All posts by Nora Guelton

Healthcare, doctors and digital: patients’ diagnosis

Econocom 29 Jan 2015

Communicating via email, making appointments over the Internet, checking medical test results online: patients can’t wait for their doctors to embrace digital technology – according to two American surveys, one by Technology Advice and the other by scientific journal Health Affairs, and reported by Forbes.



Over 60% of patients in the US believe digital services play an important role when choosing a doctor. So what sort of eHealth services are currently on offer? According to Technology Advice’s research, such services exist but aren’t in line with patients’ needs. Priorities for patients are online appointment scheduling, bill-paying and viewing test results, and whilst these services are gradually being developed, they have yet to be universally adopted.



Digital technology for personalised health monitoring

Whilst digital can prove useful in terms of communication and transactions between healthcare professionals and patients, it also offers a unique opportunity to ensure optimal monitoring and follow-up after treatment has been prescribed. And yet less than 20% of the people interviewed for the survey said they currently received such a service from their physician.



And there’s no need for state-of-the-art equipment to offer this type of service: just an email account is enough. In an article in Forbes about the Health Affairs survey, Leah Binder points out the prevailing technophobia in the medical profession: less than 10% of patients are currently able to communicate with their GP via email.



E-mail: a foreign language for the medical profession?



But why communicate via email? According to Binder, this is a reasonable request:  effective communication with patients is one of healthcare’s biggest problems, and patients often feel blinded by medical jargon in a medical environment. “When you are nervously sitting in an examination room wearing a paper johnny, you are not in the best frame of mind to understand a series of complex instructions from your doctor. And the clinical jargon doctors and nurses use might as well be another language. This creates a real problem with healthcare quality.”



Of course, with a fee-for-service payment system, American physicians are reluctant to offer additional services outside the consultation time. Email security is another concern. These reservations urgently need to be addressed so that patients can benefit from the digital service they expect.



Digital for All, Now: fighting to improve patient care.



Photo credits: jfcherry laptop and stethoscope (Flickr / Licence CC by 2.0)

Agnès Jbeily: “Giving the consumer back control of their data“

Agnès Jbeily 26 Jan 2015

Datanoos is a committed startup that plans to turn the personal data market upside down by giving the consumer back control of their data. “Digital for All, Now” also means being able to make informed decisions on how to use data. We met Agnès Jbeily, founder and CEO of Datanoos.



You worked for companies, leaders in Big Data, mobile solutions and IT services, before you launched Datanoos. How did you develop your startup?
When I was in charge of “innovation solutions” for Ingénico, I discovered the world of data and targeted advertising during a conference organised by Criteo. It was a revelation: I got a better idea of what goes on with data, from collection to analysis and monetisation.
The data market concerns both tech giants with billion-euro revenues and startups who make millions. So we decided to break into the market by offering consumers something new: control of their data.




“We decided to break into the market by offering consumers something new: control of their data.”



We got support from the ENSAM (an elite school for engineers, Ed) incubator. I trained as an engineer and I needed new skills, particularly in management and business development. A friend who worked in one of the ENSAM’s research laboratories came on board:  the incubator was the ideal place to start our project, not just in terms of proximity, for the support it gave us.
What’s wrong with the way personal data is managed today?
Giants like Facebook and Google have networking websites or platforms that are ostensibly free but most of them collect our data. These are websites we use every day, it’s difficult to do without them. The problem is we have little or no control over the process or the way these companies use our data. Our platform, on the other hand, is designed with users in mind and ensures greater control and transparency. They can analyse themselves by collecting their own data – thus seeing what sort of data is produced by their online activity – and decide whether or not to monetise it. Where companies are concerned, our platform gives them visibility of active, connected consumption and allows them to target their offerings.




What sort of obstacles did you come across when creating the startup?
The first obstacle was a financial one. Our aim was to set up a platform as quickly as possible. In the beginning we invested a little capital and the banks trusted us. Then we won first prize in a competition to help set up innovative technology companies. But our project requires substantial and long-term investments.



