In the heart of the Porte de Versailles, the famous VivaTech fair returns from Wednesday 15 to Saturday 18 June. On the program: new innovations, conferences, meetings and workshops on the European and global technological ecosystem. To find out what awaits you, 20 minutes met with its CEO, Julie Ranty.
What to expect from this new edition of VivaTech?
It’s our big comeback after two rather complicated years. With the health emergency we had to cancel the 2020 edition and in 2021 we had to respect a meter to limit the circulation of Covid-19. This time we expect from VivaTech a very large format with 45,000 m2, i.e. the entire hall 1 of the Porte de Versailles. We expect around 2,000 exhibitors, including 1,800 start-ups. It will also be the meeting with 350 speakers and more than 300 novelties presented. This VivaTech will also be the meeting with interesting figures, such as Audrey Azoulay, Director General of Unesco and about thirty huge start-ups, mostly European unicorns such as Checkout or Vinted. “
The Vivatech show allows you to discover the great news of tomorrow every year. What are the latest feats of technology?
At VivaTech, our vision of technology is to present innovations that serve a purpose. It has to face the great challenges of our century, which are the environment and diversity. We have many innovations that address the challenges of decarbonisation, the conservation of our oceans and the planet more generally. One of the most striking is undoubtedly the CNRS project, Carboneo, which allows carbon to be captured in the air and transformed into raw material in industry. We also present innovations that, for some, have never been presented to the public. For example, there will be two flying electric vehicles, produced by Volocity and Jetson, which foreshadow the future of mobility in cities and which will begin to be used in 2024 for the Olympic Games.
Six themes are highlighted – carbon neutrality, mobility, future of work, inclusion, web3 and metaverse, European businesses – with innovations around them. Why did you choose these themes and not others?
The themes of the environment, diversity and inclusion have been Vivatech’s commitment from the very beginning. We have always wanted to put technology at the service of great causes, because we are convinced that technology brings solutions. It involves both the invention of new materials that will replace plastics and new forms of mobility that use electricity or hydrogen. There are also more topical topics, such as Web3. We could not miss it.
Precisely, the Web3, the quantum or the metaverse are the main current trends, but will the general public really get hold of them? Wasn’t it just a topic created 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. So we put together the most beautiful innovations for a professional audience, but we decide to lift the veil on them from individuals for the benefit of as many people as possible. This is what we do with Web3 for example. Our goal is to decipher the phenomenon, understand its uses and concrete applications. It is the same for NFTs. We want to initiate the general public by using educational formats with playful learning modes.
NFTs are all the rage, but do innovations allow you to go beyond the art market?
For example, we can find them in luxury, where they help brands reinvent customer relationships. By assigning an NFT to someone, we bring them into a fairly closed community, to which we give privileges. But at VivaTech we will also present examples on environmental issues and ocean conservation. We have an innovation called Aquaverse, for example, which issues NFTs and allows its holders to act on the policy of a company that develops sea sponge crops and allows oceans to be filtered.
You are also in favor of mobility, a topic that was widely debated during the health crisis. Have we noticed any upheavals in the ecosystem on this subject?
On mobility, there has been a fairly phenomenal acceleration of the electric, which also echoes a law just passed on Thursday that has banned the sale of thermal vehicles since 2035. There is obviously an evolution in uses and technology. It will be at Vivatech with preview revelations, for example the first 100% electric and autonomous model from Audi. There will be more original forms of mobility, for example with a Japanese innovation, called Poimo, which features an inflatable vehicle that fits in a backpack and which in a few seconds can become an electric scooter. Completely reinvent the way of getting around the city.
Inclusion in technology is also part of the program, but the environment still lags far behind women. How are we today to make up for this delay?
Our goal is to bring out the most feminine role models in technology. This is why we wanted to respect a minimum quota of 40% of speakers in our various organized events. It is important to show examples of women who have been successful in technology to encourage vocations. We also want to give girls the desire to learn programming by organizing courses. Finally, for those who have already started their own business, we try to support them in the best possible way, especially in fundraising. We know that not only are there not enough women setting up their startups – they are only 10% – but they also raise far less money than men. We at VivaTech are committed to bringing them together with more investors.
The pandemic, then the war in Russia, made us aware of our international interdependence. Is European technology on the right path to break free?
From the beginning, we have been committed to bringing out European digital champions, to having more and more start-ups climbing this ladder. Over the past six years we have seen an acceleration of the European technology ecosystem, which has become largely structured. Before, there were only three unicorns. Today they are 26 years old. We now have true French digital champions in all sectors, whether in mobility with Blablacar, in health with Doctolib or in entertainment with Deezer. We are increasingly able to promote these French companies internationally.