In the heart of the country that invented the word “entrepreneur”, VivaTech, one of the largest startup events in Europe, kicked off last Thursday, welcoming more than 100,000 visitors from over 100 countries.
There were many developments on show that have great potential in East Asia – particularly in two hot technology fields - but the right approach and speed to market are vital.
French President Emmanuel Macron took to the main stage on the first day, promoting France as a “startup nation”, while around 2,000 startups showcased their products and services in the halls of Porte de Versailles.
Supported by the open innovation activities of the global tech giants including Google, Facebook, Amazon and Huawei, as well as traditional French corporations like LVMH, Renault, Thales and La Poste, the startups at VivaTech were given a chance to pitch and network their way through the exhibition halls and 450 speaker sessions.
Amongst everything on show, two big technology areas stood out with clear relevance to markets in China, Japan and South Korea – Tech4Good and Artificial Intelligence.
Tech4Good was the leitmotif of this year’s event and the focus of many speaker sessions. Starting with a powerful message by Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma about the positive impact of tech on the world, the expo presented a great opportunity to get acquainted with the latest sustainable tech for a brighter, greener future.
A few common topics in this field included:
- App development encouraging responsible consumption and recycling
- Solutions for CO2 emission monitoring and waste reduction
- Easy-to-deploy, affordable renewable solutions for biomass and hydrogen energy
- “Inclusive” services for people with physical disabilities
Africa, an honored guest at this year’s event with over 160 startups present, stood out in the agritech and food-tech sectors, with many startups offering solutions for African farmers to predict yield, increase net incomes and lead better lives.
Globally, interest in such sustainable technologies, often backed by local authorities and reinforced by the scarceness of resources, continues to grow. In particular, biomass fuel and waste recycling in China have been strongly encouraged by the government and, while the sector is expected to grow, innovative technologies of the kind on show at VivaTech are needed to help increase margins and overall operational efficiency.
Artificial Intelligence (AI), in one form or another, was widely present at this year’s VivaTech. Chatbots and RPAs, computer vision, solutions smart mobility and industrial IoT - particularly for defect inspection and predictive maintenance - abounded.
Among the hottest topics were VR and AR. Whether it was for an enhanced retail experience, more efficient stock management, autonomous driving / flying or simply for better sleep, augmented or completely virtual reality seemed even more present than ever at VivaTech this year.
AI remains one of the areas of greatest interest to corporations in East Asia, and the demand for AI-backed tech still exceeds the supply of market-ready solutions. Japanese companies, in particular, are in need of efficient and easy-to-deploy solutions to optimise workflow and enable new product development – especially in fields such as autonomous vehicles - and are on a constant lookout for “perfect match” partnerships with innovative European startups.
Intralink client Sigfox presents at the Wemanity booth
Vive la technologie!
Although startups from mainland Europe still lag behind their North American counterparts in terms of growth and expansion capabilities, VivaTech has proven it’s not due to a lack of originality and fresh ideas.
We believe many of the showcased solutions have strong potential to succeed in East Asia – but, in the context of strong competition, it’s crucial to act fast.
If you’re ready to make the move, be sure to reach out.