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  • Thierry Spanjaard

Is France changing?

Viva Technology, a major technology show, happened last week in Paris. For its second occurrence, the event succeeded in showcasing 6,000 startups to a public made of a combination of investors, technology companies, students, executives and even families … all in all over 60,000 visitors.

The event is probably iconic of the ongoing changes in France. The new president declared: “France is becoming the nation for startups and must succeed in this challenge”. The companies that participated in Viva Technology are probably the best incarnation of these changes. Bringing together in Paris speakers like Daniel Zhang (Alibaba Group), Eric Schmidt (Alphabet), John Collison (Stripe), SY Lau (Tencent) or Carlo Ratti (MIT Senseable city Lab), along with the more established Bernard Arnault (LVMH) or Paul Eremenko (Airbus) will trigger new vocations among potential start uppers.

The most visible topics this year were robotics, virtual reality and AI along with everything relating to games and gambling. Many large companies, administrations, regions, etc. played their role in organizing large booths on which startups could present what they propose.

Exhibitors were able to demonstrate their creativity in proposing new concepts, projects and products. While France is generally recognized for its higher education system, the country is still lacking entrepreneurial spirit, and even more funds ready to be invested into startups. A fertile ground for startups need a combination of education, entrepreneurship and funding along with favorable working conditions. The French environment is moving, and is favored at the same time by the international events that make Europe always more attractive as a place to live and develop a business. Of course, out of the multiple startups that were present at Vivatech, not all will survive nor succeed. But, may be we have just seen the Google or Facebook of tomorrow!

The technologies we cover here in Smart Insights Weekly were also very present at VivaTech: IoT was at the core of multiple startup projects, and there was numerous FinTechs. Of course, everyone takes for granted that a broadband network is available everywhere at any time. Communication, payment, identity, and security are now part of fully available resources to all application developers. This is maybe the best success for our industry: it has become invisible. We are now seen as a resource, just like air, water or electricity.

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