The finalists will be surrounded by a 12-metre tall data visualisation artwork
This year, 50 Big Data start-ups from 17 countries will be showcasing their products in a specially designed pavilion at CeBIT exhibition in Hanover, sponsored by the IT services giant GFT and its partners Deutsche Messe and Ernst & Young.
These companies are the finalists of the annual Code_N competition, which aims to find the best examples of analytics put to work in the health, finance, transportation, manufacturing, energy and retail sectors. Participants from the UK include EnergyDeck, SOMA Analytics, tvbeat, Viewsy, Deltasign and Massive Analytic.
The exhibition space, designed by Kram and Weisshaar and featuring multi-terapixel, 12-meter tall data visualisations, was unveiled at a press conference in London on Tuesday.
“CODE_n will showcase what is already possible with big data – not just in terms of technology, but also in terms of ground-breaking applications and industry solutions,” said GFT CEO Ulrich Dietz.
‘Code of the New’
Brainchild of Dietz, the Code_N programme has been running for three years, aiming to lead young companies to greatness, or at least a profitable exit. This year’s competition saw almost 500 applications from all corners of the world, meaning only 10 percent of entrants got through to the final stage.
The winner of the competition will receive €30,000, but more importantly, the chance to be seen at CeBIT, the world’s largest and most international computer expo.
German-born Dietz says that his agenda is to build a healthy start-up culture in Europe, to rival that in Israel and the US. And unlike the majority of exhibitions which he describes as boring, “CeBIT is a really cool show.”
In keeping with this message, the Code_N pavilion promises as always to be a real sight to behold. In 2013, it was a 3,500 square metre metal maze, punctuated with man-sized alphabet letters. This year, the space will be surrounded by a 12 metre tall, 260 metre long fabric wall that visualises data in a stunning 12.4 terapixel pattern. For example, one segment will show a detailed map of the brain based on the most recent research, while another will display key word usage trends in all books ever indexed by Google.
The installation was created by Reed Kram and Clemens Weisshaar, the artists who in 2010 brought 1.5-ton Audi automotive robots to Trafalgar Square to write messages using light painting.
Meet the hopefuls
One of the reasons this year’s competition is focused on analytics is the lack of suitable Big Data applications for the financial sector – an area of special interest for GFT. According to Ernst & Young board member Robert Toguri, the evidence of this was seen in the industry failing to predict the 2008 economic crisis.
Toguri believes that analytics should be implemented more widely to monitor risk, growth and compliance, and every financial institution should employ a Chief Data Officer. He also mentioned several examples of Big Data used successfully – such as the insurance industry collecting car telematics data to reward careful drivers, and the credit card industry using social media for credit scoring.
So what does it take for a start-up to win a free ticket to Hannover? SOMA Analytics has developed a smartphone application that monitors the levels of stress in the workplace by analysing owner’s voice frequency, sleep patterns and even typing speed. The data can then point out employees that are most likely to ‘burn out’, and suggest methods to de-stress.
At the launch event, Christopher Lorenz, the founder and head of Analytics at SOMA, dismissed TechWeek’s concerns that the app could be used to get rid of the most vulnerable employees, saying that such decisions would depend on corporate culture, and could also go against the law in some countries, including the UK.
Meanwhile Viewsy has created a Google Analytics-like tool for brick-and-mortar retail stores that anonymously tracks customer movement using white-label routers and their smartphone Wi-Fi MAC address.
Deltasight is working on a system that indexes every single patent application and translates the language of lawyers into that of business people. It can even predict which companies are more likely to license a certain invention.
Finally, EnergyDeck builds a community-based platform that aggregates information about things like electricity and gas consumption, allowing businesses to instantly see just how efficiently they run the building, and where they can make improvements.
Great Britain has been selected as the partner country for CeBIT 2014, commemorating the 300th anniversary of a historic export from Hanover to the UK – King George I. The exhibition will open its doors on 10 March, and TechWeek will be reporting directly from the grounds.
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