Europe's biggest tech show goes ahead in Paris

Maurice Levy  photo: Tamar Matsafi

Vivatech founder Maurice Levy: It was a gamble, but we won. Some 30 Israeli companies are taking part.

In Paris, Vivatech, the annual high tech show for professionals and the general public, is on. The founder and the driving force behind the show, Maurice Levy, CEO of the Publicis Groupe, was determined to make this the first big tech show to reopen its doors in Europe after obvious Covid pandemic constraints forced him and partner Le Groupe Les Echos to cancel the 2020 show. Other major shows in Europe and throughout the world were also obliged to shut down in 2020.

Levy and a team of 60 people came up with a "hybrid event" to meet and beat the Covid constraints that still exist. Staged as in past years at the huge Porte de Versailles hall complex, but in half the space of previous years, the live event has a capacity of 5,000 visitors at any given moment, decided by the French government, with people coming and going for the three B2B days, Wednesday through Friday, and on Saturday, for the general public.

More than 60 percent of some 1,400 exhibitors will reportedly be in that live space at the Porte de Versailles. But the Vivatech crew has developed a continuous 24-hour Web TV stream to cover the events there and elsewhere. With four separate TV studios, they are bringing TV broadcast standards to social media on a digital platform called Vivatech News.

More than 500 tech innovations from around the world will be displayed in showrooms on the digital platform. More than 1,000 sessions with speakers and round tables have been put together, to be broadcast from the live site and from the TV studios.

Two conversations to be broadcasted with Maurice Levy stand out: one with Apple CEO Tim Cook on Wednesday, and the other on Thursday with Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg. Both tech giants will be speaking from the United States presumably.

If there is one theme that the head of Publicis, the third largest advertising group in the world, is more than convinced about, it is that this new normal must feature "tech for good", to contribute to the common good for a more responsible and inclusive society.

Levy told Globes, "I am hoping this Vivatech show and all the technical energy involved in it will be part of the beginning of a more inclusive capitalism worldwide."

Noting that the pandemic has really exacerbated the gap between the haves and the have-nots in many countries in terms of their health, he said, "Certain European countries and perhaps Israel with its kupat-cholim system, have more humane health structures than elsewhere. I hope that Europe can make use of the technology to spread and upgrade these more humane features for the common good."

He added that in many countries people did not believe the show would happen. "This was like a gamble, whether we could do it or not," he said, "and the digital solutions were a major challenge. But it appears that we have won the bet."

Israeli companies are participating, as always, but without the country pavilion of previous years. How many are in Paris for the show is difficult to determine. The prestigious business school, the ESCP, is hosting an evening organised by the Israel France Chamber of Commerce and its president Daniel Rouach. He said that some 30 Israeli companies were registered as participants, either live or on the Web TV.

One guest appearing for the first time at the Chamber of Commerce evening is Professor Mohamed Tahiri, the head of innovation at the University of Casablanca, Morocco. And according to the Chamber website, IsraelValley, eight start-ups from Lebanon are also Vivatech participants, either live or digital.

Who knows? Maybe one day "tech for good" will become "tech for peace".

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on June 15, 2021

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2021

Maurice Levy  photo: Tamar Matsafi
Maurice Levy photo: Tamar Matsafi
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