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Transforming VivaTech 2023

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In listening to her recently-recorded interview for the Selected podcast, Dava Newman’s description of the emergence and role of “transformative technologies” takes me right back to the atmospheric energy of VivaTech 2023.

The event benchmarked itself in record numbers for both reach and attendance this year, with over 6 billion impressions on social media this year.

Apart from hosting internationally-renowned speakers like Elon Musk & French president Emmanuel Macron, VivaTech’s impressive lineup of 450 notable speakers offered attendees the opportunity to attend tech related talks across three live stages over the course of four days. With one of the hottest topics these days being AI, we have to start asking smarter questions: how can we harness & use this technology responsibly? Will governmental regulation kill innovation? What are the benefits, and what are the risks, for both public life and business?

I was particularly impressed to see that many panel discussions on hot topics in AI were hosted by as many women as men. Noteworthy minds from both academia (such as Françoise Soulié-Fogelman and Sacha Alanoca) as well as enterprise (the likes of Blaise Matuidi and Joëlle Pineau) shared their insights and guiding opinions on both the excitement and the concerns for the use cases of this rapidly emerging technology in business and public life.

From each talk I attended, one resounding opinion was held to be true: we are at the forefront of a new era in our collective history. This is transformative technology, this is a transformative time, and this and regulation is both necessary and encouraged. A fitting commentary, considering that the first day of the event saw the EU’s announcement of an agreed upon draft of the AI Act, a historic milestone towards regulation of this technology.

On the startup side, VivaTech hosted an impressive variety of both already developed companies as well as early-stage to growth phase startups from around the world. Grouped either by continent or sector, exhibitors showcased novel applications of new technologies across three exhibition halls.

From 3D printing chocolate and baked goods by La Patisserie Numerique, to the application of AI in DNA sequencing by Whitelab Genomics and even the fight against food waste by Ryp Labs – there was truly an endless display of true tech innovation across the event.

This year, VivaTech also curated an impressive collection of more than 50 challenges spanning a wide range of verticals, including sustainable development, diversity and inclusion, the future of work, and sport to name a few. The buzz surrounding these challenges resulted in an impressive 4,000 candidates, with a noteworthy 65% of submissions originating from abroad. Honestly, I was amazed at the endlessness of exhibitors stalls from around the world. This truly demonstrates the significant impact VivaTech is making on a global scale.

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