At the heart of the Porte de Versailles, the famous VivaTech fair returns from Wednesday 15 to Saturday 18 June. On the agenda: new innovations, conferences, meetings and workshops around the European and global tech ecosystem. To find out what awaits you, 20 minutes met its general manager, Julie Ranty.
What can you expect from this new edition of VivaTech?
It’s our big comeback after two rather complicated years. With the health crisis, we had to cancel the 2020 edition and in 2021 we had to respect a benchmark to limit the spread of Covid-19. This time we expect a very large format from VivaTech with 45,000 m2, or the entire hall 1 at the Porte de Versailles. We expect around 2,000 exhibitors, including 1,800 start-ups. It will also be the meeting of 350 speakers and more than 300 innovations presented. This VivaTech will also be a meeting with interesting figures, such as Audrey Azoulay, the director-general of Unesco and about thirty very large start-ups, mostly European unicorns such as Checkout or Vinted. †
Every year, the Vivatech show lets you discover the great innovations of tomorrow. What are the latest technological feats?
At VivaTech, our vision for technology is to present innovations that serve a purpose. It must meet the great challenges of our century, namely the environment and diversity. We have many innovations that meet the challenges of decarbonisation, preserving our oceans and the planet in general. One of the most notable is undoubtedly the CNRS project Carboneo, which makes it possible to capture the carbon in the air and convert it into a raw material in industry. We also present innovations that some have never shown to the public before. For example, there will be two flying electric vehicles, produced by Volocity and Jetson, that predict the future of mobility in cities and that will be put into service in 2024 on the occasion of the Olympic Games.
Six themes are highlighted – carbon neutrality, mobility, the future of work, inclusion, web3 and the metaverse, European companies – with innovations surrounding it. Why did you choose these themes and not others?
The themes of environment, diversity and inclusion have been Vivatech’s commitment since its inception. We have always wanted to put technology at the service of good causes, because we are convinced that technology brings solutions. These are both the invention of new materials that will replace plastic and new forms of mobility that use electricity or hydrogen. There are also more current topics, such as Web3. We couldn’t miss it.
Right, the Web3, the quantum or the metaverse are important current trends, but will the general public really grab them? Wasn’t this just a topic made by tech players for tech players?
It is important to remember that this is a professional event that opens its doors to the general public. We therefore bring the most beautiful innovations together for a professional audience, but we decide to lift the veil over individuals to benefit as many people as possible. We do this, for example, with Web3. Our goal is to decipher the phenomenon, understand its uses and concrete applications. The same goes for NFTs. We want to initiate the general public using educational formats with playful ways of learning.
NFTs are all the rage, but do innovations make it possible to move beyond the art market?
For example, we find them in luxury, where they help brands reinvent customer relationships. By assigning someone an NFT, we bring that person into a fairly closed community, to whom we give privileges. But at VivaTech we will also present examples on environmental issues and the conservation of the oceans. For example, we have an innovation called Aquaverse, which issues NFTs and allows their holders to act on the policies of a company that develops sea sponge cultures and filters the oceans.
You are also in favor of mobility, a topic much discussed during the health crisis. Have we noticed upheavals in the ecosystem in this area?
In terms of mobility, there is quite a phenomenal acceleration of electric, which also reflects a law just passed on Thursday banning the sale of thermal vehicles from 2035. There is clearly an evolution in usage and technology. It will be at Vivatech with preview reveals, for example Audi’s first 100% electric and autonomous model. More original forms of mobility are coming, for example with a Japanese innovation called Poimo, which presents an inflatable vehicle that fits in a backpack and can become an electric scooter in a few seconds. It completely reinvents the way to travel around the city.
Inclusion in tech is also part of the program, but the environment is lagging far behind the place of women. How are we doing today to make up for this delay?
Our goal is to highlight the most female role models in tech. For this we wanted to respect a minimum quota of 40% speakers in our various organized events. It is important to show examples of women who have succeeded in encouraging vocations in technology. We also want to give young girls the desire to learn to code, by setting up courses. Finally, for those who have already started their business, we try to support them as best we can, especially in fundraising. We know that not only are there not enough women setting up their start-ups – that’s only 10% – but they also raise much less money than men. We at VivaTech are committed to helping them meet more investors.
The pandemic and then the war in Russia have made us aware of our international interdependence. Is European technology on the right track to break out?
From the beginning, we have been committed to bring forward European digital champions, to grow more and more start-ups to this scale. Over the past six years we have seen an acceleration of the European tech ecosystem, which has become largely structured. There used to be only three unicorns. They are 26 today. We now have real French digital champions in all areas, be it mobility with Blablacar, health with Doctolib or entertainment with Deezer. We can promote these French companies more and more internationally.