“Founding a startup is also working experience”



There are a number of organisations to support startups when they’re starting up but not many to help them expand in the long term. We’re in a critical phase now: the platform has been developed but it doesn’t have enough users to generate fixed income. So we have to prove our worth in order to get new funding. I think our project was two years ahead of its time: now the market’s ready. So by working tirelessly on the product, so that it appeals to people, gains credibility and gets naturally adopted, we’ll get there.



“So by working tirelessly on the product, so that it appeals to people, gains credibility and gets naturally adopted, we’ll get there.”


The second difficulty was in terms of human resources. When we started out, I had some of the typical faults of someone used to working in a big group where an ambitious idea can be developed easily because you have the right resources. In our case, we needed to hire people, particularly engineers, to do it. And that’s not always easy, especially when you have limited financial resources.
The third problem was in terms of visibility. We try to develop communication strategies to raise our profile, by getting involved in awards, competitions and events. Winning the Excellencia prize (awarded to women in the digital industry in France, Ed) for example, helped put us on the map.


What does a company today need to be agile?
I set up my own company because I didn’t feel at home in large corporations. To set up a startup, you don’t just need to want to create something: it’s also a working experience. I’m very much in favour of new ways of organising companies, especially ones which flatten the hierarchy, encourage autonomy and get people to work towards a common goal – the company’s goal.


What does “Digital for All, Now!” mean to you?
“Digital for All, Now” is a new way of offering hyper-connected services. The mobile revolution is transforming the way we devise and deliver services. Just look at education and healthcare: these industries are on the brink of radical change. Digital technology will allow us to have a 360° vision of symptoms, for example. With the Internet of Things, patients can self-monitor and send the data to a specialist who can then focus on prevention and monitoring. Payment is also being completely transformed and the arrival of new players in this area is revolutionising the banking industry.



Photo credits: System Lock by Yuri Samoilov (Flickr / licence CC by 2.0)

Public sector digitisation: 6 levers to make billions in cost savings

Econocom 19 Jan 2015

Exploiting the full potential of government digitisation could generate up to $1 trillion annually in economic value worldwide, according to a McKinsey report. The report identified the obstacles to this transformation that need to be tackled and gives an overview of the best practices implemented by countries that have successfully made the transition.
Public sector digitisation could result in billions of dollars of cost savings worldwide, through improved cost and operational performance, by implementing shared services, greater collaboration and integration, improved fraud management, and productivity enhancements. With budgetary pressures constantly increasing, governments cannot afford to miss out on making such savings.



Online public services: minimal cost and huge benefits



Over 130 countries currently offer online public services to meet citizen demand for easily-accessible, information, at low or no cost. Considerable progress has been made in this area, particularly in terms of providing access for rural populations, improving quality of life for those with physical infirmities, and offering options for people with work and lifestyle demands that don’t fall within typical daytime office hours.
For example, Estonia’s 1.3 million residents can use electronic identification cards to vote, pay taxes and access more than 160 services online, from unemployment benefits to property registration.
And yet despite the progress made, most governments have yet to capture the full benefits of digitisation. To do so, McKinsey recommends that they take their digital transformations deeper, beyond the provision of online services through e-government portals, into the broader business of government itself.



“Digital for All, Now” in the public sector: the challenges



There are a number of difficulties specific to the public sector, due to additional management issues and longer project implementation timelines than in the private sector, and the challenge of maintaining strategic continuity as political administrations change.
Another issue is that systems and data are owned by different departments and functions, on a range of platforms and with differing taxonomies and access requirements, making it difficult to invest at scale and generate sufficient economies. Similarly, the absence of a central owner for nationwide IT infrastructure and common components can make it hard to create a seamless experience for the end user.
Furthermore, the complexity of large-scale digital projects requires specialised skills and expertise that are costly and often in short supply. Consequently, many e-government efforts fail to deliver the benefits they promise.


The 6 most important levers for digitisation

Despite these challenges, a number of successful government initiatives show that by translating private-sector best practices into the public context it is possible to achieve broader and deeper public-sector digitisation. McKinsey identifies six levers for a successful digitisation:
1.    Win government-wide and agency-deep commitment to specific digital targets
2.    Establish government-wide coordination of IT investments.
3.    Redesign processes with the end user in mind.
4.    Hire and nurture the right talent.
5.    Use big data and analytics to improve decision making.
6.    Protect critical infrastructure and confidential data.




