The cities that come to mind when one thinks of words like innovation, startup, fablab, fintech, greentech, cleantech, or smarttech, are often New York or San Francisco--but rarely Paris. Nevertheless, France, as the world's sixth largest economy and Paris, as a hub for businesses that are mobilizing the sharing economy, is a place where startups are booming and where it is just as likely the next world-changing innovation could come from.
Building a Bridge Across the Atlantic
With this in mind, serial entrepreneur Gaël Duval, launched La French Touch Conference (#LFTC) in 2014 with a goal to bring Paris and New York together and help innovative startups in both cities gain visibility. Now in its third year, the event brings together French and American startups, investors, and inspirational speakers at the AXA center in New York, for motivational talks, workshops, and of course, pitches--with one event, "pitch in the plane," even taking place during an eight-hour flight across the Atlantic. With events running from June 17th through to the 22nd, the conference hopes to amplify the activities of innovative French entrepreneurs and inspire investors attending in New York to dish out the big bucks that could make a groundbreaking initiative a success.
However, in an era where young entrepreneurs are increasingly concentrated on finding profitable ways to have a positive social and environmental impact, there is also another focus at the conference. Sparknews, a Paris-based social enterprise pioneering solutions journalism and bringing visibility to 100 solutions on June 25th during Impact Journalism Day, will take part in LFTC with the goal to shed light on positive innovation. Considering this focus, It's interesting to identify why New York is such an attractive city for entrepreneurs and what positive steps are being taken by its residents to make the city a cleaner and a safer place for to live.
Working to Make New York a Better Place
As the world capital of finance and investment banking, it can't be denied that New York is an incredible place for startups to be. Surrounded by business angels and venture capital funds, it only makes sense that ambitious entrepreneurs would want to set up shop in the concrete jungle. But for entrepreneurs looking to innovate in a world threatened by various environmental challenges, NYC is even more interesting than that.
Since Hurricane Sandy ravaged the five boroughs in 2012, many people in NYC have begun to focus on urban resilience and urban sustainability, and some notable incubators are now concentrated on the development of clean technology. ACRE, run by NYU's Urban Future Lab, and Power Bridge NY, are the city's premier proof-of-concept incubators that aim to promote sustainable urban development. By supporting the emergence of clean-tech projects, like BlocPower, a company that reduces energy use in old buildings, they're speeding up the transition to a more sustainable world. Another initiative, RISE: NYC, is a competition that supports projects using new technologies to protect the city. The organization is working to sustain projects that reduce the impacts of future destructive storms and other effects of climate change, like Go Electric, which can store a building's unused electricity supply overtime and eventually maintain power in an emergency.
As the world moves towards mass urbanization and climate change increases the risk of destructive weather events, we need to develop more solutions to make our cities resilient and sustainable. Luckily, urbanization fosters innovation and with events like La French Touch Conference shedding light on positive innovation in other megalopolises, the growth of innovative start ups could help us protect the cities we live in.
Louis Slade @LCaffarel