Highlights from the Lift Basel Conference 2015

For two days, the Markthalle in Basel was the place to be. The Lift Basel Conference took place in this iconic location. The editorial content was great, the speakers came with very inspiring talks. But that’s what you’d expect from the Lift team right? Here are a few highlights.

Scary and Mind-blowing.

The first talk was quite scary I must say. Being more on the green side, I’m always very suspicious when I hear someone come and try to sell me Genetically Modified Organisms. “GMOs are great, GMO’s are the future, Farmers love GMO”Rob Carlson left me with a daunting vision of the future where cows produce plastic and robot dogs do harvest crops. Yikes. But where he must be right is the immense (and exponentially growing) potential of this market. Check his presentation here.

On replacing Sugar

But GMOs could also have a good side. Neil Goldsmith wants to fight obesity (and make a lot of money on the way) by making a better stevia. Why did stevia not replace sugar altogether as of today? It has a bad bitter taste when used in a to big percentage and is expensive to produce (Good to know: In the Coca Cola Life only 30% of the sugar has been replaced by stevia).

Currently sugar is a 70 billions industry… per year. Imagine, replacing all of this with artificially grown (and patented) stevia. Then you understand why Neil and his company Evolva have created a new variation of Stevia.

Google Cardboard for Labs

There is that guy who made a virtual reality lab. You can manipulate costly tools and play around safely with dangerous products. For 10$ your can play with a Salmonella bacteria, from your couch. It’s Labster!

Cutting bones à la Star Wars

Your surgeon slicing your bones in complex shapes with laser seems to be the way to go. One publication years ago made it almost impossible to do any research on surgery with laser. At that time, the reported results where so bad no one could find any financing anymore for the years to come. This situation seems resolved and Philippe C. Cattin is now working on a super precise surgeon laser. Carlo Magnus (yes, it’s the name of their robot) is described better in this article.

Euthanasia wearable ?!*#

And then comes Estelle Harry with her very disturbing project. A wearable that lets you decide when you want to die. This comes with some interesting/disturbing UX questions. What happens when I press the button? Should the poison get injected right away? Should it set a counter with a cancel option? Should you be able to post it on Facebook? Should your relative get alerted?

The slides

Often at presentations and conferences with presenters without a communication background, the slides are ugly. But I was surprised by the nice visuals all along those 2 days. Clean and simple. I was wondering if the Lift Team did some cleaning upfront?

The Markthalle…


Ok, I will say it. I don’t like the Markthalle. It’s noisy, smelly and not really cozy. I think also for the conference it was not optimal too since the participants were mixed with regular visitors. I didn’t get that “family” feeling I had at the same conference in Geneva. But I guess there was no other good option?

A last quote

“Why is Airbnb not owned by the persons who rent out their apartments?”  Ernst Hafen

Yeah, why aren’t Uber, Airbnb or Blabla Car completely owned but those who use them to provide service to the consumer? That would be a real sharing society.

The photos are from Lift

Yann Graf
I am an experienced Digital Strategy Consultant based in Switzerland. After over seven year respectfully crafting and improving the digital presence of Terre des hommes, Nautilus and G-Star Raw, I am now a freelancer. Please have a look at my Portfolio