By implementing such measures, governments could generate billions in cost savings. Among others, McKinsey cites the example of one particularly successful digital initiative: the launch of in 2012, one of the most accessible digital government services in the world. According to government estimates, the site saved £42 million (€54 million) in government spending within a year of its launch.




Photo Credits: Doug (Flickr / Licence CC by 2.0)

Sébastien Enderlé: “Cloud computing means being able to consume IT resources on demand“

Sébastien Enderlé 19 Jan 2015

Cloud computing, which involves using external online servers and storage capacities to process or store information, is the hot topic at the moment, particularly in the IT press. But what exactly is it? Sébastien Enderle, CEO of ASP Serveur and digital maker, explains how and why the cloud can be a game-changer for organisations.



In your opinion, what’s a digital maker today?


More than anything it means being an active player in the digital transformation: facilitating access to digital technology and mobility solutions for top-performing companies – so that they can continue to do so!



What’s the potential of cloud computing for organisations today?


The main advantage is substantial cost savings: around 40% of companies’ IT expenditure, according to Gartner and other research firms.


The second major advantage is it allows companies to turn CAPEX into OPEX, i.e. an investment on a fee basis, which is much more advantageous for them.


The third benefit is in terms of agility: companies can reduce or expand their IT resources and adapt the associated costs. For example, a company that works mainly as an online store will see its business peak during the Christmas period, which means it will need additional computing resources at a specific time. Consuming IT on demand, as and when you need, is now possible, thanks to the cloud.



And yet despite this potential, our 2014 Digital Transformation Survey revealed that 46.3% of businesses have no plans to implement a cloud project. How can we bring about this change?


A number of studies show that companies do have reservations about the cloud. Some think the technology isn’t mature enough, possibly due to problems of standards – or rather, a lack thereof – which raises security issues.


There’s also a psychological barrier: companies like to have everything on their own premises, it makes them feel they have better control over their IT assets, although that’s often not the case.



As you pointed out, security is a major concern. How can you reassure people on that point?


By spreading theword: informing people and then developing the resources to demonstrate, via independent bodies or security standards, that cloud computing can be safer than any other platform.


For example, a lot of companies who outsource with us have achieved 99.99% security rates! We have the security levels assessed by independent organisations and we also measure the annual intrusion rates in our systems. The intrusion rate in data centres like ours is zero.


In terms of availability, an essential security-related element, our servers have a 99.998% availability rate – which is another important aspect of our service.



What are the most effective solutions for data protection in the cloud?


Information! Where security issues are concerned, the human factor is often the biggest problem. Most cloud operators now obviously have a number of physical security systems: logical isolation, anti-DDoS (distributed denial-of-service attack:  an attempt to make a machine or network resource unavailable to its users), firewalls and intrusion prevention. But the most important thing is raising awareness of security issues among employees.



There are numerous examples of security leaks; how can we prevent this?


By remembering that IT outsourcing is a specialist profession: you can’t just wing it! Our employees have been trained and are still being trained! So before we roll out any solutions, there’s a consulting phase. We reassure people and explain things, before going into the project phase, then consultant engineers help with change management during the first operational phase.


Guidance and advice is important. Our teams are always available, so our clients have specialist engineers on hand to advise them on changes and future issues and make the right recommendations.



To get the most out of the potential of digital and the cloud, people need to have the technology as early as possible. Should schools be focusing more on the importance of equipment?


I think it’s vital that there is decent teaching and equipment, but that depends to a certain extent on the local education authority. The most important thing is equipment, especially when you look at how far ahead other countries are with this. Luckily, engineering schools in France, and we work with some of them, are very well-equipped and tech-savvy.



What does “Digital for All, Now” mean to you?​


It means understanding that the future of your company’s performance is in the cloud, that this technology is really the way to go as it can improve cost-effectiveness and performance, both of which are strategic.




To find out more: the 2014 digital survey:

Overview and infographic
Infographie directly

Photo credit: Tal ETouch (Flickr, licence CC by 2.0)

Laurent Kocher: “Offering transports users a better service through an open source approach“

Laurent Kocher 19 Jan 2015

Whilst smart city councils are major allies in the digital revolution, they’re not the only driving forces behind smart cities: public transport providers also play a key role. To help us understand the innovations our major cities are currently undergoing, we met Laurent Kocher, Executive Director of Marketing, Innovations and Services at Keolis, a company that specialises in urban mobility solutions. Mind the gap!


