Hello Tomorrow started out 2013 as a non-profit initiative to help French scientists get out of the lab and bring their inventions onto the market. Now ten years later, it has morphed into a phenomenon, at the gravitational centre of which is an annual event organised in a big old abandoned train station in north east of Paris. I’m just back from that event.

The Good

There’s a lot to like about Hello Tomorrow, but what attracts me the most has to do with its tonality. At first glance, the glossy production value of everything from web presence to venue to the scouting, screening and presentation of the teams that got to pitch, signals that this is yet another TechCrunch clone (of which there are so many).

Once I got to experience Hello Tomorrow first-hand however, it was immediately clear to me that this is a different kind of animal. This thing isn’t about perpetuating the romanticised myths of entrepreneurship. This thing is an invitation to think deeply about the possible implications if we were to harness the breakthroughs that are happening within academia, by helping scientists turn their inventions into innovation.

And it manages to do this without falling for the temptation of techno-utopianism.

What we get instead, is a balanced cross-examinations of not just what it would mean to humanity if we could fully leverage the game-changing discoveries that are happening in our labs, but also of the structural problems which are blocking scientific discoveries from being implemented on the market.

The feeling one is left with is almost wistful. An emotion which is a function of a rip-current between the optimism of seeing so many enormously powerful solutions which offers a real chance of overcoming our global challenges, combined with the chilling realisation that cracking the science is the easy part; that there’s so many stars which need to align in order to bridge the vast gap separating academia from the market.

I used to live in France and there were always lots of things I liked about the country, but a vibrant startup scene was never one of them. On the contrary, much of its appeal hinged on nostalgia fuelled by a sense of splendid isolation. It was a culture that was open only to the extent openness didn’t interfere with conserving French-ness. All of that seems to have changed now, to judge by the vibe at Hello Tomorrow; contentment and entitlement is replaced by curiosity paired with sense of urgency.

I’ve got about half a notebook worth of scribbles from the many excellent sessions, but want to pick just one of them that I felt was emblematic of the whole. It happened in one of the small backrooms, far from the fancy main stage (which, to give you an idea, was filled with tons of sand where speakers walked barefoot, and had crane-mounted flying cameras of the kinds you expect at big sports events).

The session I have in mind focused on the Canadian quantum scene, which is impressively mature for such a relatively small country (population-wise, that is). It turns out the Canadian government started pumping real money into quantum technology already 25 years ago, which has led to an absolutely fantastic crop of startups, some of which had come to Paris. There was enough physics PhD’s and serial entrepreneurs in that room to allow for any amount of bragging, yet nobody beat their own drum.

What struck me instead was how openly these people were willing to share knowledge and learning with each other, rather than to showcase their own achievements. Truly inspiring.

The Bad

I liked everything I saw at Hello Tomorrow. What I didn’t like is what I didn’t see. First of all I saw nowhere near enough people from the DACH region. Germans, Swiss, Astrians, they’re all making *great* contributions to the European deeptech ecosystem, still they were conspicuously absent. A fact made all the more evident by all the contributions from Spanish, Belgians, Dutch, Israelis, Americans, British, Canadians and even South Americans. This simply won’t do, the scale of the problems we’re facing requires all hands on deck. Deswegen möchte ich alle Mit-Innovatoren im deutschsprachigen Raum aufrufen: Markiert die Ausgabe 2025 von Hello Tomorrow schon jetzt in euren Kalendern, das dürft ihr nicht verpassen!

The other element I missed, was Swedish policy-makers.

The Ugly

Because the ugly truth is that we’re falling behind as a nation. Sure, Sweden still comes out near the top on innovation scoreboards and when countries are ranked by patents per capita. But that’s largely an effect of incumbents such as Ericsson, together with a few outliers such as Northvolt and H2greeen steel.

When Macron came to power in France, he pledged to do whatever it takes to have 100 new French unicorns spawned by 2030, and amazingly he seems to be on track with 27 created so far.

The raw material for such a Cambrian explosion of innovation is certainly present in the Swedish ecosystem too, but our politicians and their advisors need to understand that it can’t be unlocked without substantial governmental intervention.

It’s great that Spotify, Mojang, King and Voi were all funded with private equity, but deeptech ventures require very different approaches to funding and support, often needing significant long-term investments and a deep understanding of complex scientific and technological advancements before they can achieve commercial success.

To name just *one* example, the Swedish fusion moonshot Novatron, based on a unique scientific breakthrough, could be an extremely important piece of the green transition puzzle. But only provided that it gets the same kind of love and attention that the French government (and the British, and the American) is paying its next generation deeptech unicorns. Now is *the* time to strategically invest in the technology that is laying the foundation for the next epoch.


Although perhaps a bit stressed out about Sweden losing its momentum, I mainly came back from France feeling invigorated and with a renewed sense of purpose.

Some fifty years ago, Paris was the epicentre of a cultural revolution. Now the French seem to be channelling the zeitgeist of our times again, pointing the way to a profound change in how we see the world. We can no longer afford academia, entrepreneurship, venture capital and governmental support structures to be monocultures isolated from each other. We have to mix it up and start talking each other’s languages. If we manage, the rewards will be priceless.