They are on average less than three years old (44%), typically less than 9 employees (69%), tend to build more BtoB, and will, on the scale of a crisis year like 2020 , at least 744 jobs …
They are French tech startups in the Alps ecosystem, one of 13 French Tech capitals labeled at the national level. With particular particularity since its scope, after first incorporating the city of Grenoble (within Digital Grenoble) in 2014, then rapidly expanding to other Alpine cities as a French tech “Metropolis” in 2016 , then “Capital” in 2019 …
There are now 680 startups within one of the most dynamic ecosystems in France, which stood out last year for its fundraising activity. In young shoots based not only in Grenoble (56%), but also in Valence-Romans (15%), Annecy (13%), Chambéry (9%) and within the French Genevois (6%).
And a DNA specifically focused on the fields of health, sports, activities outside as well as energy, because almost half of the companies in the basin (43%) operate in one or more of these sectors.
“This barometer is important for us because it shows a certain number of trends that we see and also allows us to define more accurately what a startup is and what is really behind it. .”, said Julie Huguet, president of French tech at The Alps, and founder of the Coworkees platform, which is based in Annecy.
Conducted in collaboration with local authorities (Grenoble – Alpes Métropole, Valence Romans Agglo, Chambéry -Grand Lac Économie and Grand Annecy), this inventory is also a way of preparing for the future, and especially for a start again. labeling of French tech capitals, expected in September 2022. “We know we’re moving more towards impact reporting“, We slipped on the side of Grenoble.
The milestone of 3 years, a critical moment
Of the 282 respondents, this panorama made it possible to highlight several points: for example, the fact that the three-year milestone remains a major challenge for the development of alpine nuggets, as it represents the threshold where they are most in need of help, funding and visibility.
Given this ecosystem that has been labeled since 2014, most are currently in the stage of market access (38%), scaling up (29%) or expanding (18%), while startups in ideas represent only 1% of the total and of those in the launch stage, 11%.
Other features: “Although 72% of start-ups in the Alpine furrow have thrived in the field of BtoB, 44% do so with products and 56% with services, which is unusual and shows that they are well anchored in a region.highly industrial such as the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes“, said Julie Huguet.
On the technology side, Alpine arc is distinguished by a strong presence in the software (36%), AI (29%), data (open data, big data, and data analytics: 25%) segments. , as well as electrical and electronic technologies (19%) but also the Internet of Things (18%) or the cloud (17%).
Moreover, three-quarters of young alpine shoots have several strings in their bow and develop several technologies at the same time.
Willing to recruit, even in dangerous times
These startups are also proving to be active in the field of employment, because despite the crisis, 744 recruitments were made in 2020 by 163 companies. That’s an average of 4.5 jobs created by startups. “Even this figure hides inequalities by sectors, this shows that young shoots continue to hire, while traditional companies have, at one time, reduced sails ”.
But mainly on the side of their needs Julie Huguet draws lessons: apart from the roots of the war represented by the need for financing (for 60% of them), ”51% of these young companies cited the need for visibility and finding customers. However, this is a factor that is traditionally not covered by traditional support programs at this stage. The whole goal then should be to create bridges between the actors of the territory and these young shooters, to help them find their first customers faster ”.
With data not, however, activists in favor of entrepreneurship feminization can be satisfied:
“SOf all the 410 million euros raised, none of these operations were carried out by a single woman at the helm … We only have 2 startups with co-founders on this topic. Suffice it to show that during the crisis, inequality is widening in this field“, Believes Julie Huguet.
“In series A and B, everything happens (almost) in Paris”
On the still aspect of financing, which remains one of the roots of the war, the president of French Tech in the Alps said it seems relatively easy now to complete the “early stages” of fundraising, including the use of French Tech funds such as French Tech scholars. (2.1 million were collected by the local ecosystem in a year), along with business angels or structures such as Bpifrance. “It’s always just in series A and B that it gets more complicated“, he underlined.
And here the bottom always hurts because, as we noticed in the Next40 and FT120 rankings that certainly aim to highlight nuggets in the regions, a form of Paris centralism remains, specifically in terms of funding.
“We still have efforts to make, although we have nothing to be ashamed of since 410 million euros were raised last year by alpine start-ups, which puts us in second position after Paris.“, said the president.
Although the investment offer is still shy in the region, Julie Huguet notes both having funds like Kreaxi in Grenoble or Turenne in Lyon but also, following the Covid-19 crisis, the arrival of venture capitalists who built the region personally.
“We hope this can lead to the opening of branches here locally. Because right now, startups have no choice, they have to turn to investors andn venture capital which are mainly found in the capitals, in France and abroad“, he added.
Europe, the first gateway to the international
Moreover, the map of export destinations targeted by Alpine start-ups also shows strong ambition: 52% of companies are already developing worldwide, specifically in Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Italy or the United States, and 46% even earn more than a quarter. of their turnover there.
Europe still represents the most popular market (88%), compared with 40% for North America, or 24% for Asia, 9% for Africa and 7% for South and Central America, both on the side of the startups that are already exporting and those who are thinking about it.
“The geographical location of our region naturally puts us at the crossroads with Italy, Switzerland, as well as some regions in Europe from Lyon”, agrees Julie Hughet.
Finally, young shoots are not spared by the crying demand for labor, resulting in huge tension in the recruitment market. Of the 88% of start-ups that took over last year, despite their small size (most had less than 10 employees), alpine nuggets also faced the challenge of digging up good talent.
An issue they still put on the same scale of finding funds. “This is particularly significant in some professions such as IT developers. As long as France does not train more, this profession will remain scarce“, said the president of French Tech in the Alps. The challenges remain varied, however, because for others like Aledia, it is the transition from an R&D phase to industrialization in a high-technological field, which will bring strong recruitment issues to the Grenoble area (about 500 recruitments over 5 years).
Sometimes it is also the standard of living that complicates the deal, as in Annecy, where recruited employees have to deal with relatively high living standards, as well as poor prices per m2 for a town of province.
The double impact of the crisis on health
On the economic side, the health crisis will leave a double edged impact on the local fabric, as 41% of start-ups say they have been negatively affected by this episode, while 34% have seen the same positive. and negative effects.
“This is the effect of ‘kiss cool’ where time requires both to be nimble and find solutions to expedite, but at the same time results in a halt or delay regarding assistance or contracts expected. We also realize that EMPs are not calibrated to respond to the specific cases of startups, which has made the situation more complicated ”, said the president of French Tech in the Alps.
The inequality during this period can also be seen in another figure: although 410 million were collected in 2020, this total actually represents only 34 fundraisers (including 5 large companies), while six companies in 10 respondents said they needed funding.
On the unicorn side, the Alpine ecosystem will also have to wait a little longer: because apart from Aledia, winner of the Next40, the Alpine furrow has never seen a new candidate for this title.
“But the territory is still in the strengthening phase, where more and more startups are emerging to complete series A and B. Work is already starting, but it will take time.“, said Julie Huguet.