Hello Tomorrow: a breath of fresh innovation
Over two days at the end of October 2017, the Hello Tomorrow Global Summit brought the cream of the world’s innovation to Paris, from start-ups and major groups. A partner to the event from its beginnings, Michelin attended as co-sponsor of Transport & Mobility the theme with Aéroports de Paris, a great opportunity to meet the driving forces in the start-up ecosystem who will be at the forefront of tomorrow’s technological advances.
Hello Tomorrow visitors and participants could easily find the Michelin space at the event, but the objective was not to showcase our latest innovations. Michelin was there quite simply to observe, listen, discuss and share our interests.
The 2017 edition offered a wealth of new materials. We could mention biomimetics inspired by nature with for example “Bolthreads”, a start-up that manufactures synthetic “spider silk”. Industry 4.0 was also under the spotlight with, as its star, a factory lever arm that is both mobile and capable of raising heavy loads in complete safety. But beyond these examples, this summit was above all the opportunity to examine how start-ups function.
The work pace in a group like ours is very different from that of a start-up. Working together inevitably generates shared frustrations; the large group must respect internal processes like purchasing, legal, etc. and that obviously has an effect on the time it takes to make a decision. A start-up must constantly reinvent itself with its market to survive, within a very restrictive financial framework. For us, Hello Tomorrow helps better understand our differences as we can take the time to discover the operating methods and challenges within this ecosystem. It is a positive experience which will make working together in the future much easier!
Three questions for
Matthieu van der Elst, Venture Capital Director – Michelin
What do you take away from the 2017 edition? What were the major trends that stood out from the rest?
I was struck by the importance of artificial intelligence (AI). Whatever the type of projects or activities, AI was at the heart of every debate with concrete cases from start-ups who are already seizing this exciting opportunity. Hello Tomorrow is a melting pot for start-ups who are often very innovative but equally often still in their infancy. Having said that, everything moves very fast as is always the case with digital technology and what seems to be in the distant future tends to appear quickly on the market. It’s up to us to support that.
Do you have a favorite to share with us?
If I only had to mention one, it would be the NEXT Future Transportation project (http://www.next-future-mobility.com) which won the Mobility Award from the jury I was on. For me, it perfectly represents the DNA of Hello Tomorrow... The trailblazing nature of the event, with projects that are often very off-the-wall. But not just pipe-dreams...as the NEXT project will soon be tested in Dubai, in early 2018. For mobility, there are many innovative projects involving AI, in particular Parquery to optimize car park use, and Kompas (www.kompasapp.com/), a collaborative map and app where users can add their favorite hidden spots in cities. There were also many projects based around sustainability, like this little box called Cgon (www.cgon.co.uk/) which can inject hydrogen to improve the efficiency and reduce the emissions of any combustion engine. Finally, I remember one conference in particular with Stuart Russell from Berkeley University about AI. Remarkably informative about the huge changes on the horizon!
How is an event like Hello Tomorrow involved in Michelin’s innovation strategy?
Taking part in Hello Tomorrow, along with other events like VivaTech or CES, helps us acclimatize to a world which is rapidly changing and seize concrete business dynamics. With the Incubator Program Office which organizes our participation at the event, we can detect weak signals and discover future technologies upstream. For me, it provides insights into how Venture Capital structures of other groups which had a significant presence at this event (Airbus, Renault, Solva, ADP, etc.) are investing in tomorrow’s mobility. The participation of Michelin’s Venture Capital in Investor Day prior to the event’s official two days was also an opportunity for me to meet an impressive number of start-ups face to face. Understanding who the most financed start-ups are today helps us identify those who are the most likely to be around and affect our business in the future!
NEXT Future Transportation, Inc.