Thursday, March 23, 2023

Why France is betting on deep tech instead of the metaverse

Continued on:

Deep tech, or technology based on scientific research and discoveries, is taking up more space at major innovation conferences such as VivaTech, to be held in Paris until June 18. In France, this approach is considered particularly relevant to the problems of the 21st century. With pandemics and climate change increasing – and the country hopes to play a serious role in this growing sector.

It seems to contradict Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse. Instead of cute avatars in a virtual world of fun and discovery, deep tech gives the impression of being more serious, complex, and elusive to the average Facebook user. At the VivaTech for Technological Innovation and Startups taking place in Paris until June 18th, the Metaverse is on everyone’s lips. But a stroll down the aisles reveals startups with more obscure names like GenoSkin, Natif and Preligence — all from the deep tech world.

“This year, you can even filter these types of startups on the VivaTech website. A few years ago it was unimaginable!” That’s the claim of Alizzi Blanchin, strategy director for Hello Tomorrow, a global network of deep tech startups.

In fact, the lack of visibility of this branch of technology is partly due to the ambiguity surrounding the term. Deep tech, or deep technology, refers to innovations resulting from scientific research that find their way into commercial products or services.

The impact of the pandemic on deep tech

Yet the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that this technology is not abstract or difficult to understand. “Vaccines can be brought to market in a year, when it would have taken about a decade before, because of deep technology,” says Blanchin. Moderna and BioNTech were able to use research in artificial intelligence applied to medicine to speed the development of the molecules needed to combat SARS-CoV-2.

In this context, it is not surprising that many deep tech startups are focusing on the health sector. At Vivatek, he straddles the stands of France’s National Center of Scientific Research (CNRS) and the National Institute for Research in Digital Science and Technology (Inaria), joining major pharmaceutical companies such as Sanofi, which has sponsored a group of startups. participated together. help.

France could benefit from having no US deep tech giants

Even before the pandemic, France had bet on deep tech. In 2019, President Emmanuel Macron announced a massive €2.5 billion plan over five years to help launch 500 French deep tech startups every year from 2025.

The government believes that France has two advantages that could enable their success in this area: research and a deep industrial network. “France has cutting-edge research and a strong industrial tradition, which means that despite outsourcing, there is still a real sense of the savior,” says Blanchin. Unlike smartphone applications, innovations in deep tech often require products to be built in. Factory – for example, building materials with better insulation.

Another advantage for France is that unlike the Big Tech giants that dominate the worldwide information technology industry, an American deep tech giant has yet to emerge – leaving room for French startups to grow.

The ambition of the country is starting to pay off. In 2021, there was a 30% increase in deep tech startups compared to 2020. In January 2022, Exotech, maker of warehouse robots, became the first deep tech startup to join France’s exclusive club of 25 “unicorns”: tech companies worth more than a billion euros. The government aims to see the emergence of 10 deep tech unicorns by 2025.

In addition to health, the agri-food industry is also receiving the attention of deep technology. “The move toward alternative protein products has inspired many scientific entrepreneurs,” explains Blanchin. “They are working on a replacement for red meat in our diet, whether it’s seaweed, worms or lab-grown steak.”

“The conflict in Ukraine has also shown the geopolitical interest in innovating in the energy sector to end our energy dependence,” says the startup expert.

Scientists can still use help with pitching

However, deep technology still remains less attractive among investors than fintech (innovation in finance), the metaverse and new smartphone applications. “The sector accounts for only 10% of the tech investment in France,” says Blanchin.

Why the reluctance? “For European investors, deep technology is often a gamble. These innovations require significant investment from the start so that it takes a long time to produce results. Furthermore, deep technology often attempts to cause real disruption, Which can be riskier than an application that, for example, improves a certain aspect of the online customer experience,” explains the expert.

In addition, many scientists have not yet mastered the skill of conveying their ideas to investors. “It’s difficult for them to integrate into the business culture, and researchers need more training to help them with that,” says Blanchin. They have also developed a consulting business to better connect researchers to the business world.

The craze surrounding Zuckerberg’s metaverse doesn’t help matters, and Blanchin admits that “it undeniably splits available funding”. Yet unlike many deep tech startups, these virtual words don’t try to solve the major problems plaguing our society today.

This article has been translated from the original into French.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
Nation World News is the fastest emerging news website covering all the latest news, world’s top stories, science news entertainment sports cricket’s latest discoveries, new technology gadgets, politics news, and more.
Latest news
Related news