CATHAY FORUM 2021 – Driving Meaningful Growth

April 21, 2022

On 7th of September 2021, Cathay Capital had the great pleasure of welcoming both online and in Paris, more than 350 global investors, ecosystem friends, speakers, for a day-long program full of knowledge sharing, intense debates and fruitful networking at Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild. This year, we have taken the opportunity of upgrading the entire event experience by combining the virtual live streaming with the physical event at the center of Paris.

Under the umbrella theme “Driving Meaningful Growth”, our speakers guided us through trendy topics as: How the Pandemic is Changing the Investment Scene; The Rise of Digital Health: Impact Economy; Post lockdown consumption patterns; The new world of insurance; The Cathay Unicorn Club and last but not the least: French Tech Scene – Transform Local Startups into Global Leaders, by the Secretary of State of Digital Transition and E-Communications of France – Cédric O.

Let’s take a look at the event highlights!


Ming-Po Cai – Opening speech

Knowledge is the most precious resource there is, it flows seamlessly across borders, and it grows as we share it. Cathay Capital cultivates an obsession for knowledge. It is the root of survival and the key to success. The Cathay Forum gathers our ecosystem every year with the aim of sharing valuable knowledge about the great trends moving our world. Investors, entrepreneurs, and partners around the world continue to trust Cathay because being useful is at the heart of our activities.





Pascal Lagarde – Keynote

The quest for sustainable impact is a crucial element in the paradigm shift that we are currently living. Pascal Lagarde reminded the audience of the longstanding partnership between bpifrance and Cathay Capital, initially supporting French and Chinese SMEs, by fuelling shared innovation and growth across countries. Pascal Lagarde underlined that bpifrance and Cathay share the same strategic vision of investors’ role and believe in enabling the innovators solving some of the world’s most pressing problems and actively building a more sustainable world by generating long term positive impact for all the stakeholders involved.




Patricia Barbizet (President at Témaris et Associé) – Keynote

“It takes such little time to change all things” said Victor Hugo, and indeed so much has changed over the past few months. The pandemic has accelerated trends which were already in motion, but in many ways, we are living a revolution more than an evolution. The abundance of liquidity brought about by central bank and government interventions has facilitated investments, but also rendered the search for yield more desperate and the new for new sustainable solutions to emerge. The pandemic has unplugged our societies, the reboot will have lasting consequences, especially in the field of education, healthcare, smart cities or space conquest.




Panel – How the pandemic is changing the investment scene

(Moderator: Fabien WESSE at Cathay Capital, Christophe LENOUVEL at BNP Paribas, Nitan PATHAK at European Investment Fund, Jean-Philippe BESCOND at Lazard, and Beatriz GONZALEZ at Seaya Ventures)


In the wake of the initial shock of the pandemic, financiers focused to protect their teams’ health and safety and their clients’ and participations’ assets. Jean-Philippe Bescond (Lazard), Beatriz Gonzalez, Christophe Lenouvel (BNPP) and Nitan Pathak (EIF) explained how themselves, their teams, institutions, and partners faced the crisis and trends they saw emerge in the past 18 months. As the investment scene became more and more polarised between winning and losing sectors, investors have accelerated their processes, and further aligned with the concerns of wider society.


Atul Butte (MD, PhD, Professor and Institute Director at the University of California)

Keynote – Maximize the use of data in Bioengineering

Data is often described as the new oil, but it would be more accurate to describe as soil, as a rich fertilizer enabling the planting and growth of ideas. The quantity of data generated across our societies is difficult to fathom. Furthermore, most of this data remains inactive and inaccessible. Advances in medicine however are showing us the way forward with regards to the pooling and mining of data through artificial intelligence. The results are in better diagnostics, better care and lives saved.



