With the end of 2020, I recap what this year has been about, mostly the pandemic one could say. Challenges and difficult times were predominant this year. But also, the beginning of something great, the start of a new class at the CDTM. By the start of August, the teaching experience at the CDTM had changed. With the pandemic, in-person meetings, blackboards overflowing with post-it notes and, table soccer games during breaks had to be replaced with video calls, original virtual backgrounds and, of course, memes (more of this coming soon). From the beginning of the pandemic, the CDTM had done what it does best. It had digitally transformed.

The traditional in-person Kickoff weekend had to be replaced by a virtual one. However, CDTM was already well versed in how to make the most out of virtual meetings. A couple of days before their first day, all 27 new students received a welcome package thanks to Plantura and the CDTM People Ops Task Force. 

Welcome package for the Fall 2020 class. Essentials such as a branded CDTM mask and an onion could not be missing.

Memorable stories, conversations and toasts happened through our virtual Kickoff. It left us wanting to start right away with our Trend Seminar. Our wish was soon fulfilled, the first day arrived. Following the tradition, Center Assistants purposefully hide from the new class the project partner and topic of the Trend Seminar. Therefore, our class remained clueless on what project or industry we would be working for the next seven weeks.

The revelation came as a surprise to all of us. Mainly because of the direct impact that the industry had in all of our lives. During the Kickoff weekend, we came up with wild guesses out of the clues we could get. However, none of them came even close to the magnitude of the industry we were about to tackle – independent living for the elderly. All of us knew someone that would be affected by our work. It triggered the feeling that we could have an impact and change people’s lives for the better. How can we empower older people through technology? What can people do to prepare for an independent aging? What will elderly living look like in 20 years from now? We were to tackle these questions and more – we were ready.

Our project partner, alley, represented by Dr. Anne Latz were experts in the healthcare field. As an app to accompany people with complex diseases through their sometimes cumbersome treatment path, alley was at the forefront of innovation for healthcare and value based managed care – we were in good company.

Ahead of us were seven weeks of intense research, group work, and input lectures  prepared to convert us into experts of the field. First, in the basic phase, we would be split into teams to identify trends and current developments in areas ranging from emerging business models to technology. Then, in the scenario phase, we would identify the most important drivers. This would allow us to define a scenario matrix with four different outcomes representing the outlook of the independent living for the elderly in 2040. Lastly, the ideation phase would follow. Throughout basic and scenario phase, we would build industry knowledge, identifying problems and challenges that would serve as inspiration for the ideation phase. In this last phase, we were to develop new business ideas that would be resilient to the different outcomes identified during the scenario phase.

The Trend Seminar continued. The pandemic had allowed Europe to take a break and enjoy the summer. The sun shined intensely allowing parks to be full of people sharing their newly re-gained freedom after dark months. We would meet in small groups to work together or watch input lectures following the COVID-19 restrictions. As soon as there was some free time, we would meet up to go for lunch, play volleyball in the park or go hiking.

By the end of the Trend Seminar, we had answered many of the questions that were initially posed to us. We had found how technology would play a role in the life of the future elderly, how societal changes could foster new business opportunities or how a future pandemic would affect the life of the elderly. After hours of ideation, we produced +200 business ideas from which we elaborated a shortlist of 25 ideas, and selected five in the midterm presentation presenting them to our project partner. The Trend Seminar had been an incredible and intense journey in which we became experts of the elderly market. But equally important, we had got to know each other, bonded as a class and joined a community that will shape not only our future but hopefully the world.

If you are curious about our findings during our Trend Seminar, you can replay our final presentation here. Also, stay tuned for the final Trend Seminar report which will cover in detail all the findings of the Fall 2020 class regarding independent living for the elderly. Follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook to be kept in the loop.


The first day of the Trend Seminar was held in a hybrid manner and followed the hygiene rules.

Lots of virtual meetings, but always with a smile.

Some from Fall 2020 did age a bit during the Trend Seminar…

Lots of uncoordinated Yoga sessions (we are working on it).

Team Lunches in the park.

Some spontaneous dabbers within the CA team. I promised that memes were coming!