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Panel Recap: Accelerating Startup Innovation with Simulation, HPC, and AI

Simulation, high-performance computing (HPC), and artificial intelligence (AI) are quickly becoming key pillars of any successful business. As technology continues its rapid ascent and as data and information become more prevalent in design and development decisions, organizations need to have the software tools in place that will allow them to succeed in a hyper-digital world – this includes startups. But how can startups maximize their technology and personnel without exceeding budget and manpower limitations? That was the focus of a recent panel Altair hosted in conjunction with TechCrunch, which featured experts specialized in helping startups succeed through groundbreaking – yet democratized – technology. Looking for a quick recap of the panel’s main themes? We’ve got you covered. 

Primarily, there’s no doubting how important startups are to the international business environment. All the experts agreed that startups are beacons of agile innovation that push boundaries and introduce new ways of thinking, doing, and being. As Evelyn Gebhardt, Altair’s vice president of marketing for the European-Middle Eastern region said, “Startups work fast, they’re lean, and they enable bigger, more established companies to make controlled, fruitful investments around new initiatives.” According to Gebhardt, that’s why Altair decided to create its Startup Program. She acknowledged that smaller companies often lack the financial and human resources to access advanced technologies like simulation, HPC, and AI, which can be a massive competitive disadvantage. By offering advanced technologies and personalized service at special rates, Altair can lift startups and help them turn their dreams into deliverables. As she put it, “The best thing a startup can have is an experienced partner at their side that’s willing to share their experience.” 

Ramon Thomas, cofounder and chief executive officer of Urwahn Engineering, knows firsthand how beneficial this can be. Urwahn, which makes bicycles crafted using 3D printing and additive manufacturing technology, benefitted from Altair’s Startup Program. Thomas said that Altair’s technology and expertise have the company access to technical support and specialties that they wouldn’t have otherwise had access to. He said it can be especially difficult for small companies to build relationships with manufacturing and engineering partners, and Altair was crucial in helping Urwahn make connections that would help them succeed. Moreover, Altair’s tools allowed his team to work together in a unified, cohesive environment and develop optimized products that use less material while meeting critical safety and performance standards. 

Beyond specific applications, Jason Williamson, vice president of Oracle’s startups and venture division, spoke about the massive leaps forward cloud computing has taken in the past decade. This, he said, makes it more crucial that startups work to establish resources that will allow them to leverage this technology. Now, he said, even small teams of just two or three people can start seriously leveraging machine learning and AI tools in ways they couldn’t have imagined ten years ago. Moreover, these tools have become easier to use and more expansive, allowing users to do more within applications than ever before. This was a point Gebhardt echoed as well – that technology has made machine learning and AI less expertise-intensive and has democratized access to previously high-level operations.

Finally, Kevin Shinn, Altair’s vice president of industrial design, spoke about how startups shouldn’t get caught up in short-term momentum at the expense of a long-term vision. Though startups must move fast, he also urged the need for patience. “It may seem counterintuitive, but many times startups have to move slow to move fast,” he said. “You don’t want to sacrifice quality and vision, which all help build brand presence and momentum.” In other words, he urged startups not to get too caught up on projects number one and two when the real difference-makers might be projects three, four, and five. Ultimately, he feels it’s vision that separates startups and their ambitions, and the products are an outgrowth and manifestation of that original vision. 

The panelists touched on many more ideas throughout their discussion, including what sectors excite them most, how teams can apply technology on daily basis, how to expand relationships with partners, and much more. To watch the full TechCrunch panel, click here.