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Why we write about this topic:

Looking back is boring if you also have the option to ask a wide range of experts for their expectations. This is what 2023 is going to bring.

For most media, the past weeks were a moment to look back. Not for us, of course; we continue to look forward consistently. The slogan in our first newsroom was “Not What Happened Yesterday, But What’s Relevant Tomorrow”. That’s why we allowed our network to reflect on two questions:

1) what expectation with a high probability of realization do you have – within your field of expertise – for 2023?  

2) what expectation with a low probability of realization do you have, but would you – from that same expertise – fervently wish for it to come true?

Let’s start with a look at the answers to the first question. (The answers to our second question can be read here)

Carmen van Vilsteren has huge worries about our health system. She repeatedly warned about the health infarct that is already taking place. Her prediction:

Greater adoption of technology in healthcare by patients and by healthcare workers, driven by a shortage of healthcare workers.

Carmen van Vilsteren

Maarten Steinbuch focuses on e-mobility.

The structural breakthrough of the e-truck.

Maarten Steinbuch

Carlo van de Weijer, who leads TU Eindhoven’s AI center EAISI but also has a sharp eye for developments around energy and mobility, expects that the hype around hydrogen will be tempered:

By 2023, hydrogen for transportation will definitely be depreciated, even for heavy-duty vehicles.

Carlo van de Weijer

The reasons for this? “Partly because electric buses with 700 kilometers of range will enter the market, and electric trucks will also break through, both by Tesla and traditional brands.”

Let’s move to Vienna.

The current economic and climate crisis leads to a more reflected utilization of resources available to our society.

Univ.-Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dr. Marko Mihovilovic, dean of the Faculty of Chemical Chemistry, TU Vienna

He adds: “I genuinely hope this will be the case. The challenges ahead of us require swift action, but it all starts with changing our attitude and developing a new mindset. Regarding my own discipline, we need to communicate clearly that chemistry is no longer the problem-maker but already a significant contributor to solving the problems ahead – forward green chemistry!”

Maarten van Andel is working for Fontys University of applied science and is one of our columnists. His prediction:

The cabinet is pushing ahead with the construction of two new nuclear power plants at Borssele, extending the life of the current nuclear power plant beyond 2033.

Maarten van Andel

He adds: “Nuclear power is a mature and demonstrably safe CO2-free energy source, contributing to CO2 reduction targets. Moreover, NL is a world leader in nuclear energy (with nuclear power plant and COVRA Borssele, Urenco Almelo, ECN Petten, and NIKHEF Amsterdam), and this strategic knowledge position can only be maintained and strengthened with operational nuclear power plants. This will strengthen our international energy position and reduce our strategic dependence on, e.g., Russia. An additional consideration: We need knowledge and storage of radioactive waste in the Netherlands anyway because of medical isotopes of which ECN Petten is an important international producer. That knowledge and storage are at COVRA in Borssele, integrated with all the safety facilities and know-how that goes with it. For the same money, we also store the compact spent fuel rods from the nuclear power plant there.” 

Katja Pahnke changed jobs at the end of last year. Recently, she became Chief Development Officer at Prodrive Technologies. Her prediction shows this new focus:

By taking good care of our staff, we provide meaningful work, a good work-lifetime balance, and (maintain) mental/physical health.

Katja Pahnke

Buster Franken is the founder of Fruitpunch AI, a start-up with many projects in which artificial intelligence is used for good causes. His usual optimism is somewhat hidden in his prediction for 2023:

Start-ups – and specifically impact start-ups – will have a tough time in 2023, and almost only the profitable ones will survive.

Buster Franken

In the past 6 months, Buster has seen the investment climate change. “Where a ‘seed’ round used to mean you needed some good metrics and then could work toward product-market fit, now you already need PMF if you want to talk about a seed round at all. The type of impact start-ups that will have a less difficult time will all be in climate or health tech. Why? Because the carbon credit market has seen a vast increase in carbon capture start-ups in the past year with the price going up, and more and more health tech start-ups are coming through the approval process. There will also be a surge in recruitment start-ups immediately profiting from bootstrapping.”

