The world of technology and innovation is in a constant state of flux, with new advancements in foundational tech reshaping industries at an unprecedented pace. At CES 2024, the convergence of corporate leaders, government representatives, startup visionaries, and investors provided a unique lens into the future of artificial intelligence, mobility, digital health, sustainability, consumer products, frontier tech, and beyond. Below, we dive into the fascinating discussions and insights from the conference and the series of private dinners and roundtables co-hosted by Silicon Foundry. We also highlight how these conversations are shaping the trajectory of industries and the global innovation landscape.
AI Innovation Dinner: A Convergence of Minds
This year at CES 2024, Silicon Foundry and Kearney FFWD co-hosted an intimate gathering that brought together some of the brightest minds in the field of AI. The private dinner was a melting pot of ideas and discussions that are shaping the future of AI and corporate innovation.
The room at Ocean Prime buzzed with the intellectual energy of 20 industry leaders, representing a wide array of esteemed organizations including Merck, Frisco Economic Development, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Southwest Airlines, Comcast, LG Tech Ventures, Goodyear, Volvo, and more. These leaders were joined by luminaries in AI including Akram Hassan from Rengage, Ryan Wang from Assembled AI, and Alex Wettreich from Writer, enriching the conversation with their diverse perspectives.
SiF CEO welcomes corporate leaders, founders & investors to a private AI focused dinner
- The Future of AI in Marketing and Business: A key discussion point at the dinner revolved around the transformative role of AI in marketing and business operations. The consensus was clear: AI is now indispensable, especially in marketing functions where creativity remains the human forte, and all other aspects are increasingly managed by AI. This shift not only streamlines operations but also opens new avenues for creative exploration.
- Data Accessibility and Large Language Models: The conversation then delved into the realm of data accessibility. With AI, business functions are no longer bottlenecked by the need for constant interaction with tech or internal IT departments. Data is readily accessible, fostering a culture of immediate insight and action. This shift is breaking down silos and fostering a more collaborative and informed workforce. Looking forward, 2024 is poised to witness a surge in purpose-driven Large Language Models (LLMs). These models offer corporates a unique opportunity to train AI systems that are not only technologically advanced but also ethically aligned and representative.
- Ethical AI and Auditing: An integral part of the discussion was the importance of developing AI systems that adhere to ethical standards. The need for a representative dataset is paramount to ensure that AI systems are unbiased and equitable. This ethical approach paves the way for a new growth sector: companies specializing in auditing Language Models, ensuring they meet the highest standards of fairness and integrity.
- AI and Workforce Dynamics: While the long-term impact of AI might suggest a reduction in headcount, companies are currently ramping up their workforce to prepare for an AI-enabled future. This paradox highlights the transitional phase in which businesses find themselves as they navigate the new landscape shaped by AI.
Cross-Industry Partnership Dinner: Fostering Innovation through Collaboration
Silicon Foundry and Kearney FFWD hosted another dinner at Zuma, spotlighting cross-industry partnerships. This dinner saw 35 innovators engaging in spirited conversations about the importance of collaborative innovation. A highlight was the insightful contributions from Eric Feunteun and others, underscoring the significance of innovative partnership models. Software Republique, led by Eric from the Renault Group, was showcased as a prime example of how ecosystems can scale effectively, offering mutual benefits for all partners. This approach to corporate venturing, as reflected by Software Republic, emphasizes how the future of innovation lies in strategic partnerships among large corporations and deeper engagement with the startup-venture capital ecosystem.
Leaders across industry gather around the table to discuss innovative partnerships
- Startups, The New Vanguard of Corporate Innovation: The dialogue emphasized the growing role of startups in corporate innovation. With a slew of collaborations, investments, and acquisitions, startups are becoming integral to the innovation strategies of larger corporations. This trend marks a significant shift in the corporate landscape, where startups are no longer mere disruptors but key partners in driving innovation forward.
- A Shift in Corporate Mindset, Embracing Risk and Venturing: A notable shift in corporate mindset towards venturing activities was also a key topic of discussion. Traditionally risk-averse corporates are increasingly exploring corporate venture capital pursuits where outcomes and paths are uncertain, signifying a willingness to pivot and adapt in the rapidly evolving business environment.
Breakfast Roundtables w/ Michigan Lt. Governor
In a testament to the power of collaborative discourse, Silicon Foundry co-hosted two intimate breakfast roundtables at CES with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), the Office of Future Mobility & Electrification and a curated ensemble of corporate executives, startups, and investors. These private gatherings provided an unparalleled opportunity for direct engagement with Justine Johnson, Michigan’s Chief Mobility Officer, Quentin Messer Jr., CEO of MEDC, and Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II.
