“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity” - Albert Einstein.
The 2020 SME Assembly took place on November 16-17, and unlike previous years, this year’s conference was held exclusively virtual.
The global pandemic that has left its permanent mark on everything, has also had its influence on the SMEs. Many talked of the problems businesses face on the COVID affected market; The opening address from Minister Peter Altmaier reflected on the difficulties SMEs are facing during this pandemic. Tackling business and COVID-restrictions is a balancing act, however, as one of the speakers said: if you assemble a great team and adapt to the circumstances, you do have a chance to succeed (Marco Witzmann).
There were also those who spoke of the new possibilities, we can derive from these testing times. This was, perhaps, the silver lining in the SME Assembly 2020. The pandemic has naturally forced many to think outside of the box, which in turn has led to innovative thinking.
Stories of Success
On both days of the conference, the delegates were able to hear about the success stories from several businessowners, who have prevailed this year. This was an inspiring feature of the SME Assembly; the montage of interviews was a combination of motivational material and helpful one-liners.
“If you truly believe in what you do: don’t quit” - Silyana Bojilova.
In no more than ten minutes, this short feature sought to shed some positive light on otherwise testing circumstances.
SMEs moving forward
To start off the second day of the conference, Maja Göpel talked of the economy moving forward. She underlined the necessity of not simply going back to how everything was before the corona virus, but to better ourselves: “We want to build back better”. Göpel underlined that we can’t go back to January 2020 – economic-vice or in regards to the environment.
When talking change, you should also implement growth, Göpel emphasized in her lecture. Our ideas and choices are what can help SMEs through this pandemic – and the new future and reality emerge from those choices.
Joseph E. Stiglitz, professor at Columbia University and winner of Nobel Memorial Prize, gave a lecture on structural challenges that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and suggested how SMEs can help create a greener and fairer society.
To conclude on the conference, Kristin Schreiber said: "There is a strong feeling that simply going back to the status quo is not possible. It would not help us to go back, and would mean throwing away all the learnings from the crisis." As one of the final remarks at the closing of the SME Assembly.
Virtual Reality Tour
And of course, we can’t talk about the 2020 SME Assembly without mentioning the Virtual World Tour, which SiliconHagen offered the delegates at the conference. SiliconHagen’s Project Officer, Line Zahl Larsen guided participants through virtual worlds, showcasing the possibilities of VR as a new meeting and teaching platform. As digitalization was a big topic during this year’s SME Assembly, we at SiliconHagen were thrilled to exemplify this.
The tour led through Weather World, which has drawn on all four seasons to create an environment that varies, changes, and showcases the possibilities of these virtual worlds. Through the portal, the guided tour took the delegates to a world which shows humans’ effect on the environment. Delegates of the SMEs got the chance to explore the virtual world, while networking during this event. The Virtual World Tour ended at the virtual conference room, where it started. The participants then had the opportunity to network, ask questions and explore the room.
The following photos are from the worlds we visited: