Business Mission to Paris: 22 – 25 May 2018

French President Emmanuel Macron, who is seen as a young and dynamic leader with business experience, has created a 10 billion Euro (S$16 billion) fund for innovation and research in France. Mr Macron’s initiatives to transform the country to a “start-up nation” has drawn the attention of Singapore tech firms and start-ups.

To capitalise on this French tech revolution and interest from Singapore’s tech start-ups, ACE, together with Enterprise Singapore, lead a select group of 15 Singapore tech start-ups on a Business Mission to Paris from 22-25 May 2018, and participated in the French innovation conference, Viva Technology (Vivatech).

One of these 15 Singapore tech start-ups was healthcare tech start-up Jaga-Me. “Over the past two years there has been a notable change in terms of the interest and excitement about star-tups among traditional French corporates,” said Julian Koo, co-founder and CEO of Jaga-Me.

“The challenges faced by health systems internationally are similar, hence there is value we can bring from having proven our model with healthcare institutions in Singapore,” he said, as he sees France as a viable launch pad to the European Union.

Another start-up blazing the way for Singapore firms to gain a foothold in France is robotics and artificial intelligence start-up H3 Dynamics. Although founded in Singapore, it’s CEO, Taras Wankewycz is French and has a renewed interest in France.

“As a Singapore company we want to become more integrated with the French tech ecosystem. We’re using France as a base to expand into other parts of Europe, as well as the Middle East.” he stated, adding that H3 is starting to grow its team in both France and Singapore.

Jaga-Me and H3 Dynamics formed part of the Singapore delegation of 40 people, which had a total of 15 start-ups. Special meetings with key representatives from organisations such as Hello Tomorrow, AXA Innovation, Paris Region Enterprise, Thales and Bpi France were arranged for the start-ups to gain a better understanding of market access and innovation collaborations in France.

The largest physical manifestation of the French start-up revolution is Station F. Touted as the largest start-up campus in the world, it is a project bankrolled by telecommunications billionaire Xavier Niel and supported by former president of France, Francois Hollande. The Singapore delegation gained special access and was awed by the former train station that boasts 34,000sqm of space, over 3000 desks in the start-up zone, 26 international start-up programs and a 12 million Euro (S$19million) Play-doh sculpture by Jeff Koons.

If you were to wine and dine in France, you should make sure it is French wine. The Singapore delegation had the privilege of being hosted to dinner by Ambassador Zainal, Singapore’s Ambassador to France, who welcomed the Singapore Delegation in Paris on 22 May 2018. Minister for Communications and Information & Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations, Mr S Iswaran was also present to network with the Singapore Delegation on this occasion.

The face of a dynamic France, President Emmanuel Macron and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg were star-speakers at Viva Technology 2018. Viva Technology gathers the world’s major players in digital transformation and innovation to Paris. Into its 3rd year, Vivatech was buzzing with many exciting showcases and talks.

The Singapore delegation had the opportunity to participate at Vivatech and were also part of a Singapore Conference which was part of the larger Vivatech conference. The Singapore Conference at Vivatech highlighted the collaboration between Singapore and France in the areas of innovation and market access, with Minister for Communications and Information & Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations, Mr S Iswaran opening the session with a keynote address. This exchange of ideas is part of the France-Singapore Year of Innovation, which is a declaration by both France and Singapore to intensify cooperation in innovation.

Through the session, French organisations learned more on the AI scene in Singapore and how Singapore is a launchpad for start-ups in the Asian regional market. At the panel discussion on the “Spotlight on Going Global Through Cross Boarder Innovations and Building Connected Ecosystems in Asia” , ACE Deputy Chairman James Tan shared how Singapore is a great launch pad for start-ups looking to internationalise. ACE Executive Director Edmas Neo moderated this panel which consisted of other distinguished speakers such as Taras Wankewycz, Group Founder & CEO, H3 Dynamics, Jean Michel Serre, Director Orange Open Innovation Asia and CEO, Orange Japan, Fabien Cabirol, APAC Director of Business Development, L’Oréal Research & Innovation, Harris Chan, Chief Digital Officer & Deputy Chief Technology Officer, ST Engineering. The Singapore start-ups also showcased their solutions to the French organisations present at the conference and networked with them for potential collaboration.

ACE would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to Enterprise Singapore for successfully co-organising this Singapore Business Mission, and SGInnovate and L’Oreal for their strong support and partnership for the Singapore Conference at VivaTech. We would also like to thank all start-ups, delegates and partners for making this a fruitful and eye-opening business mission for all!