One of the campaign promises of Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo was to set up 200,000 m² of startup incubators, teleworking centres and coworking spaces in the city by 2020 by creating an “Innovation Arc” between Porte de Versailles and Les Batignolles. With currently over 100,000 square metres of startup incubators in the city, it’s already halfway there. And it’ won’t stop there: in November, Le Cargo, an incubator financed by the Paris City and Greater Paris regional councils, will open a 15,000 m²-space for around one hundred startups and fifty companies, and in 2016, the 33,000 m² Halle Freyssinet, the world’s biggest digital incubator, will open just a few metres away from Austerlitz station.
— Anne Hidalgo (@Anne_Hidalgo) 7 Avril 2015
Paris, THE NEW Silicon Valley
For the past fifteen years or so, venues dedicated to startups and the digital sector have been springing up all over the French capital. There are currently over 40 structures, including incubators to get young talents started and accelerators to help them with expansion and fundraising.
At the moment, when open innovation is a major trend and major groups are increasingly looking to collaborate with startups, many of these places are private, like the Crédit Agricole bank’s “Village,” which houses around a hundred startups, and BNP Paribas’ “We are Innovation” programme and 1,600 m² space in central Paris. But the city also has a number of public structures like Welcome City Lab, the world’s first incubator dedicated to tourism, or Le Tremplin, a sports and innovation platform.
See TechOnMap, the collaborative map of Paris’ digital ecosystem
LE CARGO, HALLE FREYSSINET: INcubation ON A MASSIVE SCALE
Meanwhile in the 19th arrondissement, the old MacDonald warehouse, one of the city’s biggest buildings, Le Cargo will soon be welcoming its first startups. Eventually, over 1,000 people will be able to work in the 15,000 m² venue. Partly financed by the Paris City and Greater Paris Regional councils and social landlord RIVP, the project is run by Paris&Co Incubateurs, an organisation in charge of boosting the city’s appeal and innovation. In the words of Jean-Louis Missika, Deputy Mayor in charge of town planning and economic development:
“It’s the flagship for our policy to promote startups, and is also one of Paris’s biggest incubators.”
But Le Cargo won’t be France’s biggest incubator for long: in 2016, the high-profile French serial entrepreneur Xavier Niel will be inaugurating the Halle Freyssinet, the world’s biggest incubator. With 1,000 startups housed in a 33,000 m² space, this former railway station annex in the city’s 13th arrondissement will be the locomotive driving digital entrepreneurship in France and all over the world!
Photo credit: 1000 start-ups