Industry News for Business Leaders
FeaturedIndustry 4.0ManufacturingPARIS 2024

Global Industrie 2024 Kicks Off with Athletic Flair

Global Industrie 2024 Kicks Off with Athletic Flair
DirectIndustry spoke with Global Industrie Director Sébastien Gillet, as the French industry fair opens its doors today near Paris. (Credit: AdobeStock)

DirectIndustry spoke with Global Industrie Director Sébastien Gillet, as the French industry fair opens its doors today near Paris. From 5G to machine tools, 3D printing, nearshoring, and even sports in this Olympic year, Gillet highlights the key themes of the fair.

Global Industrie takes place annually either in Paris or Lyon. This year’s Paris edition will gather 2,300 exhibitors, with 25% of them being foreign exhibitors and 40,000 visitors. In this Olympic year, Sébastien Gillet, the fair’s director, answered our questions about this new edition, which promises to be both sporty and reflective of the industry’s challenges in France.

Global Industrie is taking place at the Villepinte Exhibition Center in Seine-Saint-Denis, near Paris, from 12-28 March 2024.

What will be the key highlights this year?

Sébastien Gillet: “This year, our main focus is on the youth because they represent the future of our industry. We expect 5000 young people to attend the fair. We will also hold our Golden Tech competition that rewards industrial excellence.

There are also new sectors such as 5G and AI, which were not necessarily present in previous editions. We have created a 5G village with 25 companies. The French Minister of Digital Technology will inaugurate it with the Industry Minister Roland Lescure on Tuesday morning. Other themes include decarbonization, job attractiveness, digitalization in industries, and gender diversity. Additionally, sports personalities like Émilien Jacquelin will also be present.”

Is the reindustrialization of France still a topic?

Sébastien Gillet: “I believe this awareness is widely acknowledged and will be demonstrated by all exhibitors. Ten years ago, when reshoring was discussed, it was almost considered an insult. Today, reshoring is happening in France. There are over 150 companies that regularly reshore, perhaps not as many as we would like, but it is still significant. This is important because it creates business, and generates revenue, and jobs. When we discuss “Made in France,” we understand that not everything is manufactured in France. However, today, we are producing certain items in France again, and that’s what we aim to emphasize.”

Regarding the Olympics, will it be an opportunity to highlight French manufacturers?

Sébastien Gillet: “Global Industry will indeed demonstrate all the bridges that exist between the industry and sports. We also want to show through Global Industrie that many industrialists who typically work for other sectors can also have applications for sports. For example, the athlete Emilien Jacquelin, who is a biathlon world champion, will show his 3D-printed rifle. 3D printing is part of the salon’s universe. Manufacturers present at the fair participated in the design of his rifle. This is also what we want to showcase. Also, we want to highlight companies like the ski manufacturer Rossignol, which reshored their production back to France.”

Are there any new developments regarding the organization of the fair?

Sébastien Gillet: “We took inspiration from the Big event organized by French Fab, featuring a main stage where top executives share their insights. This aspect was previously missing from Global Industrie. We’ve never had CEOs or top executives exhibiting at the fair. They were mainly visitors. However, if we want to uplift the industry across Europe, it is crucial to gain valuable insights and experiences from top executives. We need these personalities to bring significant knowledge and understanding. And we are allowing them a platform to speak. The CEO of Siemens France will discuss AI, for instance. This is an opportunity they historically didn’t have due to our fair’s previous configuration. 

I believe that if we aim to reorganize and prepare for the industry’s future challenges in France, it’s crucial to have these top executives share insights on how they’ve restructured their companies and focused on specific areas. For an event like Global Industrie, boasting 2300 exhibitors and 40,000 visitors, and which we consider on par with the agriculture fair, securing the presence of these influential figures is essential to effectively articulate and represent our industry’s significance.”

Global Industrie is aiming to become the European or international leading fair. Where are we at?

Sébastien Gillet: “If it hadn’t been for COVID, I believe we could have already achieved a certain level of international recognition, building on what Global Industrie showcased in 2018 and 2019. COVID certainly slowed our progress.

