A new way of networking for the open innovation community

Thales Group
2 min readJun 30, 2021


Amidst the COVID-19 crisis, we witnessed a general impulse towards open innovation. Companies, universities, governments, and startups working together to win business makes more and more sense.

Creating value through shared expertise, skills, and means is the core purpose of the Thales startup acceleration program, AI@Centech. However, generating encounters and the exchanges of ideas while respecting sanitary regulations has been a real challenge and requires a transformation in practices.

So, after completing two successful seasons and while poised to launch a third season with startups, the AI@Centech team tested the Gather.town platform to organize a remote networking event to connect its Alumni to the whole Thales community and its partners.

Innovation, inside and out

As a simple and easy way to create a virtual space, Gather.town allows participants to navigate and interact, as they would do in an actual physical event. In the space divided by Thales markets, 69 professionals were able to network simultaneously in a smooth experience.

This virtual networking event facilitated connections and generated twelve follow-up meetings to investigate future collaborations.

Key players from all parts of the world were present to contribute in the open-innovation platform strategy: Alumni startups of the AI@Centech program, major stakeholders from Thales markets, in addition to the trusted partners and members of the Montreal innovation platform such as the Centech, CCFIC, DGA, AID, and the Creative Destruction lab.

This collaborative and human centric approach represents the AI@Centech program where innovation, business and technologies bring people and ideas closer together.

Join us for future events on the topic of AI in critical mission systems by contacting us at ai-at-centech@thalesdigital.io or learn more on our website: https://ai-at-centech.com/.

Participants’ testimonials

This event recreated all the great things about in real life conferences: serendipitous meetings while walking around and impromptu conversations with people across sectors. We made a lot of connections that will hopefully grow into close partnerships!

- Elena Ponte, Co-Founder at Zumo Labs — San Francisco (Season 2 AI@Centech startup)

The friendly nature of the platform and the quality of the people present made this event original and rich in discussions. One of my best online networking events.

- Richard Chenier, CEO at Centech — Montreal

It was great connecting with such high-potential startups and the [AI@Centech] team did a fantastic job putting the event together. The event brought into focus how collaboration across the network can bring open innovation to the fore.

- Danielle King, Venture Analyst at Creative Destruction Lab — Montreal

This event showed Thales’ commitment to find innovative ways to connect with customers and partners in a new digital world smashing barriers of time and distance!

- Judy Weber, Vice President of Operations for Thales North America



Thales Group

We’re investing in digital and “deep tech” innovations to build a future we can all trust, vital to our societies’ development. thalesgroup.com