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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?

Education Series – 4 – Collaborative practices in education

Society March 12th, 2015, François Taddei / Biology Researcher, Founder and CEO, Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity (CRI, Paris)

With the rise of machines, an important number of skills are bound to disappear. But the emergence of new issues also requires new forms of human expertise. Facing worldwide problems that we are yet unable to solve, we need to develop different forms of intelligence, learn to cooperate and achieve results that aren't possible for individuals alone. Will our education systems, fundamentally based on competition, meet this challenge?

Hidden champions are market leaders that are often not well known by the general public. These small and medium size businesses focus on niche markets that they dominate at a national, regional or even global scale, with a market share often exceeding 70%. Exceptionally numerous in Germany, where they form the backbone of the Mittelstand, they explain both this country's exporting power and its resilience to crises.

During the 20th century Governments and public agencies such as NASA played a major role in the innovation chain. The Internet itself was born through public programs, just as GPS and many other game-changing technologies. But in recent years, questions arose over the efficiency of public efforts, challenged by smart, dynamic, powerful corporations such as Google, on the one hand, or bottom-up and open source models, on the other hand. Are Governments out of the game?

New digital upstarts are threatening the bottom lines, growth prospects, and even business models of traditional service providers. It’s time for incumbents to innovate... or be left behind.

Rising energy consumption round the world, rarefaction of fossil energy sources, climate change, the necessary reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions… The development of new and renewable energy sectors, emitting few or zero GHGs has become primordial. Faced with this inevitable energy transition phase, nuclear fusion could be justified, provided we can prove its feasibility, thereby enabling a move to industrial fusion power production. This is the challenge assigned to the ITER international research facility.

The future of entreprise – 7 – Towards new value proposals

Business February 19th, 2015, Nicolas Colin / Co-founder and Partner, TheFamily

Business models that emerge today outline a world of hyper-competition: in the digital economy, it's always possible to find both better and cheaper elsewhere. Now, this tendency is spreading beyond the borders of the Net. How can a company survive in this ruthless world? How can it possibly stand out from others? New trends are emerging, new value proposals that could become the cornerstone of tomorrow's economy.

Children of the digital era are accustomed to receiving information really fast. They like to parallel process and multi-task. Philosopher Michel Serres describes them as no longer having the same heads. Is it a generational question? In any case educators cannot ignore the new thinking patterns. Our schools must take them into account, not only in adapting teaching methods but also in inventing a new role in a Society that consumes knowledge instantly.

Knowledge is becoming increasingly important in our economies and Society at large, to the extent that a new expression has been coined to baptize this new development phase: the knowledge-based economy. Characterized by the growing contribution of production, dissemination and uses made of knowledge (intangible or immaterial capital) to the competitiveness of enterprises and nations, the knowledge-based economy calls for future citizens and workers to be taught a renewed set of skills, differing partly from those developed during the industrial era.

The Internet has revolutionized our access to knowledge. Why should education not be affected? Institutions are evolving, but the arrival of new technologies and practices such as MOOCs have only had a limited impact thus far. Yet it is now apparent that we stand at the dawn of major changes. It is not just the new tools that will change matters but an in-depth evolution of Society and our economies.

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