The Speakers and Startups Who’ll Explore New Frontiers at Pioneers’18

By May 14, 2018February 2nd, 2024No Comments

We’re pleased to announce that Aaron VanDevender will be the first speaker to take to the Arena stage on the opening morning of Pioneers’18 on Thursday May 24th.

He is Chief Scientist and a Principal at Founders Fund, which believes in investing in entrepreneurs pursuing the most ambitious technical challenges. His daily work includes monitoring the scientific impact of the portfolio companies and assessing technologies, making him an ideal candidate to give an opening overview of how to navigate the fuzzy boundaries in our future technical landscape.

VanDevender’s broad scientific interests include energy, biotech, nanotech and computing. Prior to his current role at Founders Fund, the keen researcher co-invented yoctotechnology (named after the smallest unit prefix on the SI scale), patented the fastest transparent optical switch, developed next-generation DNA sequencing tech at Halcyon Molecular and designed single-photon and single-atom quantum computers in academia and government.

Outside of all that, he is also a professional skydiver!

Later on that first morning, attendees at the Hofburg will be able to enjoy Exploration of New Spaces, a discussion on how deep-sea and space exploration technologies can be applied in a broad range of new fields.

The line-up includes Gaelin Rosenwaks, a marine scientist and the founder of Global Ocean Exploration, a company devoted to bringing cutting-edge exploration science to the public. She is also a US Coast Guard Licensed Captain and Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Also represented on the panel will be explorer, scientist and futurist Jonathan Knowles. Currently serving as the Science and Exploration Fellow at Mission Blue, whose mission is to inspire action to explore and protect the ocean, Knowles explores the dynamics of large-scale, long-term change with a focus on beyond-horizon technologies.

The panel will be moderated by Guillermo Söhnlein, an American social entrepreneur with a special interest in the commercialization of outer space, the exploration of the world’s oceans and the universal connections between the two.

We’re also happy to announce the names of the fifty startups we’ve selected to pitch for the Pioneers Challenge Award over the two days at the Hofburg. After a full day of pitching in seven different tracks on the first day of Pioneers’18, the seven track winners plus one wildcard will progress to the Pioneers Challenge Top 8 Finals, which will as always be the pinnacle of the event on Friday evening.

The startups, and the tracks in which they will pitch, are as follows:


FiliGrade, Dotphoton, Timeular, Koruza, HUBBIG, Gustav, Flowtify


Nanomass Corporation, GEAENZYMES, HeatVentors, WoodCube, KITRO; Digi.Bio


Skymatic, GOVWISE, MyMy, Capratio, Combine, CitizenLab,


SzeleSTIM, PocketDefi, Libra@Home, Bisu, PBimmunomics, FreeFlow Medical Devices, meemo-tec, GenSmart, Baze


Ribbon Biolabs, SkaD Labs, recalm, Materialize.X, Batchforce, Skysense, Exomys, Agribot


Hushme, hiMoment, Artivive, Steed Equine Monitoring Solutions, Smokeless, iazzu


RoadBotics, AVILOO, Hyper Poland, EcoG, cycuro, Sono Motors, Pure Watercraft, Embotech

To join our top speakers and hand-picked startups in Vienna next week, buy your tickets for Pioneers’18 here.