How did you come to be such a digital enthusiast?


In my job, I’m convinced that digital is a way to improve public services, particularly where mobility is concerned. It allows us to bring important, real-time information to clients, improve service through the various feedback we get, and conduct very precise analyses of our organisation. But not everyone has access to digital yet. We have a very wide audience, but not all end users have the same habits and patterns of use and we need to take into account these differences. The service needs to be adapted to people, not the other way around.


Companies like Keolis are changing the face of tomorrow’s cities: how would you define a smart city?


We have three distinct types of clients. First there’s our internal agent who’s in contact with the end users of our services. Then there’s the principal: the authority in charge of transport organisation. And then there’s the end client: the user. The autorité organisatrice de transports (transport organisation authority, one of the local government bodies implementing the 1982 law for the organisation of transportation in France, Ed) applies the local, regional or national policy with respect to transport. Keolis, as a service provider, tenders to develop a transport solution for the town in question. Within this ecosystem, it’s the role of the smart city to determine how technologies can facilitate urban progress and improvements. Our solution focuses on transport, but it’s not the only part of the equation. Smart cities are committed to implementing changes – to reduce traffic congestion or for environmental concerns – which are centred on the end user. Sharing information is key, so that end users can get the most out of public transport in towns. If an end user decides not to drive into work one morning, for example, we need to be able to tell them what the best solution is to get from A to B at a given time: ticket, season ticket, app, route, etc.


In your teams, who designs this innovative city of tomorrow? What are your sources of inspiration?


It’s a team effort. We try to create an increasingly horizontal organisation chart to ensure better inter-departmental collaboration, and always with a view to addressing end users’ needs. We then draw up and implement an effective strategy. We have engineers, communicators and marketing specialists who work together. Innovation can only thrive within a decompartmentalised organisation. We work in an open source philosophy, so we share all our ideas and achievements with the community as a whole. The idea is that everyone then appropriates the ideas and improves on them. In Rennes for example, we provide data in an open data rationale that was instigated by the Council. A number of apps resulted from this and we worked with all the city’s digital makers to fine-tune these new services.


What are the biggest digital innovations Keolis has implemented?



I think it would have to be this open innovation approach. We relied heavily on the support of open sourcers to process the incalculable volumes of data from local authorities. We even ran a competition for young startups working on mobility issues in towns. That’s how we were able to display train times in the public transport network. The apps we developed were a huge success – over 40,000 downloads. The information shared can then be useful for other members of the ecosystem, such as estate agents. We also analyse the uses of all connected objects, from smartphones to watches and glasses. These are all potential ways of improving our service and we have to move with the times – but without overlooking the people who don’t yet have this sort of technology.


What does “Digital for All, Now” mean to you?


Everyone needs the right equipment in order to access the right, complete information. And that’s just what digital technology allows you to do!



Photo credits: Waiting, photo de Jens Schott Knudsen (licence CC by 2.0, Flickr)

Frédéric Granotier: “LED is disruptive technology that will soon replace traditional lighting“

Econocom 15 Jan 2015

Lucibel, a leading French designer and manufacturer of light-emitting diode (LED) lighting products, is an example of “hyper-growth”. With operations in 30 countries, the company has quadrupled its revenue in four years.The technological revolution in lighting affects all segments of the market and countries. It’s also another illustration of “Digital for All, Now”. We met Frédéric Granotier, founder and CEO of Lucibel.
You used to work for Poweo, an energy supplier, before you set up Lucibel. How did you develop your startup?
I co-founded Poweo in 2002 and co-ran it until 2009. I got the idea for Lucibel from my experience at Poweo: I wanted to move from production into reducing power consumption, and lighting is a powerful driver for reducing electricity consumption.
Lucibel fulfilled my dream to found a company that is in the virtuous circle of energy efficiency and innovation. We poured our own funds into setting up the company before we looked for venture capital. Lucibel was recently floated on the stock market on Alternext, so we can continue to finance our growth and develop our innovation strategy.



