With a new startup fund set up by Partech and a number of initiatives to support digital projects flourishing in France, startups are increasing their chances of optimising their innovation capabilities.
In December 2014, Partech Ventures inaugurated the Partech Shaker in Paris, a new open innovation campus, to provide premises for around thirty startups. The initiative was sponsored by Econocom and other major groups such as Dentsu, BNP-Paribas, Lagardère Active and Saint Gobain. Last year the venture capital fund launched its first business angel fund with €30 million to develop projects involving mobile apps and innovations with big data, e-commerce and IoT.
Partech recently announced its second programme, Partech Entrepreneur II, which will fund a total of 70 new companies, investing between €300,000 and €1 million in one startup a month in the USA, France and other European countries. This new startup fund, currently the largest in Europe, has €60 million and its partners including Econocom, Carrefour, Edenred, Groupama Ingenico, Neopost, Renault-Nissan, Eric Carreel (chairman of French startup Withings), and the founder of Meninvest.
Partech Entrepreneur II is designed to support new projects in the field of IoT, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, SaaS and digital technologies for the education and healthcare sectors, and reflects the explosion in investments in IoT project over the past few years. According to Le Figaro, such investments in the US and Europe have increased fourfold in four years.
Investments in France on the rise
In January 2015, Orange announced it had set up Digital Ventures, a fund aimed at providing early-stage investment to international companies developing innovative solutions in areas in which the telecom giant has operations and predicts future growth. Orange will initially earmark €20m in the first year for companies developing innovative connectivity and networks, digital communication services and mobile payment solutions.
Axa, meanwhile, was one step ahead of the operator, having launched the Axa Seed Factory in 2013 to support startups with “disruptive ideas’’ in banking and insurance. With €10 million, the Axa Seed Factory is currently helping 5 new companies. At the beginning of 2015, the insurance group set up a €200 million venture capital fund, AXA Strategic Ventures, for innovations in the insurance, asset management and financial technology industries.
Consulting firm Altran Technologies also invested in a similar initiative earlier this year, launching a startup incubator for industrial IoT applications. In March, five companies were chosen to benefit from the programme.
Last year, HP France invested several million euros in a partnership with the Crédit Agricole banking group and business incubator Le Village by CA with 2 startup funding schemes. HP offers early-stage digital companies a “startup kit” including equipment and test periods for HP SaaS solutions. To give the twenty or so French companies selected a kick-start, HP will be offering them go-to-market support by introducing them to partners and clients. IBM’s Global Entrepreneur Program for Cloud Startups, which has been running for five years now, is currently focusing on attracting French cloud startups by offering them financial support and valuable contacts within the IBM ecosystem.
French tech startups on the whole are booming at the moment, and recently raised €33 million worth of funds, according to Le Figaro. Yet the USA and Silicon Valley is still the Holy Grail for young entrepreneurs. The French government is responding by launching various initiatives to attract overseas investors in an attempt to boost innovation opportunities and thus dispel France’s reputation as a graveyard for tech startups – as suggested in a rather provocatively-titled article in La Tribune: Startup : “mieux vaut vivre aux Etats-Unis que mourir en France”? (Startups: is it better to live in the States than die in France?”)
entrepreneurs. Les initiatives du gouvernement français pour attirer les grands investisseurs étrangers ont pour but d’insuffler de nouvelles opportunités pour l’innovation et sans doute de mettre fin aux polémiques sur l’inertie hexagonale, comme le relève la Tribune dans son article au titre provocateur Startup : « mieux vaut vivre aux Etats-Unis que mourir en France » ?