There’s no summer break for innovation in Lyon. On 10 July 2015, the city launched a competition that will allow a number of startups with projects with a social or environmental impact to join an international acceleration programme. Set up in partnership with the city of Boston, Big Booster is the biggest international non-profit acceleration programme for early-stage startups. The applicants who qualify will get to go on a boot-camp with entrepreneurs and experts from the ecosystem and the three finalists will share a €100,000 prize.
Big Booster covers three sectors: digital, (IoT, smart city, etc.), healthcare (life sciences, eHealth) the environment (clean_technology), all areas with high economic potential. And the city of Lyon is something of a pioneer in these sectors, with a number competitive clusters, such as Imaginove (digital), Lyonbiopole (healthcare) and Axelera (chemistry and the environment). Boston is equally prolific in this area, with agencies such as the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, and is recognised as one of the world’s top 20 startup ecosystems. But having a digital, healthcare or clean tech project isn’t enough: to win the competition, the startups have to have a prototype or demo of their product or service and, naturally, have plans to launch on the international market.
Applications are open until 21 September 2015. Applicants must be based in the EMEA area.
bootcamps TO FAST-TRACK STARTUPS
After the first round, 100 shortlisted startups will be invited to go on a boot-camp in Lyon in October 2015 during the BlendWebMix, a French-language webmaker conference. With keynotes from company heads and experts from Lyon and Boston, the event is designed to help entrepreneurs fine-tune their business model and learn how to pitch their idea in Boston. But now everyone will make it across the Atlantic: only 20 startups will be chosen for the seminar in Boston in February 2016. And in April, the three finalists will share the €100,000 grant. This prize will be given out at the next Biovision, the world life sciences forum, organised by the University of Lyon foundation.
LYON AND BOSTON: A histoRY OF digital, science AND innovation
In March, Karine Dognin-Sauze, Vice President of the City of Lyon in charge of innovation and digital, went to the States to meet Karilyn Crockett, Director of Economic Policy & Research for the City of Boston, to launch the competition. Thanks to their joint competition clusters, the two cities already have strong ties in academia, via a partnership between the University of Lyon and Boston Law School and an exchange programme with MIT as part of DEVWECAN (a cancer research project). Lyon and Boston also share some economic interests as a number of companies from Lyon have set up in Boston, and vice versa.
The Big Booster programme should consolidate Lyon’s position in the global startup ecosystem and draw more ambitious entrepreneurs to the area.
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