You’re working in the fast-moving energy market which is being transformed by digital technology: how do you keep up?
The lighting world changes very fast: Lucibel owes its existence to the advent of digital in this sector. LED lighting uses 6 to 10 times less electricity and has a useful life 30 times longer than traditional lighting. The global market share of LED is currently around 12%, and is expected to reach 70% to 80% by 2020: that’s a CAGR of 30%.


“LIFI technology will transform the purchasing experience”


What has digital technology brought to lighting?
The light bulb will eventually disappear: LED is disruptive technology that will soon replace it. LEDs are going to be increasingly used directly in lights. And this revolution goes far beyond lighting: it will spread to other value-add areas. In healthcare, for example, it’s brought huge progress for treating conditions such as psoriasis, cancer and Alzheimer’s. LEDs are also used in the beauty and well-being sectors, for example for treating stretch marks, scars and wrinkles.
Our clients are mainly companies, particularly in the retail business where attractive LED lighting can really make a difference and boost revenue. And the potential of this technology doesn’t stop there: LIFI (Light Fidelity) technology will transform the whole purchasing experience. The customer can be precisely located at the store: the store manager will know exactly, in real time, when a customer goes to a particular aisle or department and when they leave, and this information will allow them to target customers and offer them personalised offers that are tailored to their shopping habits.


What could hold back the growth of your business?
Some clients need reassuring. They want to test LED lighting before deploying it. Switching to LED is quite an investment, but the ROI is fast and quite substantial: in just a few months, it pays for itself.


“Making premium products in France allows us to be more responsive and closer to our clients”


You decided to relocate part of your production to France. Why?
Most of our manufacturing is done in Asia. But we did decide to relocate production of our premium product range to Barentin in Normandy. This allows us to be more responsive and closer to our end clients – most of whom are in Europe.


What do companies today need to do to be agile?
In my opinion, agility is the guarantee for success. At Lucibel, our agility is our ability to reinvent the business model and adjust it to market opportunities. We invest substantially in R&D in order to develop new products and file patents.




“The “Digital for All, Now” adventure is only just beginning.”



What does “Digital for All, Now” mean to you?
When you think about it, the speed at which digital has come into our daily lives is amazing. Every aspect of our life is connected now. But that doesn’t mean that there’s no potential for further development – on the contrary. For example, the future of LED will most likely be in healthcare: some LEDs have disinfecting properties and so can be used to kill germs. Just imagine the possibilities …The “Digital for All, Now” adventure is only just beginning.


Photo credits: National gallery of art LED tunnel, by Heidi (Flickr, licence CC by 2.0)

Ludwine Probst: breaking down barriers by learning about the digital culture

Ludwine Probst 12 Jan 2015

A new, inaccessible language, gender prejudices, conservative attitudes to digital: for a young female maths graduate, there are countless obstacles along the path to being a revolutionary. But this didn’t stop Ludwine Probst, winner of the Excellencia prize 2014 (prize awarded to women who have distinguished themselves in the digital industry in France, Ed): if anything, these challenges spurred her on to forge a career and bring about social changes, campaigning to make  the language of the digital revolution accessible to everyone…
In 2010, Ludwine Probst, who had a Masters in mathematics and absolutely no IT experience, was offered a job in a digital company. But instead of being put off by the difficulties, she examined them and looked for solutions:

“People often say Google’s our worst enemy …but if you ask it the right questions, it comes up with brilliant answers!”

Probst then discovered MOOCs, free online courses, such as Openclassrooms and Coursera, and learned the language of tomorrow: computer coding.


As easy as learning a foreign language


But isn’t learning all by yourself difficult? On the contrary, stresses Ludwine Probst: these online forums – like the digital culture as a whole – are ideal for sharing and helping. For Probst, learning IT language is like learning a foreign language:

“IT is open to everyone! Of course it’s not everyone’s thing, but it’s potentially just as easy as learning a language. Once you know the basics, (the syntax and vocabulary), you can do lots.”

But are schools sufficiently equipped? Not always, but you can get round this problem by gradually implementing the right digital tools:


“You can start by learning IT and coding with a pen and paper, then move onto a computer where you can learn other stuff like creating web pages.”

