The world’s rendez-vous for technology game-changers returns to Paris for its second year.

VivaTech is where the most innovative startups come together with global leaders to collaborate and celebrate innovation and progress in the tech industry.

Expect the biggest names in tech and startups to chat, network and hack over three unmissable days from 15 – 17 June 2017. On the last day, VivaTech opens its doors to the general public.

This major event, co-organised by Publicis Groupe and Groupe Les Echos, enables startups and big companies to forge meaningful and lasting relationships; to co-innovate and grow their businesses; and be inspired by the most disruptive ideas on the planet.

We spoke with the co-Managing Directors Maxime Baffert and Julie Ranty on what to look out for and their thoughts on Africa’s growing startup space:

This is the second edition of VivaTech – what can we expect?

MB: We have had a lot more interest from more countries from the UK to Germany, Israel, China and the USA. 80 per cent of speakers this year are non-French. Plus, we have added a lot to strengthen the experience for our visitors from our inspiring speakers to the hackathon.

However, we are still keeping the same ethos as last year: the cooperation between startups and large companies and the celebration of innovation from the hall of technology. This is the DNA of VivaTech and what differentiates us from all the other tech events in the world.

JR: The main two things that’ll be different are one, it is far more international this year. People are coming from all over the world. We have a lot more Asian companies. Daniel Zhang, for example from Alibaba and all the gigantic Chinese companies and startups are speaking and attending. That is a great achievement for VivaTech. And secondly, there is going to be even more surprises and happenings inside the event.

There is a hackathon, a concert from The Digitals – a music group that gathers all the French tech stars; and we have a lot of shows and events in the discovery zone from demos to robotics, drones, 3D printers and more all showcased in that area.

Which speakers are you most looking forward to hearing from?

MB: Daniel Zhang, the CEO of Alibaba and John Collinson, CEO of Stripe

JR: I’m looking forward to the women speakers we have. 40 per cent of the speakers this edition are women and that was a big challenge for us to overcome as in this industry only 20 per cent of women head up startups. So we are proud to have someone like Emily Leproust with us. Her work in the synthesis of DNA is very scientific! But very interesting how tech can re-invent science.

We have 50 plus young women entrepreneurs at VivaTech sharing their energy and enthusiasm for starting a company. They are our role models who then inspire others to start up their own companies one day.

VivaTech calls itself the ‘world’s rendez-vous for game changers’ yet there is hardly any representation of African tech companies. Why is that?

MB: We do have some representation at the event. Orange is very strong in Africa and is bringing African startups to VivaTech. We also have partnerships with African incubators and accelerators such as Dictafcorp (Senegal), Jokkosante (Senegal), Medtrucks (Morocco), Drones Africa Service (Niger) and GoMetro (South Africa). It is only our second edition but we are looking forward to strengthening relationships in coming years.

JR: We welcome ideas on how we can further promote the African scene more. It would be great to have more focus on the startup companies from the continent. We have had discussions with four to five African countries and want them to be present for next year’s event.

What are your thoughts on the African tech and startup industry?

MB: I think it is very active and it is very interesting. The industry is not taking the road of other countries and continents. Being primarily driven by mobile technology, a mobile first revolution, makes the latest developments very fascinating.

We are going to see more and more investment in the African countries coming from Europe and USA VCs (venture capitalists). I won’t be surprised to see some very strong startups that are being built in Africa right now.

JR: It is impressive what Africa has done with the mobile industry! It is inspiring to see things like Jumia develop new business models built on the users of Africa and their needs.

Regarding mobile banking and fintech, we should focus on how this type of innovation is done in Africa.

TRUE Africa’s Editor-in-Chief is among the big wigs that will be moderating a panel on ‘Connecting The Unconnected: How can big telcos and startups use technology to connect people with no phone or Internet access?’ With Yan Kwizera, Country Director, nFrnds; Ludovic Centonze, Développement des territoires, RSE Groupe, Orange; and Mamadou Toure, Chairman & CEO, Ubuntu Capital. 16th June 2017 1030 to 1100

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