By Bruno Meyer, Manager of Business Development at Réseau de Transport d’Électricité
Hello Tomorrow is a global initiative which aims to accelerate the transfer of breakthrough technologies into real world solutions. This year the organization’s Global Summit was held in Paris, France at Le Centquarte on October 26-27. The choice of France reflects the overall climate of innovation spreading through France nowadays, epitomized by the label “French Tech”.
This two day event gathered influences from Airbus, Renault, L’Oréal, Engie, Michelin, Merck, Solvay as well as 75 deep tech startups which competed across several categories for funding.
IEEE Entrepreneurship attended the summit to conduct its IEEE N3XT® Star competition to select innovative start-ups, with potential development, but with a mission aligns with the spirit of IEEE.
I was asked to be one of the three judges to interview 9 different start-ups. From electric airplanes to data driven beekeeping, from identification of methane leaks using micro-satellites to bacteria detection in water using new laser techniques, the spectrum of applications was wide. So were the origins of the companies competing, from South Korea to the UK, from Bulgaria to Russia or the USA.
It is a challenge to judge the potential of a project after a 15 minute pitch. What is the context of the company? What makes it special? Which competition? How could it grow had it more funds available? And to what extent is it related to the activities of the IEEE?
For me, it was a thrilling experience. I am used to judging projects and companies, including start-ups, after a thorough examination of strategy and business plan. However, at Hello Tomorrow, the participants only had 15 minutes to deliver the best pitch possible.
What did I bring back from the experience? Worldwide, there are young professionals who are eager to start new businesses, using new ideas or techniques. Ready to earn “frugal wages” for many years, as one of the competitors put it, in order to turn an idea into a product and a company. What a wave of optimism these new stems bring with them!
The IEEE, by following this lead, can play a key role in fostering new ideas and technology for the advance of humanity.