Circular economy, Artificial Intelligence and Immersive Technologies: IFA Innovations Media Briefing in Berlin gives exclusive insights ahead of this year’s IFA Berlin

This year’s IFA Innovations Media Briefing, which took place in Berlin this week, provided an eager audience of journalists and industry professionals with an exclusive sneak peek of what’s in store for IFA Berlin 2023. Here, we are giving you an exclusive sum-up of the first day’s international keynotes as well as the gfu Insights & Trends session.

IFA Management GmbH’s Managing Director Oliver Merlin welcomed attendees to the two-day exclusive press event, detailing how, in a fast-moving world, adaptation is key. “Change is here—are you prepared?”. A pertinent question for businesses and consumers too. 

With sustainability and innovation remaining the core themes, the upcoming IFA Berlin (1-5 September 2023) will again be the world’s leading showcase of consumer and home electronics, businesses, services and solutions designed with the future in mind, all preparing consumers for a shifting future. 

Day one of Innovations Media Briefing (IMB) set out to address these themes in comprehensive detail, readying consumers and businesses with new perspectives alongside exclusive product presentations.

A standout was an eye-opening deep dive hosted by gfu Insight & Trends: “From Throwaway Society to Circular Economy.”  Dr. Monika Griefahn, Founder and CEO of Institut Medien, Umwelt, Kulture (IMUK), began the proceedings by talking about the “cradle to cradle” philosophy, which aims to rethink consumption patterns, production methods, product design and other factors to “make the change and leave a positive impact”.

Claudia Kreft, from the Consumer Centre of Thuringia, used her time to discuss the “repair bonus” (“reparatur bonus”) initiative that has been successfully implemented in the German state since 2021, providing a strong incentive for consumers to have their electronics goods repaired, as they are reimbursed up to 50% of repair costs. 

Steffen Vangerow, Managing Director of Vangerow HmbH, addressed the social, political and industrial obstacles to the repair industry, with a clear mission: “Saving the professional repairers in Germany”!

Viola Linke, Head of Global Communication and Brand Management at Liebherr, presented her company’s patented BluRox technology, which she claimed is a sustainable replacement of the conventional polyurethane foam that is usually used in refrigerators and freezers, underlining Liebherr’s quest to become “the leader in sustainable freezing and cooling”.

Dr. Tim Seewöster, Chief Marketing Officer at asgoodasnew, a German company specialising in e-commerce repair, discussed the potential of the so-called “refurbishing boom,” with the refurbishing segment apparently growing at a faster rate than the general e-commerce market.  

Understanding the circular economy was a key theme from the opening day of IMB, with Dr. Monika Griefahn returning later in the day to participate in a fireside chat alongside Vika Kanar, Co-Founder and CEO Re-Fresh Global. The conversation addressed differing perspectives of consumer goods within the circular economy, and Dr. Griefahn discussed how Cradle to Cradle design principles can reshape manufacturing processes, with sustainability and responsible practice in mind. 

Helping audiences visualise the shifting attitudes towards the circular economy was Dr. Sara Warneke, Managing Director of gfu Consumer and Home Electronics and Dr. Martin Schulte, Global Sector Leader Consumer Durables at Oliver Wyman, who presented findings  European consumer survey was conducted by the strategy consulting firm Oliver Wyman in cooperation with gfu, with a range of interesting findings that outline the state of the circular economy in the current climate.

One take away from the survey is that though younger and older generations have shared notions about sustainability, but with slightly different interpretations. For example, 53% of respondents over the age of 55 said they would rather repair old products rather than buying new ones. Despite only 37% of those aged 18 to 34 agreeing with this, the age segment was the most willing to buy refurbished products and to share and rent products when needed instead of buying. 

Other insights into the shifting landscape of sustainable electronics came in the form of the “Investing in Bright, Sustainable Futures” keynote from Dr. Carolin Gabor, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Caesar Ventures, as well as warm-up insights from Alexander Dehmel, Market Intelligence Lead Germany and Austria at GfK.  

The pertinent topic of artificial intelligence was also on the agenda for day one, with an experimental keynote from the artist Harry Yeff, helping audiences understand the potential of AI via his “digital vocal twin,” which duetted with Mr. Yeff by predicting his next vocal note. 

Mr. Yeff returned to discuss AI further with the panel talk “New frontiers in AI: unveiling the value, impact, and future of responsible AI adoption,” featuring participation from Magdalena Paluch, Co-founder and CEO of LabTwin and Professor Paul Lukowicz – German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence. This theme was returned to in the final presentation of the day given by Karsten Weil, Chief Galactic Officer at UFOMAMMOOT, who gave attendees a first-hand insight into how artificial intelligence can be used in practice and experimentally too.

Stay tuned for more coverage, with a summary of the second day’s sessions and key exhibitors’ “Power Briefings” and product launches to come here on the IFA Newsroom very soon!

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