Iva Gumnishka (from Bulgaria) is the founder and CEO of Humans in the Loop, a social enterprise that connects conflict-affected communities with digital work opportunities. He was awarded the European Rising Innovators Award in December. Her expectation is the same as ours:

The rise of generative AI models all around us for text, images, videos, etc. All traditional SaaS platforms will start adopting them, similar to Canva, Notion, and so on, which are already using them.

Iva Gumnishka

Back to the Netherlands, where Invest-NL-leader Rinke Zonneveld shares his thoughts about the results of some geopolitical developments:

Given further increasing geopolitical tensions, the importance of a European industrial policy based on strategic autonomy and economic security is becoming ever stronger.

Rinke Zonneveld

He is hopeful, also for his own country: “The Netherlands is finally moving confidently in this direction.”

Bert-Jan Woertman, CEO of Mikrocentrum, also focuses on changes in a geopolitical context:

The importance of collaboration in smart value chains and ecosystems continues to grow.

Bert-Jan Woertman

Why? “The world is changing faster and faster, businesses governments and citizens are faced with complex and unpredictable challenges. To respond to these, it is necessary to keep innovating and renewing, not only technologically, but especially socially. How do we want to live together? National and international. Because of war, climate, and corona – all cross-border problems – these questions and the need for impact innovations are more urgent than ever.”

Someone who, just like Pahnke and Zonneveld, moved to a new job last year, is Daan Kersten. With Include Industries, he is now building his own investment fund for SMEs. His expectations touch upon a need for the high tech industry:

The availability of talent in the (high) tech industry remains limited, leading to further interest and attention in man-poor processes, industrial automation, and robotics.

Daan Kersten

Daan expects that, as part of this trend, additive manufacturing as a manufacturing technology is definitely taking off. “Software and artificial intelligence play the leading role in digitizing the manufacturing industry.”

Arno Sprengers works at one of the most prominent European high-tech manufacturing ecosystem players: ASML. He has been working on sharing knowledge for eight years already, both within his company and outside. His prediction focuses on this initiative, for which he hopes to tear down the walls of competition:

That the sincere cooperation means of sharing knowledge may take off and that the first steps towards a mature Knowledge Sharing Centre may become visible.

Arno Sprengers

“After eight years of showing that this attitude of sharing will bring us the future, we will make this culture change a reality in 2023”, he adds.

Hilde de Vocht is the marketing director at High Tech Campus Eindhoven. She also focuses on sharing knowledge:

Launching a High Tech Campus Academy on Campus with a broad program of education, training and workshops.

Hilde de Vocht

Prof. Dr. Matthias C. Kettemann is a Professor of Innovation, Legal Theory, and Philosophy of Law and leads the Department for Theory and Future of Law at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, where he also leads the Innsbruck Quantum Ethics Lab and the Diversity in Digitality Law Lab. His predictions are about regulatory tools to strip the big tech platforms from their power position.

2023 will see substantial changes in the way big internet companies go about their business: New rules for digital services, digital markets, and their gatekeepers, data, data governance, AI, and media freedom will give users more rights, platforms more obligations, and states more regulatory tools to ensure platforms don’t prioritize their bottom line over public values.

Prof. Dr. Matthias C. Kettemann

Professor Kettemann expects that diversity, a plurality of opinions, and algorithmic recommender systems, optimized more for the public interest, will play a more prominent role in the design of platform orders. “Especially the risk assessments they will need to undertake with a view to the impact of their normative orders and recommender systems on democratic processes, national security, and public health will give regulators and civil society more insight into the content moderation rules and practices. As Elon Musk currently shows, power over online speech should not be left in one person’s hand – the new rules guarantee a more democratic and rule-based online speech order in 2023.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Eugène Franken, chair of EHVXL and an expert in the built environment, offers us a list of predictions within his field of expertise. Top of the list is an expectation that many of us would like to see differently:

Due to price increases, wage increases, and supply uncertainty, housing construction is slowing down.

Eugène Franken

The rest of his list: “Due to a scarcity of commonly used building materials and (components of) installations, less sustainable solutions will be chosen, the construction process will be further juridicized, cities are becoming greener, the race to the tallest building will continue, and the demand for insulation and energy-saving measures such as heat pumps and solar panels due to high energy prices will stimulate sustainability.”

