Day 1 of the Viva Technology conference in Paris, France has arrived. The conference is massive in scale, not CES big, but anyone who’s been understand there’s large parts (sometimes who buildings) at CES that has nothing of value or interest. It seems the areas at VivaTech are zones well and if you care about a particular industry, you can find it quickly and spend plenty of time there talking to amazingly talented people.
If you were in any doubt how popular this conference is, the President of France, Emmanuel Macron will be speaking at 5pm today. For a conference in its second year, that’s seriously impressive.
Walking the show floor at VivaTech, you move from section to section, with startups and established companies as happy neighbours. When I read there was 5,000 starts here, I never really considered the vast differences in motivation to come to a conference like VivaTech.
So are here to seek funding from investors to grow their ideas, or in the case of early stage, to get a prototype to production. Other startups are here simply for the expose, but perhaps the most impressive thing is every one of the startups from last year’s conference are back this year.
Facebook, Google, Cisco, Orange, Airbus and even Tencent are all here at VivaTech this year among many other major corporations. The booths also vary dramatically in purpose, with some providing the opportunity to learn and experience, while others are happy to show off core technology to developers and discuss integrations. Some are simply trying to attract startups to use their platforms and services, hoping to help them build the next big thing.
Over the next 3 days there’s a bunch of sessions from a wide variety of speakers, but I had the chance to drop in on a couple this morning. One of particular interest was the discussion about ‘Voice is the new UI’. Listening to and hearing the Alex Lebrun from Facebook’s AI Research division converse with Yann Lechelle from Snips was incredibly engaging and had a room full of attendees watching on with interest.
It was also great to hear from the founder and CEO of Buzzfeed talk about how he and the company thinks about publishing content to different social networks.
Throughout the show floor, there’s a number of presentation areas. Some of those are used throughout the conference for ‘The Pitch’. This gives startups a couple of minutes to their ideas and creations in front of a panel of judges who respond with questions and constructive criticism.
Wierd and wacky
At every conference, you see the amazing, but there’s also the weird and wacky innovations that leave you scratching your head as to why anyone ever thought that was a good idea. Fortunately there’s not many here, but they are here and worth spending some time on.
My favourite was a rubbish bin that can drive itself to you, rather than be limited to the burden of being bolted to a sidewalk. Rolling around the conference floor, it was certainly drawing attention from the crowd.
At any modern conference you need the essentials down – Power and WiFi. Thankfully it looks like VivaTech has this down with decent WiFi (considering the volume) and plenty of places to recharge your devices. I particularly enjoyed this recharge bar that let you pretend you’re outside, instead of in a massive metal box.
Enough of the words, its often best to tell the story with the photos, so here’s a pretty substantial gallery from the first day at VivaTech’s first day for 2017.