After business start-ups, the time is ripe for “innovation” accelerators.
Thanks to the establishment of the French Tech Acceleration Fund in 2015, and in response to the strong demand from start-ups, private accelerators are proliferating throughout every region of France.
Alongside the future Cite Numérique (Digital City) and its TRIPO start-up platform, and other public acceleration programs, a growing number of private initiatives are emerging in Bordeaux, representing all business sectors: tourism, wine, health and real estate, etc.
This has been reflected in the recent economic news.
From incubators to accelerators…
Under the impetus of the French Tech scheme, driven by the constant desire to innovate and the development of French entrepreneurship, new generations of incubators are being established.
Whereas incubators formerly supported academic and scientific projects in a specific framework managed by local authorities and public or semi-public schemes, “accelerators” are created by private initiatives promoted by successful entrepreneurs accompanied by venture capital funds.
“Accelerators” are structures involved in the “business” aspects of start-ups. The support given concerns business models, the structuring of commercial processes, preparation for rapid growth phases and fund raising, etc.
This type of model relies on expertise and a mentoring system proposed by entrepreneurs.
Private accelerators to support start-ups in Bordeaux
“Bordeaux benefits from key assets for attracting and promoting the emergence of outstanding international businesses thanks to the existence of investment funds, development potential with a very high proportion of students and extremely competitive set-up costs” explains Julien Parrou, President of Bordeaux Entrepreneurs.
Growth accelerators are developing throughout the Bordeaux metropolitan area, offering a range of consulting services, providing contacts and, in particular, helping to raise funds for digital start-ups.
One year after the awarding of the French tech label, three private accelerators have been created in the Bordeaux metropolitan area within the space of a few months.
Initially established in Darwin in 2015, the 1Kubator incubator is a launch network designed to help first-time entrepreneurs and students launch their start-ups.
Bordeaux is one of the first cities to host this concept devoted entirely to the digital sector, through a call for projects targeting new entrepreneurs on an online platform.
Frederic Sitterlé, the Director of 1Kubator Bordeaux states that Bordeaux was chosen “because it has a very dynamic digital ecosystem”.
The first intake of candidates will take place in Lyon and Bordeaux during the first quarter of 2016.
30 brand new start-ups will be incubated in this way each year.
The most innovative projects will be funded through a €25,000 investment grant in the form of cash, services and products amounting to approximately 10% of their capital. These equity investments will be carried out by the 1Kvest dedicated investment fund.
1Kubator makes five incubation tools and production solutions available to entrepreneurs (business start-up kit, web and production platform, partnerships, etc.).
This gives young business creators access to support from 100 mentors and company directors.
The Héméra start-up accelerator created by five Bordeaux-based entrepreneurs was officially launched in December 2015 with an initial selection phase to identify promising start-ups.
Any innovative start-ups with high growth potential can apply with no preference given to specific sectors.
There are four cornerstones to Héméra’s business model: the accelerator, start-up hosting, the entrepreneurs’ café and training delivered to members as well as outside companies.
In contrast to other accelerators, Héméra does not take a participating interest in the capital but supports the start-up until the fund-raising phase in which Héméra participates alongside investors.
For the time being, the first start-ups are being hosted on the premises of ConcoursMania, in Bordeaux, via an office-rental platform, pending their move to a 2,000 m² city-center site during 2016.
33 Entrepreneurs, founded in Bordeaux in 2013, is an accelerator specializing in wine, gastronomy and tourism. It aims to promote the emergence of world leaders in these three fields of French excellence by harnessing new technologies. It has already supported more than 40 projects and invested in 10 international start-ups – two American, two French, and six from other European countries.
After mobilizing over one million euros in equity capital to launch its first two wines, 2016 will see the arrival of a third intake of successful applicants.
After calling for international applications, 33entrepreneurs then offers intensive support combining financial investment and mentoring over a three-month period in order to boost the growth of these innovative international start-ups.
In order to bring these international companies to Bordeaux, the accelerator runs international competitions to detect suitable start-ups (over 40 to date) and invests in their capital.
