On the premises of Bpifrance in the heart of Paris’s 9th arrondissement, the Bpifrance hub opened in April 2015. This 1,000m2 space has already welcomed 10 innovative startups in the fields of biotech, clean-tech, digital, med-tech and innovative materials. Selected for their potential to become world leaders in their sector, they have all been given personalised assistance. The aim is to go beyond the initial growth phases and help them break into the market. And it’s working: after a year with the Hub, the first startups have enjoyed a 200% growth rate, are established in 10 countries, hired around fifty people and raised a total of €90 million in funds. And these impressive performances are a direct result of Bpifrance’s open innovation rationale.
HELPING startupS ACHIEVE hyper-GROWTH
So what exactly is the Bpifrance Hub? As Cécile Brosset, Director of Innovation for Bpifrance, explained to French financial daily Les Echos:
“The Bpifrance Hub is a place where we help existing startups achieve a certain level of growth. To do this, we put them in touch with large groups or midsize companies.”
Introducing them to major groups allows up-and-coming businesses to reach the critical stage of industrialisation and international expansion. Bearing in mind three out of four startups don’t reach the hyper-growth stage, this support is valuable.
BRINGING BUDDING COMPANIES AND LARGE groups TOGETHER
Case in point: the Hub was crucial for Selectionnist, a startup that makes an app that links advertisements from the press to e-commerce sites. Founder and director Tatiana Jama says:
“We needed help to get our foot in the door of major groups. With the Bpifrance Hub’s help, it’s easier for us to identify the right contacts because Bpifrance knows the structure of large groups inside out.”
And the Hub does even more for its protégés: the Bpifrance teams arrange regular meetings with the Purchasing Directors or even the executive committee of large groups. That’s how Delair Tech got the opportunity to present its services (using drones to inspect infrastructures) directly to Total’s Management. Benjamin Benharrosh, Sales and Marketing Director for Delair Tech, says: “Bpifrance has allowed us to get in touch with people we wouldn’t be able to get hold of by ourselves.”
PROMOTING OPEN innovation
The Bpifrance Hub is also a services platform for large and mid-size companies: “We help them define their vision of innovation and identify the startups they can work with,” explains Cécile Brosset.
In a spirit of openness, Bpifrance brings together large groups looking for innovation they can’t find in-house (because the structure of the company is too rigid, for example) and innovative startups looking for funding, clients or buyers. “A startup can offer a large group a new business model or use, even if the innovation doesn’t have much to do with the group’s core business,” Brosset adds.
Within just a few months, a number of partnerships have been set up with groups such as Allianz, Technicolor and E.Leclerc, which Cécile Brosset is particularly proud of:
“When you innovate together, you innovate more, better and for longer.”