Meet Startup @TW

Introducing the French Pavilion at Future Commerce 2017: Benoit Guidee and Frederic Glanois

As reported by Meet, the French Office Taipei has been extremely active promoting French Tech Taiwan. As part of the Future Commerce 2017 exhibition, Meet had the opportunity to interview the two men at the helm of the French Office Taipei. Here, director Benoit Guidee and head of economic service Frederic Glanois share their views on the upcoming event and the goals of Taiwanese- French cooperation.

Organized by Business Next and Meet, Future Commerce is an annual exhibition focused on showcasing the latest technological advances and their application to new business models. This year’s exhibition takes place in Taipei City between April 27 and 29. Future Commerce aims at improving our environment by showcasing new ways of how technology may enrich our lives.

Diversifying the image of France

Following the inauguration of French Tech Taiwan at last November’s Meet Taipei event, Business Next and the French Office Taipei are cooperating again. This time, they join forces to present four French firms - Carrefour, Edenred, Fime and Decathlon – in the French Pavilion at the Future Commerce 2017 fair.

Caption:Benoit Guidee, Director of French Office in Taipei.

This year, the French Pavilion will be the exclusive international representative displayed at the exhibition. “We are very honored to be the only foreign pavilion at Future Commerce” says Guidee.

While the European country is deservedly known for its luxurious brands, red wine, or haute cuisine, it has recently made strides toward becoming a technology hub. Guidee and Glanois hope that it will show a different side of France as an industrial nation.

Arranging the specifics of the French Pavilion with the French Office and the chosen companies was quite an arduous process. Glanois, who was charged with the task, went to great length to introduce Future Commerce 2017 to each company and explain the exhibition’s main goals.

Retail and FinTech players

According to Guidee, this is the very first time a French Pavilion is featured at Future Commerce. The four participating companies represent the diversity of the French industry, yet they also share an active engagement in Taiwan.

For instance, retailer Carrefour has the largest number of foreign employees with a staff of over 12,000 in Taiwan alone. Moreover, Carrefour is increasingly engaged in e-commerce and constantly exploring innovative ways of improving customers’ experiences, Guidee points out.

Sport equipment retailer Decathlon, too, views the island nation as crucial market. With headquarters in Taichung, the French firm is dedicated to its Taiwanese business.

While Carrefour and Decathlon’s stores are part of urban Taiwan, Edenred and Fime are less visible. The two companies are specialized in the FinTech sector, one of the booming industry fields in Taiwan, France, or elsewhere.

Caption: Frederic Glanois , Head of Economic Service at French Office in Taipei.

Glanois believes that both Fime and Edenred can guide the nascent FinTech sector in Taiwan through their cooperation with local firms.

More so, French companies are working together with their compatriots. Only last year, Edenred teamed up with Carrefour to launch TicketXpress in Taiwan. This cooperation’s main goal is to offer Taiwanese customers with a convenient way to use digital voucher.

Future alliances

As the four representatives of the French Pavilion show, Taiwan is a crucial market for French firms. But Glanois and Guidee also emphasize that Taiwan represents an equally important hub for French companies, many of which are eager to cooperate with local tech companies.

Glanois stressed that not only for the four participating companies Taiwan represents an excellent opportunity to enter strategic partnerships that are beneficial to all sides. Thanks to the hardworking ethos of its population and the steady stream of innovation coming from its companies, the island nation figures as an important partner for France.

According to Guidee, the next big vision of French Tech Taiwan includes four main tenets, namely Innovation, Culture, Environment or green innovation, and Democracy, or Civic Tech.

As Glanois and Guidee see it, their main responsibility is to bring about a strong transnational community featuring French and Taiwanese industry players. Beyond that, the French Office is actively promoting startups in Taiwan. Part of this “French Impact,” as they call it, is aimed at providing local startups and entrepreneurs with opportunities to go global.

A French success story

The launch ceremony of French Tech Taiwan took place only a year ago at Meet Taipei Startup Carnival 2016, which was conducted by the French Office Taipei and French Tech Taiwan’s coordinator Laurent Le Guyader. In this short period, the project has experienced much success already.

“Initially, only a few people had heard of French Tech Taiwan, but now professionals from various fields are well aware of our work. We can clearly see its progress.” Guidee said in an earlier interview with Business Next.

“What we need to do now is enhance French Tech Taiwan’s visibility even further,” Guidee added.

As a brand, French Tech Taiwan is bringing Taiwanese and French businesses together. In this function, it is an ideal partner for Future Commerce 2017.

What’s more, is that Taiwan’s ambitious Asian Silicon Valley initiative focuses heavily on the IoT sector, a field in which France is already an industry leader. For instance, the French Office has invited well-known IoT experts Sigfox to strike long-term alliances with local companies.

Apart from technological innovation, Guidee also see research in education as important aspect of their responsibilities in Taiwan. They therefore actively promote cooperation between Taiwanese and French universities.

Feliciana Hsu
English journalist and PR for Global Affairs

Feliciana gained her MSc of Media Power and Public Affairs from Royal Holloway, University of London.

After graduating from London, she started her career of being journalist at Business Next Media and Meet Startup @TW Website, and specializes in interviewing about innovation and technology.

Within her career, she has interviewed various experts in their field, including Fleur Pellerin, former French Minister of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and Sir Christopher Pissarides, Nobel Prize Laureate in Economic in 2010.