digital still at the forefront in Brittany, especially around Rennes and Saint-Malo

The Las Vegas CES it is the great annual mass of technologies and electronics. 200 French start-ups are present there, including six from Brittany. The weight of digital in Brittany, and in particular in Ille et Vilaine, where we spoke about it with the director of Pool, the association that oversees French Tech Rennes/Saint-Malo.

What is Pool?

So Pool, which you also know as French Tech Rennes/Saint-Malo, is an association that encourages the creation and development of startups.

And in terms of innovation and digital, Ille-et-Vilaine has a lot to do…

We are a territory where historically there have been many innovations. It all started in the 1970s with telecommunications with the Minitel. All of that became the Internet, so we became very strong in digital as well. So there are many digital companies that you know about, like Klaxoon. We’ve also become very strong in digital disciplines like cybersecurity. Rennes is really one of France’s strongholds, the second stronghold after Paris, but also e-health. And there are also other areas of innovation that are developing, such as the carbon-free industry.

And then you help these startups, these companies, to develop, to find money?

Yes exactly, that’s it. In fact, we help them in two ways. In a very direct way, we offer courses for entrepreneurs. So you’re starting a start-up project tomorrow with an innovation, you’re going to knock on the cluster’s door and we’re going to be the front door. We will guide the entrepreneur on his path, advising him and also putting him in contact with all the actors in the territory who are useful in the development of mini start-ups and that is why these actors are gathered in the association. Poool has 500 members, 250 startups that we support, but also all players in the innovation chain, investment funds, service companies, other university support structures. So, part of our job is to support them directly with advice and another is to do a lot of networking and create a link between all these players.

What is the portrait today of those who have digital ideas in Brittany?

It’s quite diverse. There are companies that are created by the students who are present at CES. There are companies made up of executives with fifteen or twenty years of experience, people who have an idea in their garage, researchers who come out of a laboratory in Rennes. There are still few companies that come out of research laboratories or universities. But what you have to remember is that it’s very varied.

How is the sector currently after Covid and in full inflation?

It’s a real question. What we see here at the moment is that things aren’t going too bad. It’s doing well even for most startups that launch and continue to do well. And we see that in the job market, which is still very, very tight when it comes to recruiting engineers, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity profiles.

There are many vacancies…

There is strong recruitment activity. You can find the offers on our website. pool.tech
. Businesses here are very much supported by their ecosystem, by the State and specifically in Rennes. We are also in areas that continue to function. We are talking about digital security or cybersecurity, areas that are growing.

What’s the point of attending CES in Las Vegas?

CES, the Consumer Electronics Show, is the big mass of, say, the beginning of innovation in consumer electronics. But it became the technology fair. There are 100,000 people, everyone is there. So the first entry key for startups is when they seek to become visible, to be displayed. It’s a show where we’ll talk about connected objects, technologies, but also, finally, all the applications, the connected car, connected health and the connected home. So it’s pretty big.

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