Colinda de Beer is senior business developer horticulture at Innovation Quarter. She expects growth of ‘her’ ecosystem thanks to more government funding:

The final allocation of the growth fund NXTGEN HIGHTECH grants, containing an innovation package for greenhouse horticulture for €52 million for 7 years.

Colinda de Beer

The grant theme will be ‘hands-free growing’, De Beer adds. “It’s an excellent opportunity to accelerate our ecosystem around Robotics and AI.”

Cees-Jan Pen is a professor at the Fontys University of Applied Science and – like Eugène Franken – a specialist in the built environment. He also sees limitations in building activity, but for another reason:

Our soil and natural water systems will become leading in our spatial planning. This will mean that in some lower-lying, vulnerable and scenically valuable areas, construction can no longer take place and the State will intervene here.

Cees-Jan Pen

“The same will happen with the unsustainable planning of business parks and ongoing condemnation. Brabant will notice this emphatically, forcing the province to do more and invest more. I expect the BOM, like Oost NV, to regain a role concerning work locations. The same will have to be said about regional coordination of less desirable functions such as rubble crushers, waste plants, concrete plants, etc., which play a crucial role in many business clusters, especially for the necessary circular transition. This has to be solved regionally; otherwise, there is a threat of a kind of ‘construction freeze’ in the region.”

But there is more, he adds. “Inner cities will transform into greener and more car-free locations, partly due to dire forecasts for the retail industry and the growing need to increase a mix of functionalities in city centers. New resources from the state around sustainability will help solve the housing shortage and the demand for business space.”

Neurocomputer scientist Wolfgang Maass has been conducting research at the Institute for the Foundations of Information Processing at the Graz University of Technology in Austria for 20 years, where he is pursuing a conceptual framework and algorithmic methods for a brain model of the mouse.

The interaction between AI and brain science is going to become stronger, driven both by the need of AI to produce more human-like intelligence, and new experimental methods in neuroscience that make it possible to watch large numbers of neurons in the brain while they compute and learn.

Wolfgang Maass

Heribert Insam is head of the Institute of Microbiology at the University of Innsbruck and researches possibilities for methane recovery in biogas plants. In his prediction, he looks back on COVID-detection and knows that there are better ways than used up to now.

Wastewater-based epidemiology will undoubtedly thrive. The SARS-CoV pandemic has given new impetus to this discipline.

Heribert Insam

He adds: “The molecular tools have now evolved to the degree that will make it easy to surveil other viral and bacterial diseases. This low-cost approach will eventually replace individual-test-based surveillance programs and offer high-resolution information on the spread of diseases, offering options for early responses. “

Olaf Adan is the CEO Cellcius, one of the winners of the eighth edition of the Gerard and Anton Awards. The company has devised an ingenious salt battery to store heat for reuse elsewhere. A very interesting additional piece of the puzzle in our energy issue. His expectation is simple, though ambitious:

Cellcius realizes its first successful prototype for a flexible heat grid at scale.

Olaf Adan

It’s a dream – or a reality-to-be? – everybody would love to come true.

Katja Fröhlich, Thematic Coordinator Sustainable & Smart Battery Manufacturing at the Center for Low-Emission Transport of the Austrian Institute of Technology, obviously also looks at better batteries.

I expect our research within the coordinated BatWoMan project to contribute towards carbon-neutral battery cell production.

Katja Fröhlich

In 2023, she adds, “we focus on realizing water-based, optimized electrodes with the lowest drying needs and significantly reduced energy consumption.” Another wish the whole world would like to see turned into reality.

And now for something completely different… On average, a child wears five diapers a day, accounting for 25 kilograms of waste per month. Disposable diapers are one of the biggest contributors to plastic waste. With Alkyl, Kenya-based Melvin Kizito wants to find a solution to the hundreds of thousands of pounds of diaper waste produced each year.

In 2023, I look forward to significantly improving the technical merits of our chemical treatment technology and developing the most advanced recycling process for absorbent hygiene products.

Melvin Kizito

Kizito emigrated to the Netherlands to turn a business idea into a profitable business. He is now getting support from the Brightlands Chemelot Campus. “for the expertise, partnerships, and engineering support to make this happen”, he adds. “Absorbent Hygiene products such as diapers and sanitary pads are vital for health and well-being. The goal of Alkyl Recycling is to ensure people enjoy the functionality of these products without polluting the environment.”

