Here’s everything you need to know about this year’s Viva Technology conference

Third time is a charm. Viva Technology (or “VivaTech” for short) hosted its kick-off press conference to present this year’s event. And this year is going to be quite special for TechCrunch as well because we’re hosting a Startup Battlefield Europe at VivaTech and a Hackathon.

Hosted at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the press conference started off with Foreign Affairs Ministry staff member Maurice Gourdault-Montagne re-using Emmanuel Macron’s saying. “France is back,” he said.

Last year, I called VivaTech a ginormous conference. And it’s true that the conference’s numbers are quite impressive. There were 68,000 people, 6,000 startups, 1,400 investors, 103 countries and 1 Emmanuel Macron. You can expect another ginormous VivaTech on May 24-26, 2018 at Paris expo Porte de Versailles.

Co-organized by Publicis and Les Échos, former Publicis CEO Maurice Lévy and Les Échos CEO Francis Morel started the event by going straight to the point. They’re calling VivaTech France’s equivalent of CES.

Let’s start with the best part. TechCrunch is going to organize a Startup Battlefield. Before everybody started doing a startup competition, there was the Startup Battlefield. Companies like Dropbox, Fitbit, N26 and Yammer all launched on the TechCrunch stage.

TechCrunch is going to be looking for the best and brightest entrepreneurs in the coming months to participate in our Battlefield. Applying is free, TechCrunch doesn’t take any equity, and the winner gets a big €25,000 check.

Early-stage startups will get exactly six minutes to pitch what they’ve been working on. After that, a panel of investors, tech experts and TechCrunch editors will ask questions to learn more about what they’re doing.

In addition to the Startup Battlefield, hundreds of hackers will get together to work on something cool, something neat, something smart. Our Hackathons are a great way to meet talented people and work on interesting projects.

As usual, VivaTech is also partnering with big French companies as sponsors and startup hubs. Companies, such as BNP Paribas, Google, La Poste, LVMH and others are going to rent a big chunk of the conference hall and invite startups on their booths.

“Startups apply to challenges organized by our partners,” VivaTech co-director Julie Ranty-Déchelette said. “Eventually, there will be 1,000 startups.” This is VivaTech’s main difference as startups that win those challenges don’t have to pay anything to get a booth in the main conference hall.

Last year, VivaTech created an investor corner with office hours with VC funds. This year, VivaTech is going to create a coaching center and a zone accelerate.

“Another important goal for VivaTech has always been to create an international event,” VivaTech co-director Maxime Baffert said. VivaTech has organized the VivaTour in 25 different countries, from San Francisco to Melbourne, from Rabat to Shanghai. This way, VivaTech can invite international startups and speakers.

The conference is partnering with accelerators and incubators in different countries. And there will be over 10 country pavilions, such as Israel, Italy, South Korea and Russia.

Baffert also announced a big Africa Tech space with a dedicated conference track, country pavilions and more. You’ll hear about African startups and innovations during the entire event.

On the first two days, VivaTech is mostly a business conference. But on the third day, anyone can go to the event. That’s why VivaTech wants to bring visual innovations. There will be a Tech Park with a bunch of robots, an e-sports stage and a Mega Tech Show with drones, robots and actual human beings for instance.

VivaTech is organization a Paris Tech for Good Summit at the Elysée Palace with Emmanuel Macron the day before the event. So you can also expect to see more Macron this year.

Announcing Startup Battlefield Europe at VivaTech this May

TechCrunch Startup Battlefield is headed to VivaTech in Paris on May 24th to find and feature the best early-stage startup across Europe! In partnership with VivaTech, Startup Battlefield Europe will feature startups from across continental Europe working on the cutting-edge technologies blooming this Spring. VivaTech is the perfect spot to host our Startup Battlefield Europe competition as founders, business leaders, investors, academics, students, and media from Europe and around the world will descend on Paris to preview the future.

TechCrunch will host Startup Battlefield Europe at VivaTech on May 24-25 in front of a live audience and top judges, and we will live stream the show on TechCrunch, so the rest of the world can tune in.

The overall winner of Startup Battlefield Europe will also win €25,000 in no-equity cash plus an all-expense paid trip for two to San Francisco to participate in the Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch’s flagship event, Disrupt SF 2018 (assuming the company still qualifies to participate at this time). Apply here.

The Startup Battlefield has been bringing world-class founders into the spotlight since 2007, and in the past decade more than 700 contestants have gone on to raise over $8 billion in funding and rack up more than 100 exits. Our community of Startup Battlefield Alumni include companies like Mint, Dropbox, Yammer, TripIt, Getaround and Cloudflare.

TechCrunch doesn’t invest in Startup Battlefield companies (or any company, for that matter), but if Startup Battlefield were a TechCrunch investment portfolio it would rank like a top-10 VC. Instead, we tell the founders’ stories, uncovering the next wave of disruptive innovations and let our readers deploy the capital. TechCrunch charges no fees to Startup Battlefield contestants to apply or participate.

Founders that make the cut receive expert pitch coaching from Samantha Stein, our Startup Battlefield Editor, and the TC team. When the Startup Battlefield arrives, you’ll be ready to pitch your company to seasoned investors and founders in six minutes, and answer any questions they throw your way. If you make it to the finals, you’ll pitch again in the top-five for your chance to be the first winner ever of TechCrunch Startup Battlefield Europe.

The entire event will be live streamed (and later available on demand), and carried on, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

How to apply

Qualifying startups should:

  • Be early-stage companies in “launch” stage
  • Be a resident from our eligible countries
  • Have a fully working product/beta, reasonably close to or in production
  • Have received limited press or publicity to date
  • Have no known intellectual property conflicts

What do the winners receive?

Apart from the exposure that comes from pitching to the global TechCrunch audience, as well as the live audience of distinguished technologists, entrepreneurs and investors in Europe, the overall winner will receive €25,000 in no-equity cash plus an all-expense paid trip for two to San Francisco to compete in Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch’s flagship event, Disrupt SF 2018 (assuming the company still qualifies to compete at this time).

Who picks the startups that will compete?

The TechCrunch editors who run the TechCrunch Startup Battlefield competition will choose the finalists from the application pool.

Who will judge Startup Battlefield Europe?

TechCrunch will select judges. They will be noted entrepreneurs, investors and technologists with experience relevant to the category. A TechCrunch editor will moderate the judging, and cast the tie-breaker ballot, if needed.

What is the pitch-off format?

Each company will have six minutes to present. The judges will have six minutes to ask questions. Live demos are required.

What are the judging criteria?

One winner will be chosen from each category and one overall winner. The judges are looking for the company most likely to produce an exit or IPO.

When is the application deadline?

March 15th, 2018 at 9pm PST.

Will TechCrunch’s team help prepare startups for the pitch-off?

Yes, in-person training and rehearsal sessions will be required, as well as in-person rehearsal in the days preceding the event.

Which countries are eligible?

This is a global competition searching for the best innovators, makers and technologists from every corner of the globe. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the foregoing language, the “Applicable Countries” does not include any country to or on which the United States has embargoed goods or imposed targeted sanctions.

If you would like to apply — please click here.

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See you in Paris!