LVMH is on an innovation streak.
This week the Financial Times reported that the French luxury conglomerate will launch an e-commerce site with all of it 70 brands under Le Bon Marché, the Parisian department store the conglomerate purchased in 1984.
LVMH has declined to comment on the report, but is now seeking innovators for the launch of its latest prize for startups.
The luxury group has launched the LVMH Innovation Award, which will reward one of the companies participating in the second year of the Viva Technology show to be held in Paris from June 15 to June 17.
The competition is open to any startup from France or another country created less than five years ago with a valuation less than $100 million and whose activity has a connection with LVMH group sectors. Candidates can apply online from February 21 to March 31 on the “LVMH Innovation Award” page of Viva Technology’s website.
Much like its other prize for young fashion designers, a committee of experts representing LVMH Maisons, startups, journalists and investors will select a winner from a shortlist of 32 startups invited to be part of the Viva Technology event, giving them a chance to pitch their ideas and model to a broad audience. Following the pitch sessions, a final winner will be selected at show.
The prize winner will meet with LVMH group teams in charge of private equity investments to discuss potential relationships with the group and its brands. That could include mentoring, a partnership or investment, Ian Rogers, LVMH chief digital officer said in a WWD report.
The initiative was unveiled at a high-profile press conference at the Élysée presidential palace in Paris, led by Rogers, and attended by co-organizers of the tech event, Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO of LVMH, and Maurice Lévy, CEO of advertising and public relations agency Publicis.
France’s President, François Hollande, spoke at the conference noting that Paris has the biggest number of incubators in Europe.
“For the last few years, France has tried to be as welcoming as possible for start-ups and technology firms,” he said.
Arnault boosted the Viva Technology show, which was launched last year as a Luxury Lab welcoming start-ups that address the daily challenges of luxury businesses. Last year, the event had 45,000 visitors and 5,000 start-ups, including 6,000 CEO’s and 250 investors.
Lévy said France wants to turn Viva Technology into a leading global event, with scheduled guests this year including Peter Fenton, general partner at venture capital firm Benchmark, Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and CEO of General Electric,and Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of business development at Microsoft.
“We want to become the digital equivalent of the Cannes Film Festival,” she said.
Arnault also took advantage of the press conference to call for the French government to relax its regulations governing French firms.
“In the future, we can show that France is for the start-up world,” he said. “I hope it will also push the French government to be more helpful for the enterprises and the enterprise spirit in the future, instead of what has been a tradition in France — putting more and more fiscal pressure, more and more social rules, more and more regulatory rules that are blocking the enterprise.”