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Gabriele Berg is the head of the Institute of Environmental Biotechnology at the Graz University of Technology in Austria and head of the Department of Microbiome Biotechnology at the Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy in Potsdam, Germany. She has a dear wish for her academic work:

Development of sustainable microbiome management strategies for one and planetary health

Gabriele Berg

Marie-Odile Zanders, an alumnus at TU Eindhoven, is putting all her effort in fixing one of the major system errors in the Mozambican society. Of the thirty million Mozambicans, only six hundred have a mortgage, she found out. “I reckon that in my own neighborhood here in the Netherlands, more people have a mortgage than in all of Mozambique.” She is head of Partnerships and Development at Empowa, a housing mortgage lender for low- and middle-income Africans. Her prediction:

I expect further evidence in 2023 that lower-income people in Africa can and do pay nicely for a quality home that is also climate-resilient.

Marie-Odile Zanders

The high probability of this prediction comes from her recent experiences. “I have already seen this confirmed with 30 families who entered a rental purchase program in Beira, Mozambique, in mid-2022 where the default rate remained below 1% and people saved 7% of the purchase price of their home in just 4 months. This is extraordinary because the perception is that poor Africans are big defaulters. I look forward to scaling up this program – and the good experiences! – in 2023.” 

Norbert Fraunholcz is working on solvent-based recycling, which allows him to provide higher quality recyclate than with mechanical recycling.

The shortage of high-quality recycled plastic (e.g., suitable to replace virgin plastic in closed-loop applications) will further increase in Europe.

Norbert Fraunholcz

Quantum technologies strive to re-imagine how we store, process, and share information, Assoz. Univprof. Dr. Richard Küng, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Institute for Integrated Circuits says. “2022 has seen several impressive breakthrough results in this field, as well as a well-deserved Physics Nobel prize for three quantum pioneers (Clauser, Aspect, Zeilinger). We have always been striving to unify two complimentary desiderata: hope (can quantum technology really make a difference?) and hype (what are the fundamental guiding problems of our age?). This leads to his expectation:

For 2023, I hope to see new quantum architectures being used to their full potential, as well as a continuation of impressive breakthroughs in quantum error correction; the next milestone goal en route to a fully functional quantum computer.

Richard Küng

Bob van der Meulen is the cofounder of Intense, which focuses on recognising stress and emotions. “We do that by mapping out the typing and mouse behaviour of people.” His prediction is related:

The beginning of the end of the password.

Bob van der Meulen

How so? “You already see more and more organizations using alternative forms of authentication such as (behavioral) biometrics, tokens or temporary codes. Often still in combination with a password, but in time, passwordless authentication will become the new norm. It is often not only more secure, but also more user-friendly.”

We’re looking forward to that, Bob.

Univ.-Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dr.techn. Franz Haas, Dean at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Economics at the TU Graz (Austria) takes a look at his research areas production technology and digital transformation in production:

I expect a real breakthrough in the evaluation of technologies in terms of their sustainability and carbon footprint in 2023.

Franz Haas

We’re not there yet, he adds. “A great deal is written on the subject of ‘Green Transition’, but far too little concrete action is taken. The basis for making the right decision for or against a production process or a particular production plant is to know the impact on the environment related to the entire life cycle of the machine. More needs to be done here to provide decision-makers with a solid basis. An investment offensive in sustainable production not only counteracts the threat of recession, but also creates optimism and competitiveness. A new, correctly dimensioned machine is always an investment in the sustainability of the company.“

Nicolas Lorenzo Zeoli leads Ganiga Innovation, an innovative Start-up that created hoooly!, the smart bin that, through Artificial Intelligence, can automatically recognize the waste and separate it, recycling almost perfectly. His hope for 2023 is that business goes as planned, with more deals and more clients. More broadly:

Even if we started with the target market of municipalities and shopping centers, we might reach clients that we didn’t even think of.

Nicolas Lorenzo Zeoli

Zeoli’s wish is one we see with many of the startups that we portray every day. Believe in the dream, but keep an open mind for an unexpected new market possibility. We wish Lorenzo and all the other founders every bit of unexpected success they may need to grow as a company.