The roundtables focused on two critical areas of future mobility technologies: Advanced Aerial Mobility and Cleantech’s impact on Logistics & Distribution. These discussions were not just about exploring current trends but also about shaping the future direction of these burgeoning sectors and the role the State of Michigan will play in facilitating this world.
Taking Flight: The Future of Advanced Aerial Mobility
The Advanced Aerial Mobility (AAM) Roundtable highlighted the challenges and opportunities in this emerging space. A key concern is the limited environments available for companies to test and deploy their technologies. The discussion brought to light the need for investment in real-world deployments to bridge the gap between testing and commercial scalability in the AAM space. Detroit’s Advanced Aerial Innovation Region is an initiative that will position Michigan as a leader in next-generation aerial mobility and drone technology, designed to attract innovative startups, generate high-skill job opportunities, shape forward-thinking policies, and accelerate the commercialization and widespread use of drone technology.
SiF Principal, Eli Promisel, and Aerial Mobility startups participating in the discussion
Freight Forward: Cleantech’s Impact on Logistics & Distribution
The focus then shifted to the Cleantech Freight Forward Roundtable, where the emphasis was on increasing visibility and awareness among VCs about Michigan’s mobility startup ecosystem. The roundtable underscored the importance of educating tradespeople to ensure a skilled talent pipeline, crucial for the energy transition and infrastructure development. The discussion highlighted Michigan’s collaborative efforts with cleantech companies, underlining the state’s ambition to be a frontrunner in cleantech innovation. For example, Michigan, alongside Daimler Truck North America and DTE Energy, announced a Truck Stop of the Future initiative to provide companies with a platform for testing innovative technologies, digital services, and business models, aimed at facilitating large-scale deployment of commercial EVs.
CES 2024: Themes and Takeaways
- AI and Software Lead the Way: At CES 2024, AI and software were undoubtedly at the forefront, marking a significant evolution from prototypes to tangible, market-ready products. The dominance of software in various sectors underscores the increasing integration of technology in everyday life.
- The Hype Around AI: AI, at its peak hype, is increasingly being directed towards purpose-driven use-cases, trained with existing client data. This shift towards practical and ethical applications of AI is shaping the future trajectory of technology.
- Asian Influence and European Challenges: A notable presence from Asian countries, especially Japan and Korea, contrasted with a weaker performance from Europe. This disparity highlights the shifting dynamics in global technological leadership and innovation.
- The Rapid Pace of Change and the Role of Ecosystems: Traditional companies are grappling with the rapid pace of change. Ecosystems are emerging as key enablers, accelerating the adoption of new technologies and facilitating innovation.
- Business Model Innovation and Monetization Challenges: Business model innovation is becoming increasingly relevant. Companies are striving to balance optimizing their core business while exploring new opportunities. A significant challenge remains in monetizing these innovations effectively.
- The Rise of Small AI Models and Retail Tech: The trend towards smaller, more specialized AI models is gaining momentum, driven by efficiency and focus. Retail tech, as showcased by Walmart’s keynote, is at the forefront of integrating AI across various functions, setting a benchmark for others in the industry.
- The Importance of Diversification and Deep Industry Knowledge: For companies to stay competitive, diversification is key. To be effective advisors in this landscape, a deep understanding of industry trends, consumer behavior, technology, and venture capital flows is essential.
- Scaling Up Business Initiatives: Many organizations face the challenge of scaling new business initiatives. As trusted advisors, there is an opportunity to guide them through this critical phase of growth.
- Emerging Trends in Mobility Tech: In the automotive sector, connectivity, autonomous technology, and electrification are pivotal. Asian players are taking significant strides, highlighting a gap with European counterparts. Augmented Reality is also making a comeback in the automotive industry, offering new opportunities for innovation.
- Navigating the Tech Jungle: For automotive players, navigating the technological landscape and adopting the right partnering models is more crucial than ever. This approach will be instrumental in leveraging emerging technologies and staying competitive.
Engaging with the Future
As we reflect on the insights from CES 2024, it’s clear that the landscape of AI, mobility, and innovation is rapidly evolving. Whether you’re a corporate executive, startup founder, and/or VC/PE investor, and you’re interested in discussing emerging technologies, corporate innovation, and the startup-venture ecosystem, please feel free to reach out to Eli Promisel at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s shape the future together.