INTERNATIONAL - The third edition of French tech conference VivaTech saw tech bosses, startups, and innovators converge in Paris this week.
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Speakers at the three-day summit, which is one of the biggest tech events in Europe, included Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, as well as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
In case you missed it, here’s a round-up of what was the summit’s biggest edition yet:
For the first time ever in Viva Tech’s three-year history, the summit featured a dedicated zone for African startups. But, the focus on African innovation did not end there. French President Emmanuel Macron announced that the French government through its French Development Agency would launch a R900-million investment programme for African startups.
“And the French Development Agency is going to announce in the coming weeks a new specific programme of €65 million in order to invest small amounts, €30 000 to €50 000 per startup,” Macron said on Thursday.
Zuckerberg spoke about community oriented governance, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and how Facebook aims to fight bad content
In one of the most anticipated talks at the conference, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company is hiring 20 000 people, as well as investing in artificial intelligence (AI) to “proactively” deal with bad content.
Zuckerberg also touched on GDPR during the fireside chat with Publicis Groupe chairman, and co-founder Maurice Levy. He said the company has “always shared” the values enshrined in the new privacy rules which came into force today (25 May).
Although he cautioned users that deleting their data and clearing their history might potentially affect their news feed ranking, he acknowledged that doing so is “a decision that people should be able to make”.
He also shared plans of a “court of appeals” that would be made up of people who understand Facebook’s policies, and principles. Under this “community oriented governance”, he said, Facebook users who have content pulled down would be able to challenge the decision.
South African innovation shined in Paris
Two South African startups emerged victors at the summit. The first, Johannesburg-based artificial intelligence company Vizibiliti Insight which won R72 000 (€5 000) for coming first place in the Verizon challenge.
The startup which was founded in 2016 by CEO Courtney Bentley pitched an alternative credit scoring solution.
The Sun Exchange, a solar and blockchain startup that sells users solar cells, and helps buyers earn cryptocurrency by leasing the equipment to schools and businesses, won the AFD Energy Blockchain challenge.
In addition, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies led a delegation that included 13 South African startups to exhibit at the summit where South Africa had its own pavilion.
“It’s obviously becoming a very significant global showcase for technology and technology companies, but also the focus on Africa, and the focus on startups is very significant for us,” said Davies.
Media exposure and involvement in the conference has played a significant role this year for the African Startup ecosystem and is critical to its continued growth. Caitlin Nash, Managing Partner of www.theloudhailer.org and Africa Innovation reporter at VivaTech commented, “We are passionate and dedicated to telling the African innovation story and it’s the focus of our business to partner with global media houses an to have a consistent platform for authentic African storytelling.
Startupbootcamp (SBC) Africa revealed it had received over 1000 applications for this year’s edition of its tech accelerator programme
During a talk in which he called for media exposure for African innovation, SBC Africa co-founder and chief investment officer Zachariah George revealed that the Cape Town-based accelerator -- which launched last year -- had received over 1000 applications to join its second cohort which kicks off in August .
VivaTech announced a partnership with AfricArena
On Friday, Viva Tech announced it was partnering with African tech conference AfricArena.
The partnership will see the two tech conferences collaborate to connect and support entrepreneurs. In addition, the two are set to launch a joint innovation challenge aimed at innovation focused on the African continent.
“The prize is sponsored by French President Macron’s Presidential Council for Africa, and consists of providing the winning startup with support through a network to access capital, or funding, and market access particularly in France,” said AfricArena founder Christophe Viarnaud.
Winners of the challenge will pitch at AfricArena, which will be held on 15, and 16 November in Cape Town.
AfricArena also held a pitch competition at the VivaTech which was won by Cedric Atangana CEO and co-founder of universal payment platform WeCashUp.
Atangana said winning at VivaTech is the best thing that could happen to an African startup. “There’s a lot of visibility, there’s a lot of credibility, and we need more of that,” he said.
Blockchain, robots, and flying cars
On show at VivaTech was an assortment of new tech ranging from a flying water car made by French company Seabubbles, Airbus’PopUp flying taxi, to a bevy of domestic robots, including one made by Partnering Robotics that cleans the air and reports on air quality by roving around the building.
IBM also showcased how it is using the blockchain to build trust, track provenance and maintain privacy in an interactive coffee bean supply chain.
- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE