2024 Summit Recap: The Best of the Event

Tech Innovation Soars: A Recap of La French Tech Toronto Summit 2024 at Casa Loma


After nearly a decade of private sector use, generative AI achieved a significant milestone in 2022 with its public release. This breakthrough captivated billions, who eagerly embraced the new technology. However, it also drew scrutiny from critics who questioned the technology’s readiness and humanity’s preparedness for such a revolutionary advancement.

Many advocated for a halt in AI development for public use, creating a brief stall. Nevertheless, this did not impede AI’s growth, adoption, and rollout, with increasing global interest. By 2024, AI has become the central theme in the tech world, influencing virtually every sector. As top leaders race to integrate AI tools, optimize operations, and drive profits, a crucial piece of the puzzle has emerged: data privacy.

The Thriving French Tech Ecosystem

Enter the French Tech ecosystem—a robust, well-funded, and highly integrated landscape that nurtures startups. Despite economic downturns and funding dips, the French tech ecosystem excelled in 2023, with the top 15 fundraising rounds accounting for 36% of investments, bringing in €2.5 billion. With top engineering schools like École Normale Supérieure, Polytechnique, and Centrale, France has long been a breeding ground for world-class mathematicians. Unsurprisingly, 15% of all investments were in AI. An outstanding 34% of capital was poured into climate-focused solutions while the remaining funds went to quantum computing, defense, next-gen materials, digitizing cities, SaaS security, construction, energy renovation, space, compliance, and gaming.

France’s fertile ground for disruptive technology has attracted many tech trailblazers back to their homeland, incubating exciting AI companies like Mistral AI and Poolside, originally birthed in the US but now expanding in France. However, the ecosystem relies heavily on global connectivity, immersion, and participation in other tech environments. In Canada, La French Tech Toronto serves as the bridge for global incubation, innovation, and investment between France and Canada.

La French team

Hosting over 700 attendees at Casa Loma, La French Tech Toronto merged historical elegance with modern innovation, transforming the majestic castle into a forum for cutting-edge technology. C-suite executives, tech trailblazers, ecosystem builders, and community members
buzzed with excitement, eagerly anticipating discussions on AI and Data Privacy. Conversations explored breakthroughs, investment opportunities, and challenges as we transition to a tech-fused future.

People in Attendance

Opening the event was the lively Riva Walia, Founding Managing Director of the France Canada Chamber of Commerce Ontario (FCCCO), who proudly acknowledged La French Tech Toronto’s immense work in amplifying the Canada-France Tech ecosystem. She introduced
Mistral AI’s impressive US$6 billion valuation, highlighting the role of existing French businesses in supporting budding tech companies, and enabling unicorn development by welcoming pilot projects in Ontario.

Riva Walia, Founding Managing Director of the France Canada Chamber of Commerce Ontario (FCCCO)

The guest of honor, General Consul of France in Toronto, Mr. Bertrand Pous, outlined the French government’s recent accomplishments in fostering a thriving startup ecosystem through its La French Tech initiative. With 67 international chapters promoting France’s innovation
grounds, Mr. Pous noted France’s success as the first Venture Capital market in the European Union, backed by 500+ VCs and over a million people. His remarks set the tone for the event’s value.

General Consul of France in Toronto, Mr. Bertrand Pous

President of La French Tech Toronto, Estelle Chen, greeted the crowd, emphasizing her team’s role in organizing the event. She reminded guests of their role in sustaining tech innovation in Canada and France, urging them to engage meaningfully, explore new opportunities, and form new partnerships.

La French Tech Toronto, Estelle Chen

After the warm welcome, attendees explored their areas of interest. On the main stage, discussions centered on AI’s role in shaping the future of work, while a second stage delved into Data Privacy. Nicolas Chapados’ keynote on unlocking AI’s potential showcased recent AI bot developments, humorously noting that next year, his AI bot would prepare his speech. Meanwhile, Della Shea’s heartfelt talk on protecting her family’s data highlighted the importance of data stewardship.

Nicolas Chapados, VP, Research ServiceNow
Della Shea, Chief Data and Privacy Offer, Symcor Inc.

Engaging panel discussions followed. On the main stage, moderated by OvhCloud’s VP America’s Estelle Azemard, leaders from TD, Sanofi, and Lactalis shared their AI integration journeys, highlighting efficiencies, challenges, and outcomes across diverse industries. On the second stage, Glimps’ CEO, Frederic Grelot, moderated a panel covering Quantum Computing, Venture Capitalism, and Telecommunications, emphasizing data stewardship and client trust in a future where AI is central.

Unlocking AI Panelists
Guarding Data Privacy Panelists

As the conversations continued, behind the scenes, we connected with representatives from Sanofi, Axelor, Glimps, Lactalis, OVHCloud, and Multiverse to ask them about their thoughts on how each of their companies is embracing AI and data privacy.

We also had the chance to interview General Consul Bertrand Pous and distinguished guest Riva Walia who provided insights on the Toronto French Tech ecosystem and the role of La French Tech in fostering the vibrancy of the ecosystem.

Finally, we were able to get a few moments with the President, of La French Tech Toronto, Estelle Chen to ask her about the remarkable journey towards putting together the 3rd, and largest French Tech Toronto summit and what she envisions the future of La French Tech Toronto to be.

The event concluded with a networking session, as guests celebrated with hors d’oeuvres and an open bar. The large castle rooms buzzed with conversations, setting the stage for a bright, tech-driven future.

Behind the scenes

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