Last week we had the opportunity to participate in VivaTech, a conference and expo that showcases and connects startups with a community of business leaders, investors, press, and partnership opportunities. As a part of this ecosystem, we exhibited under the umbrella of our partner SAP.iO, along with 23 other SAP partners. SAP.iO's mission is to help drive startups and entrepreneurs to growth and scale, and its mission dovetails perfectly with that of the event.
One of the biggest events of its kind, VivaTech is a place where schools highlight their talented students enterprises, large multinationals showcase their innovative technology partners, and regions and countries can highlight their investments in different tech sectors. Whether your interests are Fintech, Retail, Smart Cities, or Agriculture, you'll find a startup that's thinking differently about what the future of their sector looks like.
Another huge highlight of the event is the keynote speakers who have included everyone from French Presidents, to business leaders the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and Bernard Arnault. This year's roster didn't disappoint with Alibaba's Jack Ma, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. Each leader had an opportunity to talk about how they think about disruption and the future of tech, not just in France but globally.
In fact, the topic of how European startups can grow to the scale of some of their Western and Eastern counterparts was at the heart of the conference, as this Quartz analysis handily summed up, "The reasons why Europe’s tech players are lagging behind are well known: The continent remains fragmented, with differing rules and licensing from one (small) nation to another. Another big factor is money. Growth capital in Europe, while improving, is nowhere near as plentiful as in America." French President Macron, in his keynote, diplomatically put the challenge as such, "Europe could become a tech leader by 'building a tech ecosystem that is compatible with democracy.'" While both regional and global socio-political headwinds are posing unprecedented obstacles to making this a reality, it also tells us now is the time to work the hardest to achieve these goals.
If events like VivaTech are to give us any insight, it's that a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship is thriving in France and beyond, and we can't wait to see who rises to the challenge.