The 100%-private investment fund takes a participating interest of €15,000 to €100,000 in the chosen start-ups, which amounts to between 3% and 6% of the capital. The start-ups then spend three months on premises occupying 400 m² in the Chartrons district of Bordeaux, where they “accelerate” their projects with the aid of mentors and the 33entrepreneurs team.
Private initiatives to boost growth and innovation
Alongside these accelerators run by young companies can be found other start-up development structures developed by large groups (SNCF, Orange, La Poste, etc.).
The relationships between start-ups and major groups are being consolidated and a new model is emerging. According to the “David and Goliath” report by RAISE, no fewer than eight accelerators and four corporate venture funds were launched by companies in the CAC 40 French stock market index during 2015 alone.
And in 93% of cases, having links with a major company has a positive influence on the young company’s growth.
Le Village by CA arrives in Bordeaux
Le Village by CA, launched in Paris by the Crédit Agricole bank, is an example of such a scheme, which has just been repeated in Bordeaux.
This new business accelerator, launched on a city-center site in early 2016, is the latest initiative to arrive in Bordeaux and is run by the Crédit Agricole Aquitaine regional banking fund. It will start operating in September of this year.
On the 1,000 m2 Bordeaux site acquired by Crédit Agricole Aquitaine, thirty start-ups in the acceleration phase or at the very end of their incubation period can rub shoulders with innovative companies and benefit from close contact with the major partners of the project.
The aim is to promote cooperation among start-ups, major national groups and regional intermediate-sized enterprises (GT Location, Groupe Pichet, etc.) with a view to boosting innovation.
Digit’Halles: an e-commerce center of excellence
Digit’Halles – the first dedicated e-commerce center in the Aquitaine region – started operating on a 1,000 m² site close to Bordeaux Airport in 2015.
Bringing together stakeholders, businesses and specialists in e-commerce in Aquitaine, the aim of this venture is to create a center of excellence for the e-commerce sector.
It offers a range of shared tools and services designed to make life easier for creative professionals in the e-commerce sector (customer service, webmarketing, a photo/video studio, logistics platform and training), in addition to offices and advice on financing and fund-raising.
The CEB Lab supporting the digital sector
The Bordeaux Conference and Exhibition Center has also launched its own Lab project by making its events and venues available for experimentation by companies in the digital sector.
In this way, it acts as a project incubator for the “live” testing of services and other innovative solutions for start-ups, companies, schools and universities.
The CEB Lab forms part of a digitalization strategy aiming to make Bordeaux one of France’s top three business tourism destinations.
The “French IoT by La Poste” program
“French IoT by La Poste” is an innovation support program for the Internet of Things. Adapted on a local basis – including in the Aquitaine region – this program aims to develop future French champions in the Internet of Things and unify a rapidly expanding sector.
Relying on a network of local and national stakeholders, the “French IoT” program has facilitated the emergence of 100 highly promising French IoT projects. 15 of them have benefited from international promotion with the backing of major French groups.
The Sud-Ouest’s Media incubator
As a venture into the field of innovation, the Sud-Ouest newspaper will be launching a start-up incubator for the media sector in 2016, with the potential to develop positive synergies in fields such as data processing and geolocation.
The1kubator incubator has forged a partnership with Sud-Ouest.
The Investor Pitch tour comes to Bordeaux
Supported by SNCF and Bpifrance, France Digitale will be stopping at Bordeaux during the second edition of the Digital Tour de France for the national start-up competition.
France Digitale is an association involving entrepreneurs and investors in the digital sector, which seeks to organize the development of the French digital sector.
In 2015, 10 young entrepreneurs tried their hand at the difficult task of presenting an investor pitch to a panel consisting mainly of investors.
In another event – the Ticket for Change Tour – 50 young entrepreneurs embark on a journey on which they can share their socially oriented innovations.
The aim is to obtain professional advice, create their own networks and publicize projects in five cities that host stages of the event, including Bordeaux.
Other private initiatives include BNP and its BNP Innov scheme, ENGIE and its Openinnov marketplace dedicated to innovation in Bordeaux, the SNCF and the Open Innovation competition … and Bordeaux has been involved in all of them.