ParisTech Entrepreneurs celebrates its 15th anniversary: ”the sinews of war is financing”
The incubator ParisTech Entrepreneurs just celebrated its 15th birthday in 2014. Since its creation in 1999, it has claimed its participation in the creation of more than 300 start-ups – a figure reached in November 2013 – at the origin of 2,200 jobs, for a figure consolidated sales of more than 100 million euros (figures from of a survey conducted in 2013 by ParisTech Entrepreneurs among 253 startups, editor’s note).
More details with Pascale Massot, head of the incubator ParisTech Entrepreneurs.
Frenchweb: ParisTech Incubateur has just celebrated its 15th anniversary. How has the ecosystem evolved since 1999?
Pascale Massot: 15 years ago, innovation aid was granted very easily. Oséo was more from a financial and banking perspective than from a logic of financing innovation. I’m glad to see we’re coming back to it. Many more funds are also coming to see us. This is important because the sinews of war is funding. What they look at above all are the fundamentals: the team and the use in terms of market potential. However, I regret that venture capitalist are reluctant to invest in hardware which they still consider too risky.
If we want France to retain a certain industrial capacity, and recreate the jobs lost in the sector, we need an industrial transformation and help the companies that develop physical products: the funds are necessary to pay for the manufacturing molds, the first series. … Things are starting to change, especially since the arrival of Bpi France, even if there is still a long way to go.
For start-ups, there was very little seed capital. If there are more today, we are still far from an American or Israeli model. Even in priming, the venture capitalist are still waiting for the company to present its first customers and for the product to be well advanced in its development. Of course, there are counter-examples like Pretty Simple – the origin of the game Criminal case on Facebook – which raised 300,000 euros in 2010 fromIdinvest, while the final product was not yet developed.
Since 1999, support and incubation structures, whether private or public initiative, have multiplied in the capital. How do you see this competition for ParisTech Incubator?
In 1999, engineering schools did not deal with entrepreneurship. Today, mentalities have changed enormously. The crisis is there for something: we need alternatives. Business creation is now seen as a window. And the development of structures is good for the ecosystem.
ParisTech Incubator has one advantage: that of being specialized. Partner schools and laboratories provide us with their networks. And, above all, we are tailor-made and welcome, in Paris, only 22 new projects per year.
How do you plan to develop the ParisTech Incubator projects in the next two to three years?
We are going to better structure our support. 18 months is a short time for innovation. Longer-term support is being studied.
Emphasis will also be placed on mentoring, whether it comes from graduates who are now in large companies – and who know the markets and their trends – or from entrepreneurs who have experienced the creation of projects and who can contribute their skills. There is real intergenerational solidarity.