The real issue is not the tools though, it’s exploring a new way to learn and solve problems: “It’s essential to have a new weapon,” says Probst. Another far greater challenge is adapting learning conditions to suit everyone from children to senior citizens – a problem that no amount of online searches can solve. So Ludwine Probst decided to do something about it.


Sharing knowledge: “It’s about breaking down barriers”


As head of Duchess France, Ludwine Probst decided to promote female role models in order to change attitudes. This non-profit organisation allows women in the IT industry to meet and network, with a view to raising their profile in the industry and speaking at conferences.
“At the moment here aren’t many women in the high-tech and IT field and they feel a bit isolated,” said Probst in her acceptance speech for the Excellencia prize, which aims to promote women in the industry. “There are still a number of obstacles,” she went on, whilst clearly asserting her commitment as a digital maker:

“People who are in the digital industry and share their knowledge help to promote the industry, and that’s what breaks down barriers. A number of women are put off pursuing a career in IT for the wrong reasons, so we need to dispel these prejudices.”

By combatting prejudices we can shed a new light on the digital industry and build a fairer society: for being a digital maker isn’t just about rhetoric, it’s about taking action to make changes that benefit everyone. Are you with us?
Photo credits: A computer class at a rural secondary school in La Ceja del Tambo par World Bank Photo Collection (Flickr, Licence CC by 2.0)

Healthcare: “With a tablet in my room, I feel at home“

Econocom 6 Jan 2015

We recently went to Charleroi in French-speaking Belgium, population: 200,000. The town has a state-of-the-art hospital that is a hit with both employees and patients. We went on a tour of this healthcare establishment that has made “Digital for all, Now” its mantra.



We began our visit in the maternity ward, a “laboratory department”. Whilst the snow falls outside, it’s warm and welcoming inside. Everything is brand new: the paintings, the equipment and, most of all, the rooms: ultra-modern, dedicated patient areas boasting last-generation equipment.

“The patient room of the future – we call it the innovative patient room – has a robotic bed that can be put in either reclining or upright position,” says Pierre Jacmin, Director of the hospital’s Technology and IT department. “The bed also features a touch tablet on the end of a mechanical arm whereby the new mothers have access to the Internet, television, telephone and radio. The tablet controls a big flat screen that can be used to communicate with relations via webcam.”

Apart from the cutting-edge equipment, the whole layout of the room has also been designed along modular, ergonomic lines in order to address the needs of connected patients and incorporate any new equipment. The room also features a futuristic sofa-bed and en suite bathroom.

The rooms were naturally designed with families and babies in mind,” says Marie-Christine Vidts, Head of Midwifery of one of the hospital’s two units.


Although only one of the hospital’s rooms is entirely fitted out with these digital tools and furniture, 11 double rooms and 25 individual rooms have bedside tablets.

“It’s really handy: the mums choose their menu for each meal via the screen and so it’s easier for us to collect the information,” explains one of the nurses. “They can also fill out a satisfaction questionnaire directly via the tablet, which means it’s much easier to gather and process feedback, allowing us to focus on patient care. We’ll eventually be able to store the patients’ medical records on it too, so that the doctors and nursing staff can consult them. That will save us all the hassles of using paper records, which is slower and there’s the risk of losing the files.”

As for the possible issue of the older generation of hospital staff not being able to master the digital tools, this is quickly dismissed by one of the professors:

“They just need training. And it’s as intuitive as a smartphone; I really can’t see it being a problem.”

The project, which was rolled out with the assistance of experts, is apparently a success:

“From the very outset, we’ve shared the risks with Econocom. We brought the overall infrastructure and they deployed the digital solution of the future. As we had already planned to rebuild part of the hospital, it was easier to implement: we were starting from scratch. Now costs are under control and the patients are happy. A few years ago it cost about €4.50 per patient to have a television, whereas now, for €6, they have access to a range of digital tools via the tablet and TV.”

This system is a prime example of “Digital for All, Now” and proves that, even in life’s crucial moments, digital technology can help people – and the users agree: Brigitte, who gave birth to her baby girl in the maternity ward, is full of praise for her experience at the hospital:

“I was initially a bit overwhelmed, but I gradually got used to it. The tablet makes me feel like I’m at home. After I gave birth, I realised how handy it was. Some of our family members live far away and thanks to the tablet connected to the Internet, we can communicate via video and share those precious moments with our loved ones.”

