Several years ago the city of Bordeaux saw the emergence of a new type of entrepreneurship and a dynamic leading to the set-up of support structures.
The ecosystem is thriving and has been extended with new public and private initiatives, incubators, accelerators, etc.
This phenomenon, which is not unique to Bordeaux, changes the economic landscape dramatically but is difficult to measure while the concepts of start-ups, the entrepreneurial ecosystem, innovation and incubators are still unclear.
Who are the major players in the Bordeaux area? What is their specialization? What are their strengths?
Jobs, start-ups and fundraising in Bordeaux
What is a start-up? A start-up is not necessarily a young company which is a product of the digital era. It is characterized by innovation in the broad sense, evolving in an uncertain and changing environment, in search of a business model but predominantly destined to grow and expand internationally.
With 70 start-ups identified by the firm Trendéo and 1,165 jobs created over the period 2014-2016, the Bordeaux employment area appears to be one of the most dynamic in comparison with other major French cities.
Of the 15 cities studied, Bordeaux finished in 3rd position (excluding Paris) in these two criteria.
Fundraising for start-ups since 2014 has also been recorded for this period. Again, Bordeaux is in 3rd place, after Lyon and Montpellier, with €84 million raised over this period.
Overall, the 15 cities stand out for their over-representation in services and head office activities, while industry is under-represented.
Overview of the Bordeaux entrepreneurial ecosystem
As part of her internship at Bordeaux Gironde Investissement during her second-year Master’s degree in Local Planning and Development, Ariane DUCAMIN worked to produce an overview of the Bordeaux entrepreneurial ecosystem.
5 elements contribute to the construction of an entrepreneurial ecosystem, to which must be added the influence of the cultural and historical particularities of the area:
- The universities and grandes écoles
- The qualified and specialized workforce skills pool
- Companies specializing in a particular field
- Funding and support
- The involvement and support of public authorities
Bordeaux metropolitan area has many public and private players tasked with supporting start-up creation.
An approach via the support structures which form the entrepreneurial ecosystem is preferred, not including funding, co-working, business centers and Fab Labs.
These help support project leaders and accelerate the development of start-ups.
3 mechanisms have been identified:
- Historical playerswhich shape the entrepreneurial landscape: Bordeaux Unitec Technopole, Bordeaux Technowest, Bordeaux Montesquieu, the Agence Aquitaine du Numérique (AEC) and its incubator, Auberge Numérique.
- Regional mechanisms: the regional development and innovation agency, Agence de Développement et d’Innovation Nouvelle Aquitaine and the Région Startup program.
- Emerging players supported by business leaders, large groups, schools or universities, for example: 1Kubator (digital projects incubator), Héméra (business accelerator), Startup Booster (digital and e-commerce accelerator), Le Village by CA (Crédit Agricole, open innovation spaces), Théophraste (Sud-Ouest Group, digital and information processing accelerator), Inseec Incub (Inseec, incubator) and Cdiscount Startup Booster.
Depending on the type of support, it is possible to differentiate these structures according to their sector specialization. While digital services are over-represented, the structures are generally non-specialized or open to any sector.
It was FrenchTech certification in 2014 which uncovered this dynamic Bordeaux ecosystem.
Bordeaux start-ups, meanwhile, are operating in innovative key sectors, particularly digital/IoT, life sciences, agribusiness including wine, e-commerce, the collaborative economy, mobility and environmentally friendly activities.
Bordeaux, an attractive city in which to start a company
In the ranking of the cities best suited to starting a business, compiled by the magazine L’Entreprise/L’Expansion in 2016, Bordeaux ranked 4th among the cities with more than 500,000 inhabitants for its entrepreneurial ecosystem: clusters, public incubators, competitiveness hubs, technology parks, business nurseries and the Bordeaux French Tech initiative all contribute to this high ranking.
The city has had a record company creation rate at 16.9% for the last few years (number of companies created/number of companies) while the French average peaked at 12.5% in 2015. Also, INSEE surveys show that the projects supported by these public or private structures saw their likelihood of success increase quite substantially.
The Bordeaux ecosystem has many assets: its accessibility, richness and vibrancy, as described thus by Eric Culnaert: “Vibrant, attractive and on a human scale“.
Delegate-General of French Tech Bordeaux, Xavier Lainé acknowledged that these players are not competing but play complementary roles, saying: “In Bordeaux, projects always end up being redirected to the right support structures“.
(Sources: dissertation, Ariane Ducamin, Bordeaux University, Trendéo, Invest in Bordeaux)