalLife team at Daimler organized our flights to Portugal and booked our rooms at a five star hotel with the Daimler Web Summit team.

It was great to connect with the team again. Sharing the summit and the beautiful weather with colleagues and senior management really shows the open hierarchical structures at Daimler. Thanks again for the awesome time, Markus Hägele (Head of DigitalLife@Daimler) and Daniel Deparis (Head of smartlab). Also thanks for the follow-up Jörg Lamparter (Head of Daimler Mobility Services), who was also a jury member at the Web Summit Start-up pitches!

Thomas Hehn, Benedikt Kerres, Markus Hägele (Head of DigitalLife@Daimler) and Christian Kohlhas (f.l.t.r.)

Web Summit Lisbon – where the tech world meets

Web Summit is one of the biggest technology conferences in the world. With around 60,000 attendees from 160 countries and more than 1,000 speakers Web Summit brings together Fortune 500 companies as well as recently founded startups! The speakers ranged from well-known CEOs such as Brian Krzanich (Intel), Mark Hurd (Oracle) and Steve Huffmann (Reddit), as well as Politicians Al Gore and Francois Hollande.

Furthermore there were a lot of specialized industry talks, such as the one hosted by Mercedes-Benz (in total there were 24 of those) at the Mercedes-Benz booth.

What did we do at the summit?

Given that Mercedes-Benz was one of the main sponsors at Web Summit, in preparation of the trip to the summit, Markus Hägele as Head of the DigitalLife@Daimler, also offered us the fantastic opportunity to join him on stage at the amazing Mercedes-Benz booth to pitch our hackathon idea once more. Speaking at a conference with such a high impact was an incredible experience. Being part of Daimler we were able to meet with colleagues and attendees. Networking is really eased by being able to talk over coffee and snacks at such an inspiring setting.

The Mercedes-Benz booth where we got to pitch our hackathon idea once more

Away from the Daimler stage we met with interesting start ups and were given 1 on 1 meetings, given our association with Daimler. We were also attending invite only non public events such as workshops by McKinsey on artificial intelligence in business. It has been an inspiring experience throughout!


My team members and I decided to fly to Lisbon a few days before the initial event. As we arrived at the airport in Lisbon, we got picked up by a Daimler Shuttle which transferred us to our accommodation. Soon the sun set down and the, “additional networking program”, started at Bairro Alto, an area which is known for its fantastic nightlife, bars and traditional restaurants. After an amazing dinner, intense conversations and lots of fun I was again struck by the huge enthusiasm and knowledge of the young DigitalLife@Daimler Team. We had an amazing time and just enough sleep, not unlike the the IAA Hack.

Benedict Kerres, Christian Kohlhas and Thomas Hehn in Lisbon

My personal journey after the hackathon

After winning at the Hack.IAA this September in Frankfurt I joined the moovel team just a few weeks later after being introduced to Dr Ayser Armiti, Head of Data Science at moovel Group. We were keen to build upon our Hack.IAA winning pitch and see it come to life. This shows how quickly ideas can come to creation at Daimler and how well integrated the global Hackathon Series “DigitalLife Campus” is within the Daimler ecosystem.

Benedikt Kerres (l.) and Thomas Hehn in front of the Web Summit area

The addition of various labs and innovation hubs within Daimler allowed me to propose a deep vision project to Dr Armiti that draws on state-of-the-art Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) architecture, which he was happy to support. Being able to benefit from Daimler’s vast resources of knowledge and data, makes working a lot more productive.

Focusing on a research project but on the same time seeing how my research could be applied further on makes working just that much more rewarding. I can wholeheartedly recommend anyone to join one of the upcoming hacks, it has been a tremendous experience and career boost like nothing I had experienced before!

For more information about the global hackathon series “DigitalLife Campus” visit: www.digitallife-campus.com or follow DigitalLife@Daimler on Twitter or on LinkedIn.

He studied Physics at Heidelberg University Germany specializing in machine learning and deep vision. He is an avid hacker and kaggler, working with Daimler on new mobility solutions.