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Sharing economy: how the wind of trust has changed direction

Society May 28th, 2015, Monique Dagnaud / Research Director, French National Center for Scientific Research

The sharing economy has wind in its sails. Its proponents are growing in numbers and the utopian narrative disseminated by its promoters is currently in vogue. But there is another side to the coin.

The spread of civil drones in China: an industry was born… and the killer app is expected soon

Industries May 27th, 2015, PENG Zhongren / Professor, Center for ITS and UAV Application Research, School of Naval Architecture, Ocean and Civil Engineering, Shanghai Jiaotong University

China has joined the race. The rapid development of civil uses, such as monitoring pollution and transportation flow, has allowed new players to emerge, aside from large military programs. Applications will drive the growth of this industry, along with technology advances and falling prices. It is still too early to say whether UAVs can be applied on a large scale and overhaul the traditional industries. But some companies are already valued at US$10 billion. Shall we expect consolidation? What is going to be the killer application?

As omnichannel retailing transforms this nation of 50 million people, retailers around the world should be watching - and learning.

It is a paradox: despite huge oil reserves supporting their wealth, Norwegians have become, in a few years, the first users of electric vehicles. These represent 18% of new registrations since the beginning of 2015! The key to this unprecedented growth, nowhere else to be found, is their convincing policy of incentives... so convincing, in fact, that their designers have been overwhelmed by its success: the model is bound to evolve.

Of all children entering school this year, 75% will exercise a profession that doesn't exist today. This trend is already noticeable. The good news is that neuroscience discoveries support the idea of learning during our entire lives. But capacities are but one part of the whole picture. How can we establish a genuine culture of lifelong learning? Technologies will help, but companies should also encourage employees to share their experience, knowledge and expertise as part of a comprehensive learning environment incorporating experiential elements, feedback and more formal courses.

A modern myth debunked: no, consumers are not in control

Business May 7th, 2015, Howard Gross / Founder and Principal, HG Communications, LLC; former Senior Director of Global Communications, The Nielsen Company

Granted marketers no longer exercise the leverage they once did, it is a delusion to assume it has been transferred to consumers; especially in an increasingly complex world where the very notion of control is, itself, becoming a myth.

As crowdfunding becomes more accepted, it's moving into new areas. One with a lot of promise: commercial real estate, where deals under $10 million are not worth the efforts of big investors, says Dan Miller, co-founder of Fundrise. These large investors do not want to have a lot of $1 million investments, they won't be able to manage it. That has left an opening for crowdfunding firms like his.

In February Elon Musk boldly predicted Tesla motors would go where no car company has ever gone before, to a $700 billion market valuation by 2025. To put that in perspective, Apple became the most valuable company in history when it reached a $700 billion market valuation in November 2014. Compared to the automobile industry, $700 billion dwarfs the market value of the five biggest public automobile companies. Together, Toyota, Volkswagen, BMW, Ford and Honda have a market cap of just $522 billion. Is Elon Musk crazy? Or is he planning something only he can see?

Innovative, more participatory and personalized forms of learning are emerging. Among these new forms of learning, two have acquired significant importance over the course of recent years: serious games and MOOCs. Their main advantage is to allow a high degree of personalization in the learning process, a principle that has been long advocated by education specialists but that happens to be impractical in our mass educational models.

Energy transition Series – Will renewable energy sources soon be profitable?

Industries April 24th, 2015, Michel Cruciani / Program Manager, Centre of Geopolitics of Energy and Raw Materials (CGEMP, University Paris-Dauphine)

Wind turbine and solar power sources now represent a significant fraction in the electricity generation mix of industrialized countries. How did they achieve such a breakthrough successfully? European countries use differing models, which all show their limits, for transition from a subsidy-intensive economy to a market-driven logic is complex. The question remains: will renewable energy sources soon be proven profitable?

Any child is capable of learning how to code. In a world where digital technologies are increasingly pervasive, it is healthy for future citizens to acquire a basic understanding of how their environment works. But is school the most suitable place to do so?

The more pervasive the threat, the higher the economic implications: no wonder cybersecurity has come under the spotlight in recent months. What, exactly, is at stake? And should the C-suite take hold?

Maps 2.0: from GoogleMaps to Citymaps

Society April 13th, 2015, Elliot Cohen / Founder and CEO, Citymaps

Ever heard of maps 2.0? Yes, just like web 2.0, they are not only digital but also social and personal. You can make them yours, as well as use your friends' knowledge and experience of a city. What do they show, how do they work? Citymaps is probably one of the most innovative startups in the game. CEO and cofounder Elliot Cohen tells us about the dreams that lie beneath the map – with a glimpse of the technical challenges and the business model.

Competitiveness in the industry: let’s talk about services

Industries April 7th, 2015, Vincent Champain / COO France, General Electric, Co-chairman, Observatoire du long terme

Today, manufacturers operate in a harsh competitive environment. How can they maintain and develop their competitive edges? What kind of industrial policy can help them when facing this challenge?

The ingredients for long-term investment are quite simple: all you need is money and favorable legal, accounting, financial and tax conditions. Despite the fact that money is readily available nowadays, the needs for long-term investments are far from being met. How can we change this situation?

A slew of new product introductions indicate virtual reality technology is coming into its own - but it's a sector that is still waiting for a breakthrough product to win over consumers.

Net neutrality: network as a necessity

Society March 25th, 2015, WEI Wuhui / Lecturer, School of Media and Design, Shanghai Jiaotong University

The Net neutrality has nothing to do with universal values. Its aim is to balance interests between Internet service providers and Internet content providers. This was the biggest stake in the U.S. Federal Communications Commission decision, in February. What did it say exactly? Can such a decision really provide the ICPs and public with a free and equal Internet accessibility without any costs?

Energy transition Series – Which future for hydrogen and fuel cells?

Science and Technology March 23rd, 2015, Hélène Pierre / Market Manager City and Territories, Research and Technology Department, GDF-SUEZ ; Treasurer, French Association for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell

Storing electricity? Some old solutions to this old problem are gaining momentum nowadays, thanks to recent improvements. Among these solutions, using electricity to obtain hydrogen and reconverting it later into energy or heat via fuel cells. The advantages are numerous: the possibility to store the excess production of electricity generated by renewable energy sources, to mix the hydrogen with natural gas (methane), to power electric vehicles… But there are as many challenges ahead if we want hydrogen to be a significant part of the future energy mix. Actions are under way. Let us discover them!

Industrial and technical challenges in the nuclear power industry

Industries March 20th, 2015, Hervé Machenaud / Vice President Asia-Pacific, Electricité de France (EDF), Former Group Senior Executive Vice President of Generation, EDF

In an industrial facility, the key-concept is reliability. It is all the more true in utilities such as electric power companies, since one must be able to trust the electricity provider 24/7, year in, year out. It is even crucial when it comes to nuclear power production, where one should expect high sustainability and total safety. In this industry, rigorous mastering of the production tool is thus a necessary condition for the technical and economic performance. The heart of this industrial model is engineering.

Education Series – 5 – Should we all learn to code?

Science and Technology March 17th, 2015, Serge Abiteboul / Senior Researcher, INRIA, Professor, ENS Cachan, Member of the French Academy of Sciences

The question first arose in the 1980s, with the advent of the personal computer: were we all going to have to learn to program? The development of the software industry seemed to have given one definitive, and negative, answer to this question. Yet it is coming back, with a vengeance. Why exactly should we take it seriously this time around?

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