We are back from VivaTech, Europe’s annual pilgrimage for tech and innovation lovers. An unmissable event for its international dimension and what it represents in Europe: a showcase and springboard for innovation.
Several members of the Paris Tech practice took their bags, their computers and their legendary joyfulness to go and take the pulse at VivaTech, getting to know the rising startups and following keynotes and conferences delivered by some pretty top-level speakers (including France’s own Emmanuel Macron).
More than 90,000 people on site, 300,000 streamers online, a 4-day long event: the figures are impressive. Several topics emerged with ease: the inevitable Web3, the unavoidable metaverse and the indispensable sustainability were able to take home a piece of the pie. Perhaps too much for the former, probably too little for the latter.
We got the feeling that FrenchTech was in full throttle, demonstrating the strength and vitality of its ecosystem of entrepreneurs. Many B2B companies, more than in past editions, were able to make their way amongst the darlings of the public, the VR headsets, drones and robots.
The stage was set from Day 1 with FrenchTech's announcement of a new Green20 promotion, a support program dedicated to "green" startups. Nearing the end of the event, President Macron announced his new ambition: 100 French unicorns by 2030, including 25 focused on sustainability. France currently has 27 unicorns. Our favorite? Our very own client, Exotec.
Anyway, we wanted to share a few insights from our little adventure.
SPACE IS NOW
For the first time, space was in the spotlight at VivaTech. From micro-gravity research to Space-to-Space vehicles to Spacepharma (yes), the future of space exploration seemed to be writing itself at Porte de Versailles. A priority market today: servicing space stations. And don't tell them space is a thing of billionaires: it is above all “the future of our species that we must prepare”. As was discussed during the Gravity Matters: Developing Space-Based Experimentation conference starring Daniel Campbell (SpacePharma), Nicolas Gaume (Space Cargo Unlimited) and Hélène Huby (The Exploration Company), the challenge of space exploration is also one that’s correlated to being innovative back here, on our own planet : “It's not just about going to Mars but going back to Earth”. Exciting stuff!
URBAN MOBILITY SPEEDS UP
Mobility, unsurprisingly, was very visible at VivaTech. For Lawrence Leuschner, CEO of Tier Mobility, the message is clear: we need more circularity, more partnerships, and more solutions offering freedom of use to all. Regulators must give more opportunities for creative minds to pilot innovative programs, by helping them to deploy their ideas. Each citizen is or must become an ambassador of sustainable mobility. To your bikes, everyone!
WEB 3 4 ALL
For those of you who’ve been living under a rock for the past six months, Web3 is the latest incarnation of the Internet: decentralized, based on blockchain, driven by the metaverse and NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens). And yes, it was all over the place. We liked hearing that blockchain, when you get down to it, is above all else a "property revolution", with a potential that far exceeds Ethereum or Bitcoin, and which will change our daily lives in the coming years. NFTs may seem disliked by many, but a number of Web3 players see a bright future for them, despite what we can hear. Binance was vocal about wanting to be a major voice in the Web3 universe, and is now all about simplifying the crypto user experience. As Asmita Dubey, Chief Digital & Marketing Officer at L’Oréal said, Web3 is the opportunity to rethink the entire concept of marketing. It is time to stop considering the audience as an outsider we want to bring in. The audience has to become the “main character” of the campaign. One word stands out from the debates: res-pon-sa-bi-li-té (French for...well, you guessed it). If Web3 wants to head for democratization, it won’t be without it.
HEALTH FIRST, KIDS
Even if we’re all kind of sick of health topics since the pandemic (get it?), its entrepreneurial ecosystem begs to differ. The healthcare industry is moving towards greater individualization of patients, a priority that ranges from hospital organization to the manufacturing of new drugs or tools. For Claire Biot, VP Life Sciences & Healthcare Industry at Dassault Systems, the use of digital twins will transform the way hospitals operate. By limiting the number of on-site patient visits to facilities, this tool will reduce healthcare costs and improve the way complex surgeries can be performed. Mental health also took a prominent place this year. There has been a real democratization and normalization of conversations around mental wellbeing following Covid. Good news – and what we call a glass half full.
AND WHAT ABOUT THE FUTURE?
We particularly appreciated the keynote with Romain Moulin (CEO of Exotec), Roxanne Varza (Station F) and Charlie Perreau (journalist at Les Echos), amongst others, on the future of technology. With so many fundraising rounds, unicorns popping everywhere and European success stories, should we fear the end of recess time with investments clearly slowing down? Are we heading for a second dot-com bubble? Or can we build on the momentum of recent years? It seems that optimism prevails, with a network of innovators firmly established in France, an ecosystem that helps them grow and good prospects for the coming years...But also, a real political will to encourage innovation and facilitate business creation. France seems to have a big role to play in Europe...Cocorico!
To sum up, VivaTech 2022 succeeded in showing the vitality of European tech, of which Paris is undeniably the capital, and which has matured by moving into new sectors, multiplying partnerships with major groups, and recruiting across the board. While it is regrettable that there was not a more assertive desire to highlight sustainability issues, other essential subjects such as Women In Tech and diversity were addressed more than in recent years. There is still a lot (a LOT) to do, but we had the feeling that the train was moving in the right direction.
We can't wait to go back in 2023!