Paris&Co Learning Expedition: NYC VR/AR Discovery Session

May 4, 2017 | By French Culture

On Thursday, May 4th, 2017, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy welcomed Paris&Co, the economic development and innovation agency of Paris, for a Learning Expedition focusing on the discover of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). Thomas Michelon, Deputy Cultural Counselor, opened the event with a welcoming speech.

Welcome everyone! It's a pleasure to have you all here today. Over the past 4 years, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy have embraced the digital revolution and made creative industries a priority in their programs. The digital sphere holds high stakes for both the economy and diplomacy. Due to the great economic weight of cultural industries in France, their digital transformation represents a crucial economic challenge for our country. Our role is thus to defend the interests of our companies and help ensure the strategic positioning of French metropolises within the international landscape. Furthermore, technological revolutions have a direct impact on the creation and distribution of cultural content, preservation of the diversity of cultural expression, and diffusion of ideas. If our goal is to continue to expose future generations of Americans to French creativity, to the ideas brought about by our intellectuals and thinkers, we must not ignore this new dimension of online content distribution.

The Cultural Services’ actions in the pursuit of innovation and technological development are evident in two of our most prominent programs, the French-American Creative Lab and the promotion of French VR creative content.

The French-American Creative Lab is a creative and economic development program for startups from the cultural and creative industries coproduced with Business France. Drawing on startups from the various fields, including music, media, museum, fashion, and of course Virtual and Augmented Reality, the program is designed to help them adapt their products to the American market and to give them access to new ecosystems and leaders of the local creative and tech industries. Over the 2 past editions of the program, we have supported 19 startups, organized 19 networking events (including pitch sessions), and organized 122 business meetings with leading institutions.

The 3rd edition of the Creative Lab, still in preparation, will take place in November 2017. The call for applications is in process: we are looking for 8 to 12 level A and B startups. They will be given the opportunity to participate in a more ambitious program than ever that will bring them not only to New York City but also to Los Angeles, the 3rd more prominent outpost for startups and an ideal location for entrepreneurs in the entertainment industries due to its proximity to Hollywood and major music industries. The impact of the Creative Lab will be enhanced through even more effective one-on-one business meetings and increased access to VCs and Business Angels.

The Cultural Services have been following the development of VR and AR through specific actions since 2014, such as the promotion of French content in festivals (such as the Tribeca Film Festival and Future of Storytelling in NYC, Filmgate in  Miami, Colcoa in LA, SXSW, in Austin, and Sundance New Frontier in  Utah). We have been providing necessary financial support to help French producers and creators attend the festivals, and connecting French and American professionals through personalized meetings. Many of our events serve as “demos” of French Projects. Our Tribeca pre-opening cocktail party in 2017 highlighted the 3 French projects selected at Virtual Arcade (Alteration, Sergeant James, Unrest) and gave the opportunity to Wonda VR, a Creative Lab alumni, to showcase 2 projects created during one of their VR hackathon. The Night of Philosophy and Ideas 2017 featured the multi-awarded Notes on Blindness, and at SXSW this year, 8 French projects were showcased in the French House.

Sometimes we organize specific events for our partners, like today! We are delighted to welcome Paris&Co, one of the partners of the Creative Lab, for a discovery session on VR and AR. Let me introduce you to Ming-Lie Wong, Director of Corporate Partnerships at Paris&Co, the economic development and innovation agency of Paris.

Ming-Lie is in charge of developing corporate alliances between big companies and Paris&Co in order to foster the Parisian innovation ecosystem through the cooperation between startups and global players. She is managing strategic relationships with 100 Largest Companies in France and develops open innovation services for them. For the companies that are pitching today, Ming-Lie Wong will present Paris&Co. Please welcome Ming-Lie.

[Ming-Lie’s remarks]

Thank you Ming-Lie. Although when speaking about VR and AR we are focusing on creative content here at the Cultural Services, uses for these new technologies are much broader as they affect all verticals from real estate to training, maintenance, branded content and entertainment. Our aim today is to give you an overview of the NYC VR/AR scene. I would love to extend a warm thank you to our keynote speaker, D.J. Smith, and to Rod Recker for their help and contribution to the organization of this event.

D.J. Smith is the Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer at The Glimpse Group, a holding company for a portfolio of startups focused on the virtual and augmented reality industries. At Glimpse, D.J.’s responsibilities include overseeing the production of all VR and AR content as well leading the effort to locate new subsidiary companies. In addition, D.J. is the organizer of The New York Virtual Reality Meetup (NYVR) which is currently the 2nd largest VR meetup in the world with 4700+ members. D.J. Smith will give you a glimpse of the NYC VR and AR landscape: the technology, the actors, the financial aspects and the future developments. Please welcome D.J. Smith.

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