Panel – The Rise of Digital Health – Tech & Healthcare at a Crossroads

(Moderator: Eric de la Fortelle at Cathay Health, Atul BUTTE of the University of California, Jean-Francois PARISEAU at Amplitude Ventures, Dave HENDERSON at Daytwo, Ignacio H. MEDRANO at Savana Health)

There are natural hesitations with regards to innovations in medicine, after all we wouldn’t want our doctors to experiment on their patients. Yet the technological sector is moving at such speed and gathering so much data about our health, that refusing to consider the potential of MedTech has become unreasonable. As we have seen during this pandemic, machines, software and artificial intelligence assisting doctors in their practice is more than a possibility, in many ways it is already a reality. Atul Butte, Dave Henderson, Ignacio Medrano, and Jean-François Pariseau have shared their views and their joy that digital health is now becoming a reality.


Paul Hudson (CEO at SANOFI)

Keynote – Digital and technology innovation in healthcare

The pharmaceutical sector is in the; process of disrupting itself through digital innovation. With the potential of treating previously untreatable diseases, of accelerating research by several orders of magnitude, and of providing personalised care, digital innovation is ushering in a golden age of pharmaceutical discovery. Sanofi benefits from strong assets to foster this revolution, not least world-renowned chemists, mathematicians and engineers, and the willingness to lead the transformation, with the support of Cathay’s team to forge innovative partnerships.



Matthieu van der Elst (Chief Impact Officer at Cathay Capital)

Presentation – Impact investing – More than a Tick on the Check List

A generational shift, new awareness brought about by the pandemic and the increasing number of climate catastrophes, the strong and growing demand for sustainable investment offerings, these are some of the drivers behind the rise of impact investing. And this evolution of the investment sector is accompanied by a similar shift in the economy at large, as companies move from singular to platform business models, from vertical to horizontal strategies, and thus are building a new, circular economy.




Leaders’ insights – Reducing transportation impact on carbon footprint

(Moderator: Li ZHANG at Cathay Smart Energy Fund, Audrey MA at REFIRE, Veronica LI at SVOLT Energy Technology)

China is leading the way toward the next generation of battery technologies, thanks to ambitious national development targets as well as financial support for cutting-edge technical experts. And the innovative local actors in that field are ready to go global with clean energy solutions for transportation. Li Zhang and Audrey Ma from Cathay’s portfolio companies Refire and Svolt, expert designers and manufacturers of ground-breaking fuel cell systems, illustrated with their testimonials the connection between being useful and business success.


Gregory Boutté (Chief Client and Digital Officer at Kering)

Keynote – Renovate tomorrow’s luxury industry

Lockdowns weighed heavily on the luxury industry, where clients’ in-store experience is of paramount importance. Kering, however, has already completed its recovery to pre-pandemic levels thanks to its avant-garde strategic vision for the sector. The core emphasis on high quality craftsmanship and creativity of course will remain, but new dimensions are being pursued, as data will have a profound impact and as clients in the West and in China now expect the brands they love to take a stand and to contribute meaningfully.




Panel – Post Lockdown Consumption Patterns: Unlocking New Trends

(Moderator: Edouard MOINET at Cathay Capital, Guillaume GIRARD-REYDET at Pernod Ricard Iberia, Romano RICCI at Juliette has a gun, Victor LUIS at Moose Knuckles)

The stellar rise of China’s consumer market, which is set to continue for years to come, has been noticed by all. But how to reach new generations? What has been the impact of the pandemic on consumption habits for luxury, perfume, or spirits? Will events continue to be as important as before? Brands are investing in new communication channels via celebrities and influencers. More than ever, brands must tell a story and produce relevant media content. Even more than this, Victor Luis, CEO at Moose Knuckles, Romano Ricci, Founder and Artistic Director at Juliette has a gun, and Guillaume Girard-Reydet, Managing Director at Pernod Ricard Iberia explained how their brand increasingly commit to sustainability, in the sourcing of their products, and make efforts toward climate change mitigation.


