AI Delegation 2019: berlin.digital goes Paris
Enriching French-German cooperation in Artificial Intelligence in Media and the Creative Economy
After leading successful trade missions for innovators in immersive media and creative sectors, The Marketing Catalysts curated a delegation program this fall (20.-24.10.2019) funded by media:net Berlin-Brandenburg and berlin.digital to connect entrepreneurs and companies from Berlin and Paris as potential collaborators in the field of artificial intelligence. With the delegation taking place just a few days after the announcement of a joint AI strategy between France and Germany, the timing was perfect to take new steps towards a broader pan-European cooperation strategy.
The Global AI Ecosystem
For the European Union, AI presents both a major opportunity and challenge today and in the years to come. While the US is currently the market leader in AI with regard to funding, global reach and the sheer number of homegrown companies in the field, China has secured its position as the global runner-up. Not only is China home to numerous AI startups, but also emerging tech hubs dedicated to supporting its development, along with a pipeline of talent, with thousands of students receiving cutting-edge education in AI annually. In both the US and China, highly developed digital industries, research infrastructure and access to capital make for fertile ground for the rise of this technology. By comparison, the European market remains fragmented. To secure the EU’s place in the emerging global AI ecosystem, inter-european cooperation and collaboration will prove essential. It is against this backdrop that Germany and France are both accelerating their investment and development of AI, albeit with contrasting strategies.
Comparing AI Strategy in Germany and France
As Chancellor Merkel remarked, “Germany can’t say that it is a world leader in artificial intelligence”. Still, the German parliament has not only established its own AI Commission, but also revealed its plans for a €3B investment in AI nationwide by 2025 in November 2018. These developments reflect Germany’s eagerness to start playing an active role in AI as it once did in the 1990s. At this time, German companies such as Siemens, SAP and Bosch were some of the first to make major contributions to AI’s development. Today for most German companies, however, AI is still a dream of the future. According to a study by the Federal Ministry of Economics, just five percent of German companies currently use AI, while only three out of ten companies expect to use the technology over the next ten years.
Meanwhile, France is perceived as a leader in the European landscape. President Macron is one of the most vocal advocates for the nation’s 5 year plan to invest €1.8B into AI. Macron hopes not only for France to become “one of the leaders of AI”, but also to see Europe emerge as “the champion as well”. “We have the means,” the President stated, “and now we have to create the conditions that will enable us to get there ”.
By 2016, France’s education system already offered 18 specialised AI master’s degrees with more than a thousand student places, in 89 engineering schools and 45 universities offering AI-related education. Two years later, the PRAIRIE Institute in Paris was launched with the objective is to become an international leader in the field of AI. The institute unites academic and industrial interests in the field, as a site for collaboration between research leaders such as CNRS, Inria and PSL University, with market leaders including Amazon, Criteo, Facebook, Faurecia, Google, Microsoft, NAVER LABS, Nokia Bell Labs, PSA Group, SUEZ and Valeo. Crucially, France is also working to establish itself as a global leader in AI ethics.
French-German AI Cooperation and the Creative Economy
But France and Germany are not only working independently in this field. The seeds of a joint AI strategy between the two countries is already emerging, with research and development networks and bilateral innovation clusters feeding into a broader pan-European cooperation strategy. The entertainment, media and culture sectors make up one of four major development areas for AI in the EU. In tandem with marketing, advertising, software and content production, the German and French creative economy has a key role to play in transforming Europe into an AI leader.
With this trajectory in mind, a trade mission from the German capital region to Paris and Île-de-France was initiated to achieve the following five goals:
- To explore and gain deeper insights into the French AI ecosystem
- To identify fields of learning and knowledge transfer for AI’s development in Germany
- To discover emerging success cases and promising applications in the French creative economy
- To investigate fields for French-German collaboration on AI-focused projects
- To strengthen trade relations and connect potential joint venture partners.
The 4-day program encompassed visits to both research institutes working with AI and to handpicked companies from the digital media and creative industries in Paris and other areas in France.