#LeWeb, startups and investors: how face-to-face meetings can boost digital ventures

Econocom 31 Dec 2014

#LeWeb, startups and investors: how face-to-face meetings can boost digital ventures
Every year, leading digital players attend the LeWeb conference in France to present the latest innovations and talk about the future of digital. It’s also an essential opportunity for startups to find potential investors…
For ten years now, the LeWeb has been creating a buzz in the Internet world and putting France on the digital map. Founded in 2004 by French entrepreneurs Loïc and Géraldine Le Meur, LeWeb is a series of international conferences designed to foster digital innovations. Leading digital players from all over the world, from visionaries, startups, “GAFA” (Google – Apple – Facebook – Amazon) and investors to the French Minister of the Economy, the media and bloggers come together to discuss the latest trends and define the future of internet-driven business.
A number of partnerships are formed during the event: what start up founder, after all, wouldn’t dream of an opportunity to present their invention to the Minister of the Economy, Emmanuel Macron, or Free boss Xavier Niel?



“Get spotted by investors and raise funds”

To increase the chances of such fruitful meetings, the founders organise a startup competition every year. This year, 21 companies vied for the prestigious trophy. Alexandre Guigues, co-founder of Noospher, one of the finalists, said in Le Figaro: “We’d like to get spotted by investors at LeWeb so we can raise funds. But we’re not just here to get financing or land clients.”
For many startups, the turning point is often a felicitous meeting with an investor or new tech guru who bring the key resources at the right time. The importance of face-to-face meetings at such events as LeWeb and other initiatives such as the Partech Shaker [lien infographie] is something Airbnb fully grasped: the startup that revolutionised peer-to-peer accommodation owes its success to Paul Graham, the British programmer and venture capitalist. In 2009, he invited the founders of Airbnb to join his incubator, asked them to change their name (formerly and got them to refocus their strategy on greater empathy with the property owners. Airbnb is now valued at $10 billion.
Paul Graham, LeWeb and Digital for All, Now are all proof that digital is about networking and meeting people at the right time in the right place – a sort of productive serendipity, of you will.


Research makes breakthroughs with virtual reality

Econocom 31 Dec 2014

If you thought virtual reality was just for geeks and video game addicts, think again: after being used for industrial modelling, it is now revolutionising surgery.

Over the past few years, more and more surgeons have been experimenting with digital technology in the operating theatre, led by pioneers such as Professor Jacques Marescaux. One of the first ever advocates of augmented surgery, Marescaux first caught the public’s attention in 2001 when he successfully performed the world’s first remote surgical procedure, operating from New York on a patient in France!
This visionary immediately spotted the immense potential of 3D modelling to ensure safer surgery, both before and during procedures.


Virtual reality can be used to prepare for surgical procedures with the utmost precision. Using images from scans or MRIs, the surgeon can create “digital clones” of the patient using a software program.
Professor Marescaux explains:


“With the virtual patient clone, we can explore the inside of the body and see all the important aspects of the operation. You can remote certain elements such as an artery in order to locate and measure a tumour and thus implement an effective surgical strategy.”

Virtual reality also benefits patients before the operation. The surgeon can reassure them and explain, clearly and in detail, exactly how the procedure will be performed.


“It means anyone can understand their condition: the patient can immediately understand what’s wrong with them and how we’re going to treat it. It’s ideal.”

The next step involves using the virtual clone in the actual operating theatre. A camera is introduced into the patient’s body, so that the virtual image can be superimposed over the real one, thereby creating an augmented reality environment which helps the surgeon to operate more quickly and with greater precision.


“The fact that we can go directly to the target area means we can often locate a tumour in just a few minutes instead of several hours. This is every surgeon’s dream: to be able to see everything so clearly and avoid causing any injuries or complications.”

By assisting the surgeon at each stage of the procedure, augmented reality limits the risk of human error and considerably reduces operation times: with 3D modelling, digital technology really can revolutionise surgery.

