France is the No. 12 most innovative country in the world according to Global Innovation Index, with roughly 10,000 start-ups. This hotbed for start-ups represents an opportunity for growth and innovation for large corporates, which have shown increased interest in working with entrepreneurs via financial investments or incubator programmes. Here, we take a closer look at this budding win-win relationship.

Start-up approach

In today’s world of non-stop technological development and heightened competition, now more than ever businesses have to take an innovative approach to anticipating new customer needs if they want to set themselves apart from the pack. The time when Research & Development departments worked exclusively behind closed doors is a thing of the past! This is a new era of working closely with partners in the field and co-building.

And what better solution could there be than teaming up with a start-up? Start-ups enjoy a naturally more agile structure that makes them ideal for testing out new ideas and learning. And from Day 1 they are focused on a new perspective, with a new understanding of customer needs. For example, helping HR departments by taking technology previously reserved for e-commerce and tailoring it to recruitment.

What are the benefits for entrepreneurs?

First and foremost: funding. 2019 was a banner year, with French start-ups raising €5.1 million. Some companies, such as CNP Assurances, even have funds specialising in start-up investment. Through its Corporate Venture fund, Open CNP, CNP Assurances finances insurtech, fintech and e-health start-ups. Most recent investment to date: the UK company Moneybox which sells a mobile app designed to help individual clients build and grow savings.

In addition to funding, large corporates provide their young partners with a variety of resources and services, including office space, tech solutions, and business, legal or HR expertise. Not to mention the opportunity to network with other large corporates, private investors, client communities, etc.

This support often takes the form of incubator programmes: Village by Crédit Agricole, Platform58 (La Banque Postale), La Maison des start-up (LVMH), Look Forward (Showroomprivé), etc. From banking to fashion to e-commerce, nearly all large corporates have developed incubators!