The AI Trade Mission Program (20.-24.10.2019)
The trade mission program kicked off with a presentation from national coordinator for France’s AI strategy, Bertrand Pailhès. He gave an overview of the development progress of AI in France, together with Bertrand Braunschweig (INRIA), Fabien Le Voyer (DGE), Gaëlle Pinson (HUB AI France). Rémi Hughes, Thomas Fauvel and Pauline Degaudenzzi from Choose Paris Region also shared insights into their key activities as business and innovation catalysts supporting international companies building their operations in the French capital region.
Delegates also visited MICROSOFT AI FACTORY @ Station F, the world’s largest startup campus, along with its resident startups: Jet Pack Data, a data analytics and visualization platform, Xtramile, an AI-powered recruitment solution, and AB Tasty, a marketing platform for sophisticated A/B testing. After networking over dinner at Train Bleu, delegates spent the following day focusing on AI strategies by major French companies.
FRANCE TV’s Director of Innovation and Future for Media News & Digital Eric Sherer, and Kati Bremme from the broadcaster’s Media Lab shared their efforts for mapping the landscape of AI for media in their recent report. Vincent Luciani and Nikita Mestchersky of ARTEFACT, a marketing company that uses AI-powered data analysis for winning campaigns, shared their learnings from case studies about clients’ needs, as well as their insights into upcoming trends.
Delegates also met Snips, one of the best funded AI start-ups in Europe, who have come a long way since their first product (an iOS app that combined data from different apps to provide a bird’s eye view of the user’s digital life). With a core goal of making machines communicate like humans, Snips develops AI-powered voice assistants that can be implemented in products with maximum user privacy and security. After a final meeting with revolutionary neurotech startup DATAKALAB and their CEO Xavier Fischer, delegates joined the TOTEM meetup at bpiFrance for more networking opportunities and insights into French companies.
Following the trade mission’s tightly-curated two-day program, delegates attended the France is AI conference, an annual event that brings together researchers, entrepreneurs, VCs and executives from the French AI ecosystem to tackle wide challenges facing technological advancement, business models, and social impact. Past editions of the conference saw leaders from Twitter, Huawei, Criteo, Rakuten, Netflix, Facebook and Google take to the conference stage. This year’s edition reflected the immense breadth of AI trends and use cases, from quantum computing to genomics.
The trade mission wrapped up with an intensive pitching and matchmaking session in collaboration with bpiFrance investment bank and Hub France IA, who invited their member companies from large corporates and SMEs and startups, all working at the cutting-edge of AI. During this session participants from the German delegation met potential partners in AI business or technology in the field of AI and had the opportunity to pitch their projects, with a number of concrete business opportunities emerging from the talks.
Trade Mission Organizers
media:net Berlin-Brandenburg is one of the largest and most successful regional networks of the media and digital economy in Germany. The network represents over 450 member companies across multiple branches.
berlin.digital is a new initiative of media:net that seeks to connect small and medium enterprises with startups and digital experts, building foundations for their sustainable collaboration and exchange.
THE MARKETING CATALYSTS boost the development of innovative and creative players working at the intersection of Digital Technologies and Film, Immersive Media, Design, Music & Sound, with a focus on the specific challenges of entering new markets. Drawing on our expertise in these sectors, we also curate and conduct Trade Missions to deepen specifically transatlantic and international ties specific to digital media technologies.
In addition, we work as programmer/presenter/speakers for diverse media & tech conferences such as IFA+Summit, Silbersalz Media & Science, Reeperbahn Festival, VRnow, Cannes NEXT, EFM Horizon, Media Tech Hub, CPH:DOX Cinema : Science, European Film Forum to name a few.
Our new venture THE CREATIVES’ CATALYSTS supports experts and speakers at the intersection of cutting-edge science and technology, from AI, blockchain to IoT & neuroscience, across film, sound and visual art. We help them bring new perspectives to the stage and their vision to a global audience for an inspiring and thought-provoking conference experience.