Young Enterprise Initiative Program - Start in France 2017: 10 young American startups discover the French innovation ecosystem

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Innovation, investment, networking and development. These are the key words for the 29 start-ups from five different countries (USA, Italy, South Africa, Taiwan and South Korea) invited to France in November 2017 to discover the vibrant French innovation ecosystem and its inherent opportunities for R&D investment and technology development.

These start-ups were the laureates of the 2017 edition of the Young Enterprise Initiative (YEi) - Start In France program supported by the French Ministry for European and Foreign Affairs and run by the Office for Science & Technology of the Embassy of France in the US, in partnership with Paris&Co the economic development and innovation agency of Paris.

After a call for applications in the spring of 2017, the start-ups were evaluated by a jury in each participating country, leading to the final selection of 29 companies.

Ten American companies were selected out of 62 applications, covering a variety of of technological fields:

- Biotech/Medtech: D&P Innovations, Photonicare, Surgical Innovation Associates, Xenotherapeutics
- Internet of Things, Robotics: Adjoint,Losant, Neurable, Sea Machine Robotics, Snapdragon
- Cleantech: Catalytic Innovations

Joining their fellow laureates, the ten US companies embarked for a week in France, on November 13-17, 2017, where they attended information sessions on innovation opportunities in France, customized one-on-one meetings with potential partners and networking events. Selected speakers from key innovation players in France, like Business France, Bpifrance and La French Tech, provided comprehensive overviews of French innovation ecosystems and incentives for expanding in France. Venues included the Quai d’Orsay (French Ministry of Foreign Affairs), and the world’s largest, brand-new start-up campus Station F in Paris.

All laureates had a personalized agenda of meetings with potential French partners: competitiveness clusters, research institutions or stakeholders. As France is not only Paris and has many regional clusters of excellence, laureates spent several days in selected regions of France. After Paris, some went to the pink southwestern city of Toulouse, others to the sunny French Riviera, the European capital city of Strasbourg or to the western Brittany city of Rennes…

The 10 American laureates enjoyed a special treat from the US Embassy in Paris, with a cocktail reception at the Chargé d’Affaires’ residence. In addition, the US Embassy’s Economic Counselor and Commercial Officer presented dedicated tools and programs meant to help young innovative American companies develop in France.

For these entrepreneurs, a week-long experience and a unique insight into a land of opportunity turned not only into satisfaction but also into actual promising contacts to build up their momentum and go global.

According to 95 % of the laureates asked whether the meetings held that week would lead to partnerships, the answer was an overwhelming “Yes!”, be it for future commercial relations or R&D cooperation or establishing subsidiaries in France.

Feedback from the 2017 participants was very positive and encouraging for the future of the program:

- “There may be no better way to learn about the rapidly growing French economic ecosystem for entrepreneurs. Thank you!”
- “YEi is a great programme for young innovative companies to visit France and discover the spirit of a start up nation.”
- “YEI helped make real connections that are leading to direct collaboration in that market. The information and education have assisted in making informed, strategic decisions on time.”
- “I was very impressed by the caliber of the meetings that were organized for me, and very thankful for all the support that was afforded.”
- “The YEI week is a unique tool for any high-growth start-up or tech company looking to establish a presence in Europe. I can highly recommend the program, as it has provided a clear runway into Europe.”
The Office for Science and Technology of the Embassy of France congratulates all of the 2017 YEi laureates for their participation and is looking forward to following the development of their projects in France. Stay tuned for the 2018 edition!