More than 2,000 inspiring and change-making entrepreneurs from around the world met at the gleaming Station F in Paris, the world’s largest startup campus, on September 29 & 30. For what occasion? The very first changeNOW Summit, an international event that opened a unique opportunity to bring together great minds to rethink solutions and take initiatives aimed at creating a new wave of positive energy for the environment and society. Or as the event organizers describe it: “The first of an annual meeting place for allenthusiasts who want to shake and shape the world we live in. To make change real. Now.”
France was the logical choice as the venue country for this gathering. A country that’s renowned for its forward thinking on social equality and as an agent for change through its leading sustainability initiatives. The role France played in orchestrating the Paris Agreement on climate change and the current chairing of the C40 organization – that drives urban action around climate change issues – by the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, are just two examples.
Technology, as we know, is playing an increasingly critical role in several areas of sustainability, environmental protection and social entrepreneurship. French Tech was front and center on these areas during the two-day gathering. Thought-provoking panel sessions on a variety of themes from “Impact Investing” to “The Future of Energy” and “Technology as a Force for Good” enlightened attendees of the event. A changeNOW film festival entertained them. And pitch sessions from a range of startups inspired them. Throughout the two-day conference, several players from French Tech shared initiatives on how they are creating positive impact innovation in the world, and how they are placing a focus on the social side of sustainability by encouraging and stimulating diversity across gender, age, origin and social background in the next generation of startups. Among the French startups present and creating positive impact were:
- Woodoo, the inventor of translucent wood, a sustainable and resistant material for the future of the building industry that drastically reduces C02 emissions;
- SeaBubbles with its futuristic water taxis that aim to revolutionize waterborne transport and make city travel more convenient, more pleasant and more sustainable.
The project that particularly stimulated the audience’s attention came from Purproject a collective of social entrepreneurs who share a common goal: fight deforestation and climate change. Their concept, called insetting, is an initiative to help companies balance their relationship with the environment by offsetting negative impacts (social and environmental). 40 agroforestry and reforestation projects have now been launched in 40 countries in partnership with 150 companies. A fine example of how to transform negative impact into something positive for the planet!