“Build more than an incubator, build an ecosystem”, advised Mr Anh-Tai Hoang, the manager of Euratechnologies on iEER the peer review visit to the Hauts-de-France region. Euratechnologies is a start-up incubator and accelerator for the ICT-enterprises. It gathers the entrepreneurs, researchers and academics working together in an old factory building in Lille.

Euratechnologies is a versatile ecosystem: Besides being a start-up incubator, it is a base for multinational companies like IBM and Facebook. It offers jobs for more than 3500 people and is the first European Innovation Campus.

Mr Anh-Tai Hoang presented Euratechnologies and the forms of support for the startups.

“An incubator can give material assets, like an office with a good location. It offers support and advices, but also a common culture. When one company is succeeding, the others are proud”, said Mrs Oanh Tran Thien, who is the founder of Weasyn web application and works in the Euratechnologies. The app is planned to help in everyday life -food management and will be launched in the beginning of 2018. 

A cluster of creativity

Good entrepreneurial culture was visible also in Plaine Images that is a host for creative industries entrepreneurs. The site is an old industrial area, with 18 hectors of closed factory buildings. Nowadays Plaine Images is an incubator, a fine arts school and a research center. The site is divided in the area of two cities, Tourcoing and Roubaix and presents an example of the transformation from industrialization to digitalization.

At the Plaine Images iEER delegation got presentation for example from Mr Jérôme Fait from 1P2P, who is developing a video game with his team. According to Mr Fait, the contribution of the incubator is very important. “They offer funding, advices and office space, but also the environment with people who share the same mood.”

Workshopping at the Plaine Images: How to boost entrepreneurial thinking on different levels of education?

On the same day at Plaine Images there was an event called “Discours sur la politique de la ville”, where the French president Emmanuel Macron gave a speech related to regional development and employment. iEER participants got a chance to be part of the presidential atmosphere and see how an incubator can be in the hotspot of the regional politics.

Entrepreneurial strategy of the young region

Hauts-de-France region was merged from Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardie regions on 2016 and therefore it’s the youngest region in France. During the past decades, it has faced closures of major industries and has a high unemployment rate. Despite these facts it has a powerful economy based on rail and automotive industries, food and health, ICT and green business.

The region also has a strong strategic entrepreneurial thinking. According to Mr Bertnand Sauvage, the Economic Partnership Director of Hauts-de-France regional council, entrepreneurship is strongly linked in the strategic targets of the region, among the nine universities.

For instance, PEPITE is a French state initiative, that supports the implementation of the entrepreneurship for students. The program gives an entrepreneurship student national status, entrepreneurship trainings and a diploma in higher education. It is accessible for all the students in universities and colleges.

Dating service for start-ups

Practical examples of the strong entrepreneurial thinking were presented during the peer visit. Hauts-de-France region uses webtools in managing the information flow around the entrepreneurial ecosystem. One of them was at the Nord France Innovation Developpement, where the web access platform Astride gathers the information about the entrepreneurs, funding, mentors, and actions among the community.

“The tool consolidates the the ecosystem activity and gives better visibility of the support proposed”, says Marc-Henri Castelain from the Northern France regional development and innovation agency (NFID).

The other service available for start-ups is called StarPartners, that is an automatic matching platform based on skills, projects, technologies and location.

“StarPartner helps entrepreneurs to find skills to complete their team and makes their project more innovative. It is a kind of dating website for entrepreneurs, researchers, companies and the entire supporting structures around the entrepreneurs”, describes Caroline Weste, the enterprise Europe network advisor from the NFID.

iEER group visited the Headquarters of Hauts-de-France regional council.