France’s Most Promising Startups

Article By : Anne-Françoise Pelé

France, under La French Tech 120 program, has unveiled the identity of the 123 high-potential startups that will benefit from a dedicated accelerator scheme.

France, under La French Tech 120 program, unveiled the 123 high-potential startups that will benefit from a dedicated accelerator scheme. These tech startups tackle everything from artificial intelligence to neurotechnology to robotics to LEDs, etc.

After a €5 billion investment plan to support French-based tech startups in 2018 over the next three years, French President Emmanuel Macron raised the bar to €6 billion earlier this month. The aims are to “bolster the rise and development of global tech champions” and to create 25 unicorns — privately owned startups valued at more than US$1 billion, or businesses having raised more than €100 million in a single round — by 2025. 

Along with these announcements, La French Tech unveiled Monday (Jan. 20) La French Tech 120, a government-backed support program “for 120 startups that have the potential to become global technology leaders”. These companies are among the “most promising in the country and are representative of the diversity of La French Tech ecosystem,” La French Tech explains. 

La French Tech is an initiative launched by the French government in 2013 to bring together all those who contribute to the growth and reach of startups, including investors, engineers, developers, students, associations, policy markets, and community builders. Its main mission is to promote French startups abroad and attract foreign entrepreneurs or talents in France. 

High-potential startups

Startups joining La French Tech program will receive priority support from ministries and public services so as to accelerate their growth. They will notably receive support from a dedicated “Startup Engagement Manager” and benefit from an enhanced visibility, through influence, communication and presence operations in official delegations abroad. 

Contrary to what its name suggests, La French Tech 120 lists 123 startups, not 120. For this roundup, startups were selected on the basis of economic criteria: Their fundraising for half of them, and the amount of turnover and growth for the other half. Companies selected in the Next40 are automatically part of the French Tech 120 program. 

“The French Tech 120 companies demonstrate the importance of La French Tech: Employment on the whole territory whatever the level of qualification,” tweeted Cédric O, French minister for the digital sector, on the announcement of the French Tech 120. ”This year, French startups will create 25.000 jobs.”

Out of the 123 startups, here are 5, presented in alphabetical order, that may be worth the attention. 

Aledia (Grenoble)

Image: Aledia

Spun out of the CEA-Leti labs in 2011, Aledia develops and manufactures light-emitting diodes (LEDs) based on a 3D architecture using gallium-nitride (GaN)-on-silicon nanowires. LEDs are manufactured on 8-inch (200mm) standard silicon substrates and scalable to 12-inch (300mm) silicon substrates. Aledia claims its 3D LED technology enables high brightness (x1000 of today’s average screen), high-resolution, low-power and cost-effective displays, all of which are key parameters in a variety of existing and future mobile display applications including laptops, tablets, mobile phones, augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR) and smart watches. 

Last December, Aledia and TowerJazz announced a process development partnership to bring Aledia’s nanowire-LED technology into commercialized volume production. 

The Grenoble-based startup raised over €38.4 million in two financing rounds in 2012 and 2015 and €30 million in a Round C financing round in 2018.

AnotherBrain (Paris)

AnotherBrain has developed a new approach to artificial intelligence. Called OrganicAI, the company claims, is a bio-inspired, low-energy and human-friendly technology very close to the functioning of the human brain. Organic AI is self-learning and does not require big data for training. AnotherBrain technologies are expected to open new avenues in industries such as automotive, industrial automation, healthcare, smart homes, smart cities and more.

After closing a €11 million seed round in 2017, AnotherBrain raised another €19 million in funding last October to accelerate development of its current software-based Organic AI solution into a frugal and efficient ASIC. 

The company was founded by Bruno Maisonnier in 2017. He was previously the founder and chairman of Aldebaran Robotics, the developer of humanoid robots Pepper and Nao. In 2015, Aldebaran Robotics was acquired by SoftBank Group.

Diabeloop (Grenoble)

Spun off from the Center for Studies and Research for the Intensification of Diabetes Treatment (CERITD) in 2012, Diabeloop’s mission is to automate the treatment of Type 1 diabetes. Its first product, the DBLG1 system, combines a continuous blood glucose sensor and a miniature patch-type insulin pump. The sensor and pump communicate via Bluetooth with a smartphone equipped with a personalized algorithm developed by French research institute CEA-Leti. 

Basically, a glucose reading is sent to the handset via Bluetooth every five minutes. The DBLG1 algorithm analyzes data and takes into account the patients’ physiology, physical activity, food intake, and other drug therapies to calculate the correct dose of insulin to administer. Once calculated, the dose is sent directly to the pump. 

Image: Diabeloop

The DBLG1 system operates in a closed loop, as the insulin is delivered automatically by the pump, with no need for the patient to intervene. This lowers the risk of potential dosage errors. 

In December 2019, Diabeloop raised €31 million in a Series B financing round to accelerate the commercialization of its artificial pancreas device in Europe and in the United States. 

Dreem (Paris)

Neurotechnology startup, Dreem was founded on the simple idea to make people healthier by addressing their sleep problems and improving the quality of rest during the night. The Dreem headband, the startup claims, monitors brain activity to track sleep accurately and uses auditory stimulation as a medium to help people fall asleep faster, get deeper sleep and wake up refreshed. 

The Dreem Band is equipped with several sensors, including 6 EEG electrodes to measure brain waves, a pulse sensor to monitor the heart rate and blood oxygen saturation, as well as an accelerometer to measure movement and breathing patterns. 

In 2018, Dreem raised $35 million from Johnson & Johnson Innovation and Bpifrance, bringing the total raised to $60 million in less than four years. 

Exotec Solutions (Croix)

Founded in 2015, Exotec Solutions gathers a team of mathematicians, engineers or technicians who develop and build fleets of robots to automate warehouse operations. The startup’s autonomous Skypod is a high-performance order preparation robot that can move up to 30-kilogram boxes anywhere within the storage thanks to its laser scanner navigation. It is also able to move up and down a rack and grab a box from the shelves. 

Source: Exotec

As soon as an order takes place on the Internet, the system sends Skypod at a speed of four meters per second to pick up the box and bring it back to a human operator. 

Exotec Solutions has raised €18 million in total funding since 2016.

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