We attended Viva Technology in Paris last week, one of Europe’s largest tech conferences. We were impressed at how much this conference continues to scale up, attracting global thought leaders and strong government support. Over 1,000 startups from around the world attended the event taking part in a Startup Battlefield hosted by TechCrunch and other competitions. 

Technologies attracting the most interest at the conference included AI, IoT, drones, robots and (VR/AR) virtual and augmented reality. We at Seraphim Capital view Space as a key enabler of big data/AI and Digital Transformation. New and lower-cost smallsat constellations are creating a new digital data infrastructure in the sky, providing an explosion of new data and ubiquitous connectivity.  This is critical for mobile devices such as drones, robots and IoT and will drive higher broadband adoption for new applications.

Here are some of the views on technology trends and digital transformation from top business and government leaders from the conference.

  • French President Macron wants France to be a startup nation. French startups raised $2.9 billion last year. That’s three times as much as in 2015. Ahead of Viva Tech, 50 tech CEOs came to Paris to meet with Macron on “tech for good”. Almost all CAC 40 corporates have their own venture arms to stay on top of competition.
  • Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft wants Paris to be Microsoft’s AI hub for Europe. He has seen massive AI breakthrough since 2016 as all perception capability (objective recognition, speech, language translation) through AI has reached human parity. He invites developers to leverage their AI to create new applications.
  • Dara Khorsrowshahi, CEO of Uber announced that it will open its first research center outside North America in Paris, where it will invest $24 million to develop its autonomous flying taxi technology. They are very focused on defining “Urban Mobility” going forward, which includes self-driving cars and flying taxis.
  • Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook thinks Paris has great tech talent. Facebook started an AI center in Paris 3 years ago, and now Paris is the Facebook’s biggest AI research hub in Europe. He is optimistic about AI and what it could mean for everything from curing diseases to keeping communities safe. He agrees with Elon Musk that AI could save thousands of lives each year when used in self-driving cars.