However, last year’s edition in Lyon provided reassurance, and the current one is shaping up to do the same. A few years ago, the fair happened without politics, youth, or major media presence. Now, we’re transforming the event with the inclusion of young people. We expect five to six thousand young attendees. Major media outlets like BFM Business, BFM, and TF1 will also cover the event.

This evolution, once deemed inconceivable, demonstrates our adaptability. We no longer need to envy our counterparts in agriculture. I allowed myself to make a little joke about politicians coming to the agriculture fair to pat the cows’ butts. I’m looking forward to our industrialists, and our ministers also coming to pat the machines’ butts. Because our industry in France accounts for 12% of GDP we need everyone to feel involved.

This growing awareness suggests we can make up for lost time and position Global Industrie as a premier European event. We have configured our fair with a whole ecosystem that our German friends don’t necessarily have. For example, at Hannover Messe, you don’t have machine tools. We have machine tools. When you’re at EMO, you don’t have subcontractors. We have subcontractors. Our event is smaller today than our German counterparts, I recognize that. But with political representation and major media coverage, we can reclaim our status as a pivotal European gathering.”

Will foreign manufacturers be more present this year?

Sébastien Gillet: “Currently, 25% of exhibitors are foreign. When a French subsidiary exhibits, we classify it as French. But if we focus on parent companies, this reveals a more substantial presence, reaching 50%, for instance. I reckon that our progress in terms of foreign exhibitor representation hasn’t been significant. Our priority lies in ensuring a robust representation of French entities, including small and medium-sized enterprises, at the Parisian event. Transitioning to the next phase entails attracting more international exhibitors.”

Will President Macron attend the fair like he does every year, like every president, to the agricultural fair?

Sébastien Gillet: “Global Industrie is inevitably on the radar of the French President. I know he has some priorities, perhaps international ones. But we’ve come a long way. Industry was completely ignored in 2010. No minister, no major media coverage, no youth, nothing at all. If the President, when he was then the Minister of Economy, hadn’t pushed for this major industrial gathering, I don’t think we would be where we are now. Let’s not forget that in 2018, he even organized a kickoff at the Élysée Palace where he invited 250 industrialists. That has never happened under any president. So today, this political awareness is there. Now, if you ask me if I would have liked the President of the Republic to be there, of course. But I believe that every event organizer would like the President of the Republic to be there. Now, he can’t be everywhere. But if there are six ministers, it will mean a lot.”

And what about the leaders of other political parties who rushed to the agricultural fair last month? Will they be there too?

Sébastien Gillet: “Well, I just found out that we have quite a few contacts with certain leaders of parties running in the European elections who will certainly be present in the aisles, but I don’t have confirmation yet.”

Is the alternating schedule between Paris and Lyon still relevant? Because for stability, it’s not necessarily ideal, right?

Sébastien Gillet: “We believe that the industry isn’t solely centered in Paris. You have a certain type of exhibitors, visitors in Lyon who are much more users of the equipment. And a little less in Paris. We have 70% of common exhibitors but only 7% of common visitors between the Parisian and Lyonnais editions. So there is currently a coherence for us to have an alternation between Paris and Lyon. 

We need to hold exhibitions, of course, for business. Above all, we need to organize a fair when there is legitimacy, when there is a catchment area, when there is a need. We fully meet that demand when we have a presence every other year in Paris and Lyon. The 2023 Lyon edition, with its 38,000 visitors, completely illustrated this legitimacy.”

Are exhibitions still the place to make sales?

Sébastien Gillet: “Are exhibitions still the place to make sales like they were twenty-five or thirty years ago? Perhaps not as much, let’s be honest. However, trade shows remain instrumental in the creation and finalization of projects. The success of the 2023 exhibitions demonstrates this. Attendees come to trade shows with the intent to initiate or conclude projects, or simply to network. Therefore, Global Industrie will once again showcase this dynamic. While physical machine purchases may have decreased, there are still instances where machines are signed on-site and delivered directly to customers.”