The DigitalFuture Summit at ESMT Berlin – Who we are, what we do, and how we do it.

Updated: Feb 28

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Every July for the past six years, hundreds of students from around the world have gathered in Berlin, Germany to take part in the DigitalFuture Summit at ESMT Berlin. It’s a two-day conference and networking event that offers highly qualified students and young professionals a chance to connect with business leaders to discuss the intersection of business and technology, and what it means for the future. The first DFS was held in 2017 and was started by ESMT Master's in Management student Benedict Aicher, who wanted to create a completely student-run and student-focused networking event.


“[We didn’t want] yet another event where corporates talk about the latest innovations,” Aicher said about the first DFS. “What we actually want to do is introduce the real digital future. What are the trends to focus on to be successful in your career?”


Talents arrive for the first day of the DFS 2019.

In addition to traditional keynote speeches, talents also experience interactive workshops and masterclasses in smaller groups to practice what they’ve learned and to implement the knowledge into daily life. Some of the most popular workshop topics have been:


  • LinkedIn: How to use LinkedIn to elevate your brand and transform your career.

  • AB InBev Business Game: Untapped potential - Utilizing digital solutions to increase beer sales.

  • Accenture Interactive: Welcome to the era of experience business with Accenture Interactive.

  • High Bridge Management Academy: the leading virtual Consulting boot camp, designed and delivered by a team of 40+ ex-McKinsey, Bain, and BCG consultants with over 100+ years of combined consulting experience, to bring elite interview and consulting skills to young talent.

  • Henkel: The Role of digital technology powered by Henkel dx in the sustainability journey at Henkel.

  • Hubert Burda Media: How to innovate your business model: (Digital) strategies in the media industry.

  • Roche: Personalized Healthcare - What could be the future role of #Digital Humans?

  • Deloitte: Carbon Analytics, focusing on sustainability.


Past corporate partners include Allianz, McKinsey, Accenture Interactive, Google, Pfizer, Coca Cola, SAP, and Henkel, as well as startups like N26 and Gorillas. Each year, the DFS partners with about 30 – 40 companies.


ESMT’s president Jörg Rocholl described the DFS as a flagship event for ESMT and an “Empowering of new thoughts, enabling of new initiatives, and inspiration for the transformation that is needed in digitalization.”



Interactive workshops with industry leaders are a main part of the DFS.

Talents also have the chance to pitch their own ideas in front of an audience of successful investors, founders, and a group of almost 600 international students. Topics for startups participating in the DFS Pitch Competition are the DFS’s six pillars: mobility, technology, information, sustainability, health, and work. Winners receive a monetary prize and support from Vali Berlin, the entrepreneurship hub at ESMT Berlin.


“It was so impressive how they managed to organize not even just the pitch competition, but the whole event really as a hybrid,” said Julie Rosenfeld, co-founder of SENVO and a first-place winner of the 2021 pitch competition. “People were watching us in the auditorium on the big screen while we were on Zoom. Being able to marry those two experiences together was really cool.”


In 2020, the DFS went virtual for the first time due to the pandemic and was still held as a digital event in 2021. For the first time this year, the DFS 2022 will be organized in a hybrid model, allowing for both on-campus and online interaction.


The first DFS in 2017 had 300 participants and expanded to 1,093 participants in 2021. To attend the event, prospective participants must apply online by submitting their CV and answering some short-answer questions. Out of 1431 applications in 2021, 1090 were accepted. This year, even more applicants are expected, so don’t wait to apply. You do not want to miss out on the chance to accelerate your career and to be a part of the conference that revolutionizes the way business interacts with talent.

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