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Next big thing and megatrends: Interview with Sascha Pallenberg, chief awareness officer for aware_

Judy Lin, DIGITIMES, Taipei 0

Sascha Pallenberg, CAO of aware_, and former head of digitalization of Daimler AG.

Taiwan is well known as an ICT hardware manufacturing hub, taking the leading positions in the electronic manufacturing services (EMS) and wafer foundry services. However, many of the brilliant innovations initiated by Taiwanese companies did not get their deserved recognition probably because they are too humble to take the credit, said Sascha Pallenberg, chief awareness officer for Germany's first sustainability platform aware_.

Pallenberg named VIA Technologies as the first pioneer of small form-factor structure and opened a new trend for performance per watt low-power consumption design. And HTC was starting the innovation of doing the first Compaq PDA, and first Windows/Android mobile phone, way before the iPhone.

Pallenberg and Google Taiwan's managing director of sales & operations Tina Lin will jointly participate in the Asia Venturing VI fireside talk, "Is Asia Leading Innovation," which is scheduled to be held at 8:00-9:30 am Tuesday 14th December Taipei time/4:00-5:30 pm Monday 13th December PDT (SF/LA/Seatle). Anchor Taiwan founder and CEO Elisa Chiu will be the moderator/interviewer of the event.

"Without Taiwan and the innovation started in the late 70s or early 80s here, the world would look different in terms of how personal computing became mainstream," said Pallenberg. "The innovation in semiconductor done here in Taiwan also could have accelerated the transition from analog to digital."

Taiwan's semiconductor industry, which suddenly got global attention due to the chip crunch induced by COVID-19, is highly innovative, with TSMC leading the pack. Pallenberg attributed the strength of companies in Taiwan to the extremely intense competition, which also applies to the automobile industry in Germany, where Daimler Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Porche, and Audi are constantly monitoring what the other rivals are doing.

As one of the most influential bloggers and journalists in the area of mobile computing, Pallenberg is way ahead of the era when he talked about the advantage of low power consumption systems such as an embedded architecture can bring in a Computex Forum in 2002.

The Next Big Thing

What are the areas that tech companies in Taiwan can continue to contribute to the world by advancing innovations?

"In this decade, we will see a change towards that the revenue of services and software is going to outgrow the revenue of the platform itself," said Pallenberg, indicating that Software as a Service (SaaS) will continue to see innovations in the next few years.

The next big thing is the climate crisis, which is more challenging than the current crisis but will also bring many opportunities for people who are ready for it. "We are in a climate crisis right now. And now we need to come together to make sure that the climate crisis is not turning into climate catastrophe," said Pallenberg, who emphasized that the world is not in in the time of climate change because the climate has changed already. Many people have suffered tremendous losses in out-of-scale floods, drought, wildfires, and storms over the past few years.

Many major car manufacturers have announced plans to become net carbon emission neutral, including Daimler Mercedes Benz, which wants to become climate neutral through the whole supply chain with 2,000 suppliers by 2039. "How do they do that? They would replace the ones which do not have plans to cut carbon emissions with those that have." Pallenberg pointed out that supply chain companies no matter on which vertical better start monitoring their carbon footprints, analyze and act to provide sound records to prove they have reduced carbon emissions.

Meanwhile, many companies have recognized that the circular economy is the foundation of becoming climate neutral throughout the entire value chain. "Mercedes Benz is working on a platform that aims to be 95% recyclable by the end of this decade," Pallenberg stressed that the process of recycling starts right at the beginning of designing and developing a new product, not at the end of the life cycle.

Five megatrends to stretch the boundaries of technologies

Renewable energy, food technology, e-mobility, metaverse, and medicine are the five megatrends that Pallenberg sees that would push the boundary of technologies through innovations.

With e-mobility comes innovations with batteries, an area that many companies have devoted huge resources into research and development. Nevertheless, Pallenberg opined that hydrogen will be the mainstream for long-haul, heavy transportations, such as airplanes, trains, and trucks, as the battery would be too heavy and just cannot sustain the business model of the long-distance travel and logistic industries.

Pallenberg stressed that metaverse is not new, for fantasy massively multiplayer online role-playing game Ultima Online is already an immersive world with an economy of its own, and it doesn't require goggles. He felt that the experience of VR/AR transporting people's minds to interact with people in other places of the world, needs to be strengthened by content, and there are still not many such things to make many people want to purchase devices for that experience. During the COVID lockdown, people are already experiencing a "distributed remote working metaverse." Pallenberg believes there will be a business metaverse created for professional day-to-day use besides the gaming scenario that most people are predicting for the metaverse's first adoption.

Food tech to provide alternative proteins is already very popular, and there are blockchains to verify the place of origin, while many countries are investing in vertical farming to secure food supplies. Artificial intelligence (AI), drone, and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies are being applied to farming to save manpower and adjust the planting environment to optimize yield. "People need to pay more attention to the circular economy of food to prevent waste of food. Meanwhile, innovations in the food supply chains are also important, because packaging, shipping, production, all require resources, and would produce waste or pollution, said Pallenberg.

In the medical sector, medicine has always been a huge driver of innovation and the adoption of new technologies. To be able to come up with vaccines over the last 18 months of the COVID pandemic, is the most amazing example of what human beings are capable of doing, said Pallenberg. "And this shows you what is achievable if we come together to work on the big problems and big challenges, such as climate crisis and net-zero."


Sascha Pallenberg is a German tech blogger and consultant living in Taipei. He was named as one of the NEXT 100 Top Influencers of the European Digital Industry in 2013. During four consecutive years in 2010-2013, Sascha won the Top 20 Smart Mobile Device Pundit Award for the most influential bloggers and journalists in the area of mobile computing. Sascha won the "Golden Blogger" award in 2015 for being the blogger of the year in Germany before he joined the corporate communication team at Daimler AG in February of 2017 as the head of digital transformation.

Since 2021 he's been chief awareness officer for aware_, Germany's first sustainability platform, and helps industries during their sustainable transformation processes.

(Editor's note: Asia Venturing is a series of monthly roundtables with roadmaps to the future focusing on the hype v.s. the reality of Asia's supply chain-boosted innovation ecosystem, jointly powered by Anchor Taiwan and DIGITIMES. We bring together leading industry luminaries, corporate strategists, experienced investors, and entrepreneurs to expand your network and redefine the possibilities of cross-border opportunities. The replay of the latest session can be seen on Anchor Taiwan or DIGITIMES)

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