France Digitale, the leading association of the French startup ecosystem, celebrated its 10th anniversary on Wednesday (28 September). The opportunity for Maya Noël, its managing director, to take stock of ten years of radical innovation and explain the sensational entry of start-ups into the French economy.
” In 2012, our goal was to raise 500 million euros in one year. Today, we sometimes reach 500 million euros in a single fundraising, for a single company “. The tone is set, and it is without hesitation that Maya Noël speaks of a ” paradigm change “: ” the entire ecosystem has developed, the support structures are legions, we even have a dedicated branch within the Directorate-General for the Company “.
France Digitale was created in 2012 with the aim of bringing together start-ups and consistently representing their interests with investors and public authorities. Today ” the 1st French and European Technological Community »according to the organization’s manifesto, it represents 1,800 start-ups, out of 13,000″ innovative companies companies listed by France Strategy in a 2021 report. It is estimated that these innovative companies represented 114,000 jobs in 2018.
To show the force of attack of this new French digital economy, such is the mission of Maya Noël: “ today it is possible to say that a French start-up can have an international influence. France Digitale’s slogan ‘let’s play together’ takes on its full meaning: we have the collective ambition to create European champions “.
Faced with the crisis, optimism
As business morale is at rock bottom and the economic and energy crises are hitting Europe hard, the latest EY Barometer of startups’ economic health reveals optimism in good shape: 39% of them count double their turnover in 2023.
” Start-ups are subject to economic conditions like any other business. But our optimism comes from the fact that they meet current needs », analyzes the general manager.
According to her, digital allows cost optimization, which translates into lower prices for services that all French people need. ” We have companies that respond directly to inclusion or education issues. See Ornicar, which allows individuals to pay 30% less for a driver’s license: this concerns all French people “.
And realize that, unlike a large group, ” a start-up can enter a new market at the right time and adapt its offer to demand. Big companies are much less agile. »
Digital and the environment go hand in hand
Digital technology, therefore, has its place in answering the crucial questions of the moment, first and foremost, global warming. Mrs. Noël sees proof of this in the arrival of Christophe Béchu, Minister for Ecological Transition, to close the conference. A debut for France Digitale.
” There is a general awareness on the part of young companies to integrate the environment into their decision-making – even if obviously not all of them have the ecological transition at the center of their economic models. “explains the general manager.
What the EY barometer confirms: “ 37% [des start-ups] declare having done a carbon assessment in 2021, and 33% are labeled as “company with a mission” “. In 2021, a study by Banco de Investimento Público, in partnership with France Digitale, carried out the first “mapping” of “impact” start-ups in 2021: more than 700 companies were listed as active in favor of the environment. .transition, with 4.4 billion euros in funds raised.
However, isn’t there a paradox between preserving the environment and a particularly energy-intensive digital world? ” The interest is less in technology as such, which is just a tool: let’s first see how we use it retorts Mrs. Santa. ” The impacts can be huge: we still need to be educated to use this technology in the best conditions. “.
Synergies between start-ups and public authorities
Do French and European executives measure the extent of the economic and technological burden this represents?
” There is a desire in Brussels to bring in big European companies. Legislation like the DMA [Digital Markets Act] and DSA [Digital Services Act] show a desire to regulate the European market in order to give companies more legal clarity and protect them against the hegemony of certain large groups », analyzes the general manager.
The same thing with the French government: in ten years, “The communication channel was opened. Today, at a conference like ours, we received two ministers and several members no surprise.
The creation of French Tech, through which the State supports the development of innovation centers in French cities, testifies to this enthusiasm. And Mrs. Noël added: the creation of the ‘French Tech visa’, which allows attracting foreign talent to contribute to the influence of French start-ups, was a victory “.
But the construction sites still deserve to be opened: “Today, if a start-up wants to develop in another European country, it has to deal with sometimes radically different administrative realities. There are real regulatory barriers “, she explains.
According to her, Europe lacks a European “preference” in public order, unlike the United States “ who know how to defend their innovative companies, which contributes to their economic development “. Thus, certain European tenders, due to their complexity and long deadlines, are not at all suitable for start-ups, and large American groups are taking advantage of them.
Working together with all stakeholders, supporting the creation of “regulatory sandboxes” to facilitate access to new European markets, harmonizing the European regulatory framework… Vast issues that only confirm one thing: France Digitale has bright days ahead .