With 424 projects and nearly 3,000 talented participants from 19 European countries, it's a fine crop of candidates for the 5th EDF Pulse Awards! But who are these pioneers of innovation, some of whom will be winners of the competition? Here is the photo of the class of 2018.
Artificial intelligence is a major part of the 2018 crop
This trend, which began in 2017, has become stronger in 2018. Of the 424 projects presented, 116 involved artificial intelligence; in other words, 27% of candidates. Virtual personal coaches, quantified self, chatbots, and machine learning... this year, AI proved that it goes with everything “smart” with involvement in the four categories of the EDF Pulse Awards: Smart Home (11 projects), Smart City (30 projects), Smart Health & Self (32 projects) and Smart Business (43 projects).
Surprising? Not really. We know that international investors are turning massively towards this kind of technology: between 2015 and 2017, venture capital funding tripled to hit 12 billion dollars*. In addition, we need only look at the major trends in innovation seen at CES 2018 in Las Vegas, especially the multiplicity of voice assistants, the progress of self-driving vehicles and the integration of data into connected objects, to see that AI is everywhere, on every frontier of innovation, including the EDF Pulse Awards!
The Nordic countries gain ground
Candidates for the EDF Pulse Awards largely come from outside France, and this isn’t anything new; in 2017, the number of candidates from the United Kingdom was high. This year, UK start-ups are still well represented, with 24 projects in the running. That said, they’ve found not one but many challengers on their heels, with the entry into the competition of tiny start-ups from the frozen North. Start-ups from Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland are behind at least 25 projects.
This powerful upswing that reflects the dynamism of the Nordic countries, which have been classified among the “champions of innovation” in the 2017 innovation scoreboard maintained by the European Commission. In avant-garde northern Europe, all the conditions for these start-ups to succeed have been met: from government subsidies to simplified processes for creating new businesses, as well as advantageous tax laws and great connectivity. The increase in representation from these start-up friendly countries among EDF Pulse Awards candidates is proof indeed!
The South isn’t to be outdone...
The other standout of the class of 2018: Portugal, with ten projects. This increase in participation is testament to the swarm of activity in the Iberian Peninsula, particularly in Lisbon. After having received the title of “European Entrepreneurial Region of the Year” in 2015, the capital is attracting more and more young entrepreneurs and foreign investors. The last such event: November 2017's Web Summit, which welcomed more than a thousand start-ups, of which 200 were Portuguese. It's a safe bet that the Lisbon start-ups will take up more and more space on the European tech scene, and this is already clear in the candidates for the EDF Pulse Awards! Watch this space...
* Source : KPMG, bellwether for venture capital financing for start-ups, 2017