Photo credits: Surgery, photo by Army Medicine, licence CC BY 2.0


3 tips for bringing entrepreneurial spirit into corporations

ECONOCOM 31 Dec 2014

After spending several years at Intel, Lila Ibrahim joined Coursera, a provider of MOOCs, (massive open online courses, free online lessons which have been hugely successful over the past few years).In an article in Fortune, Ibrahim gives some advice on how to boost innovation within large corporations.



Innovation is about being fearless! Employees in large enterprises shouldn’t be afraid of making bold choices and trying new experiences. It’s a great way to surpass yourself and take on new challenges by working with people with different skillsets in an open innovation rationale.



“There are so many resources out there, as well as mentors and peers from whom to learn and gain perspective”, says Ibrahim. Given the limited resources of a startup, you have to wear different hats, even in areas you’re not an expert in. A CEO needs to encourage this entrepreneurial spirit among employees so they can constantly expand their skillset and thus develop innovation.



Another essential factor for stimulating innovation in organisations is embracing entrepreneurship. Ibrahim explains:


“Adopting the “intrapraneur” label at Intel gave me (and my team) an entirely new vocabulary. Suddenly we were able to explain what we were doing within a “start-up” framework that other people could better understand—a process that helped remove obstacles to new ways of doing business. As intrapreneurs, we took pride in being rebels, rolled up our sleeves, and got the job done.

You don’t need to be at a startup to innovate and have a huge impact. Often, all you need is creativity and the willingness to learn skills outside of your comfort zone to innovate right where you already are.”

Because “Digital for All, Now” is a state of mind!

Start-up: the Shaker, an open innovation campus opens its doors in Paris

ECONOCOM 30 Dec 2014

French startups are booming and spearheading both the country’s economy and the “Digital for All, Now!” movement. A survey published in June by EY and think-tank France Digitale showed that startups’ revenue jumped 43% between 2012 and 2013. But whilst most of these companies, which are a major growth driver in France, are launched at trade fairs or in student bedrooms, they need a dynamic ecosystem in order to flourish. So how can you find the ideal breeding ground for developing a startup?
This is what we asked ourselves when we explored the Shaker, a dedicated open innovation campus which officially opened its doors at 33 rue du Mail in Paris on 17 December.




The purpose of this 2,200-m² space is to create an ecosystem of startups and large corporations who can collaborate and develop their businesses. The venue is fitted out with digital tools to enable the resident companies to innovate their processes and products, which is crucial in order to stand out from the competition.


“There’s been a real shift in the dynamic between enterprises and startups,” says Romain Lavault, General Partner at Partech Ventures, which launched the Shaker. “Large corporations have the clout, a strong client base, and so forth. Startups, meanwhile, have the ability to innovate and respond quickly to the market. This combination creates something really unique.”



According to Bruno Grossi, Executive Director in charge of Strategy, Acquisitions and Communications at Econocom, a partner of the Shaker:


“Large corporations benefit from a refreshing, challenging environment. Bringing them together with startups gives them an idea of how fast the digital transformation is sweeping over the French economy.”



Startups stand to gain too…




With digital furniture, rest areas and meeting rooms equipped with the latest technologies and a terrace with panoramic views of Paris, the Shaker is an ideal venue for developing a startup.


“We’re at the development stage and needed a place to meet people, but also to work in an attractive setting”, says Julien Cohen-Solal, co-founder of startup Kartable.


His partner Sarah Besnaïnou, adds:


“The Shaker enables us to collaborate with other entrepreneurs of our age. Interacting with other people makes us feel as though we’re part of something bigger.”

The Shaker is thus an ideal environment to support budding digital talents and, by extension, boost the French economy: the EY and France Digitale report revealed that 1,376 jobs were created in one year by the 116 companies interviewed, and over 9 out of 10 of these positions were permanent contracts while just 1% were internships.

So these bright young things need nurturing – and that’s precisely what Jeudigitaux, an initiative launched by Axelle Lemaire, French Secretary of State for Digital Affairs, is about. Organised once a month and with an appearance by a different MP each time, the aim of these events is to bring together large groups and startups:


“It’s good to be part of an ecosystem with such a variety of players,” says Lemaire. […] “The aim is to get people networking and throw ideas around. That’s what stimulates innovation and new projects and boosts growth.”