France's international Vivatech fair shows off world pioneers of Web3 frontier

France’s international Vivatech fair shows off world pioneers of Web3 frontier

The annual Vivatech trade fair is underway in Paris until Saturday. Four days of conferences and exchanges around Web3, the new generation of internet technology, touching on innovations such as cryptocurrency, blockchain, NFT, and of course the latest hype known as Metaverse.

In the history of the internet, Web 1.0 was the breakthrough for sharing basic written material online.

Then Web 2.0 pushed further ahead with creativity, multimedia and interaction, with the arrival of social media.

Now, make way for Web3 – the third and latest version of internet – which is THE buzz word for Vivatech 2022 which runs until Saturday at the Porte de Versailles in Paris.

Web3 is more decentralised than its predecessors, and founded on blockchain technology used in non-fungible tokens (NFT) and cryptocurrency.

The blockchain concept, where each transaction has its own unique code, increases security for purchases, improves tracability and curbs counterfeit operations.

New social connections

Metaverse, the latest technology for virtual reality, is the other hot topic at the trade fair.

It is at the heart of the Web3 project, with Meta, (Facebook’s parent company) leading the way with its parallel universe known as Horizon Worlds.

Thanks to the use of special virtual reality headsets, employees can now hold meetings with colleagues from other countries, as if they were standing in the same room.

There are about 120 metaverses that exist so far besides this one, they include Decentraland, and The Sandbox, run by French director Sébastien Borget.

“They are like huge shopping centers with a unique identity and a décor designed to suit the target audience,” Grégoire Pauty from software maker Adobe France told Le Parisien daily.

“This next generation of Internet will allow us to have social connections based on interactive and immersive experiences,” he says.

Meta is also working on letting people create their own virtual worlds where they host gatherings of avatars.

This type of concept has taken off in the gaming industry, and became popular among players of Fortnite and Roblox.

Massive recruitment

Meta is looking to recruit around 10,000 people in Europe over the next five years and France is counting on being on the starting blocks, hoping to capitalise on its development in the educational sector.

Meta and a French digital training firm are planning to launch a “metaverse academy” in several cities across France for the new academic year.

And a school called the Metaverse College is opening up in the Paris’ La Défense business hub in October.

The Grand View Research center estimates that between now and 2030, the global market for the metaverse will be worth around €645 billion.

Alternative energy supply

Among the prestigious guests for Vivatech’s 6th edition; Changpeng Zhao, the head of Binance, a leading crypto currency platform; Ryan Roslansky, head of networking platform LinkedIn, as well as directors from all the large tech companies present on the stock market (LVMH, Renault, Orange, Bouygues) and a host of French start-ups.

Vivatech will also highlight the environment, with companies proposing energy sources from vegetation compost, like Bioo from Spain, or Pentaform from the UK proposing a computer from recycled materials that consumes less energy.

In the transport sector, Tesla will be present to showcase its latest car made in the Gigafactory in Berlin.

There is also the Hyperloop TT pressurized capsules designed by Robert Miller also part of Tesla boss Elon Musk’s projects.

For individual transport, there’s the Jetson drone that can carry a person, and Poimo, and the electric scooter from Japan that can fit inside a backpack.

“Every year we put the focus on a particular kind of technology that we see as interesting and promising. We couldn’t bypass the web3 and metaverse topics with all the discussions they have provoked, as well as the doubts and the disappointments,” says François Bitouzet, who takes over as Vivatech director from Julie Ranty in July.

“We’re inviting everyone to get to the heart of the topic, to experiment and explain so that everyone can form an informed opinion based on where we’re up to after the buzz has died down.”

France slowly catching up

The digital revolution within French companies is making progress, but is slower that elsewhere, Medef business leader Christian Poyau told the press ahead of the Vivatech opening.

“French companies are always a little late generally speaking, especially with regards to Germany,” he says, although the Covid pandemic saw things speed up.

“There are around 200,000 jobs available in France in the digital sector and in the next 5 years, that will increase to more than 300,000,” says Pascale Dumas, co-president of the Medef commission dedicated to digital development.

In order to encourage growth in recruitment, training plans need to be made available not only to job-seekers but also to employees already in companies or those seeking to change sectors, she says.

According to a recent poll by BCG, only 56 percent of French companies were aware that the government was willing to finance new tech training, and only 10 percent have taken advantage of this grant.

And many failed to recruit IT specialists during the Covid crisis and had not adequately updated their software systems.

Vivatech was canceled in 2020 due to Covid and the 2021 edition only allowed a limited number of guests in person and most people participated remotely.

This year, participants can access all the content online as well as in person.

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