Frank Desvignes (Global Head of Open Innovation at AXA)

Keynote – Co-creating the next in insurance

Both in-house and through partnerships, AXA Group is developing its capabilities in InsurTech, FinTech and MedTech to address new types of risk, to integrate new sources of data, to increase the speed and quality of its services, to anticipate the new regulatory landscape of digital identity and to generate new leads and better client experiences through a more social approach.





Panel – The new world of insurance – between consolidation, innovation and globalization

(Moderator: Jacky ABITBOL at Cathay Innovation, Tanguy TOUFFUT at Descartes Underwriting and Quentin COLMANT at Qover)

Whereas large insurance groups have the talent and resources to develop the innovative insurance solutions of tomorrow, they often rely on much smaller and more agile companies. Cathay’s portfolio companies Qover and Descartes Underwriting are two such companies which provide insurance to disruptive economic actors and coverage in the face of new climate risks respectively. Qover CEO Bruno Colmant and Descartes Underwriting CEO Tanguy Touffut explained how through data-driven technologies they open a way for a more global and more precise insurance sector.


Sharing – Siaci Saint Honoré / Diot and Cathay Capital – A Joint Journey

Pierre DONNERSBERG, Chairman at Siaci Saint Honoré

Christian BURRUS, President at Group Burrus

The recent merger between Siaci Saint-Honoré and Diot (Burrus Group), an operation supported by Cathay, hails the creation of the leading insurance broker on the European continent. The new player will seek to lead the insurance brokerage market in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. With its emphasis on the specialised technical expertise of its teams, the Group will begin its joint activities with the aim of rapidly increasing its revenues and international growth. Pierre Donnersberg and Christian Burrus shared their journeys as entrepreneurs and their enthusiasm for the joint creation of a new leader.


Yves Perrier (Chairman of the Board at Amundi)

Keynote – Adjusting to Change – Amundi’s Transformation

Though often praised for its strategic use of M&As, Yves Perrier highlighted that during his 14 years leading what has become Amundi, the company has always primarily relied on organic growth to reach the Top 10 in Asset Management globally. External acquisitions can only serve as accelerators of the internal dynamic of a company. Furthermore, a successful merger is only possible when the acquiror is growing and attractive and creates added value. For instance, in the field of IT, Amundi decided to develop its own capabilities and now sells its services and software to other financial actors, a great example of synergies that can benefit both internally and externally.




Panel – The Cathay unicorn club

(Moderator: Denis BARRIER at Cathay Innovation, Pascal GAUTHIER at Ledger, Enric ASUNCION at Wallbox, Noah HORTON at Unsupervised)


Billion-dollar valuations come to companies solving great problems. Whether it be the better management of energy consumption (Wallbox), turning dormant data into revenue (Unsupervised) or securing cryptocurrency wallets (Ledger), whatever the field, customers, partners and investors reward great solutions. Cathay’s Unicorn entrepreneurs Enric Asuncion, Noah Horton and Pascal Gauthier shared their beginnings, the deserts some have had to cross, the resilience and commitment needed to pierce through, the partnerships that led to success, and their ambitions for the coming years.


Keynote Cedric O – French Tech Scene – Transform Local Startups into Global Leaders

The French tech ecosystem has surged in the past few years. From 2.5 billion euros invested in 2017 to 5 billion euros in the first half of 2021 and from 3 French unicorns at the time to 17 today. Capital and talent are the two keys to development. France had talent, it needed reforms to align with the international standards structuring capital deployment. The government’s efforts in that field have produced strong results. We must now pursue our commitment to progress and convince the French people of the soundness of this path.


Closing remarks by Mingpo Cai

Each and every one of our participants today has shared with us insights into the future and shed a bit lighter on what is to come tomorrow for all of us. Cathay is where it is today thanks to every one of its members, thanks to our sharing together. Because we believe in caring and goodwill for all, we are welcomed wherever we go. Thanks to the participants, this gathering of the Cathay family, after two years without convening, has succeeded in its primary mission: being useful.