There is so much more to France than just Paris.
Burgeoning cities like Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon and Nice count for a lot, both economically and politically.
Toulouse is a perfect example, a city set in the Haute-Garonne region of France, located on the south western fringes of the country. Known for its spatial distribution of economic activity, localised processes and infrastructure, setting the scene for what Michael Porter in The Competitive Advantage of Nations (1990) describes as a ‘cluster’ (which means, “a geographical concentration of interconnected firms and institutions in a particular field). Synonymous to the Silicon Valley and Hollywood, Porter’s concept provides an idyllic setting where technological development, innovation and competition, become key features of this great ‘pink city’.
Toulouse is at the centre of the European aerospace industry, with household names such as Airbus (a world leading aircraft manufacturer) the subsidiary of EADS (a global aerospace and defence company).
On the life sciences front Toulouse is also well known for being one of the greatest contributors to the cancer research programme in Europe.
In fact we chose Toulouse as the unlikely destination for a deserved end of year retreat not only because of its renowned mild temperatures in the winter and the taste of the Tariquet (locally produced excellent white wine known for its engaging taste) but because we had a real sense that this dynamic region was on the verge of a cosmic technological/innovative explosion. Our first stop, TIC Valley!
‘La TIC Valley’
TIC Valley (Technology of Information and Communication) is based in Labège (south east of Toulouse) it resembles a very smart college campus (without the cheerleaders), playing home to 15 innovative start-ups, totalling to around 300 hundred people.
TIC Valley lends support to Porter’s concept by providing an environment where the sharing of ideas, knowledge and resources between start-ups features high on the agenda.
Back in October of last year we were pleased to hear that TIC Valley had launched ‘Le Camping Toulouse’ a satellite of an established incubator originally based in Paris, set up by Silicon Sentier. (Le Camping is just about to kick start its 4th edition within Google’s new offices in Paris on the 28th February and they’ve been making a lot of noise since its debut so go check it out).
With Tel Aviv as its next destination we were intrigued to find out what it was about Toulouse that grabbed the attention of this prestigious incubator.
Ludovic Le Moan, CEO and co-creator of the TIC Valley and SIGFOX (one of TIC Valley’s resident start-ups) was involved in creating the concept for ‘Le Camping Toulouse’.
As CEO of SIGFOX, the first operator of cellular technology fully dedicated to machine-to-machine communication, he mentored start-ups for the first 2 editions of ‘Le Camping Paris’. Le Moan believed that something similar could be applied to Toulouse, in which he referred to the local resources and expertise that is ready available at TIC Valley and commented on how it formed a complete structure to enhance competitive growth for the tech/digital start-ups.
Those enrolled on the 6 month accelerator program, would have the chance to develop their concepts through the rules applied by the mentoring scheme, which we would aptly term as the ‘lean start up’ approach.
It seemed quite fitting to think that these entrepreneurs ‘had their minds in the sky’, (considering the region’s links to the Aerospatiale industry) but in reality we were miles away from our own expectations.
In fact, there is absolutely no harm in having your ‘mind in the sky, just as long as your feet are on the ground’, which were thoughts echoed by Fabrice Tron (CEO of Pink City Brain) who established the start-up arm of the TIC Valley.
A sentiment which now brings us nicely onto our 6 starts-ups.
Meet the Campers
These entrepreneurs are based in Toulouse and aged between 25 to 40 years. Their pre – incubator experiences range from psychomotor therapy to corporate marketing.
LAB58 is clearly inviting you all to get involved and to follow their concepts. We met them back in December of last year during the first stages of their mentoring program. Therefore in no particular order here are a few words describing the initiatives of the 6 start-ups who are expected to graduate from the program by the end of next month.
1) Meet my designer
This is a smart crowd funding platform for fashion entrepreneurs within the market. Their aim is to help budding fashion entrepreneurs obtain funding to finance projects ranging from catwalk shows to trade exhibitions. Something to look out for if you are embarking on starting up in the fashion world.
The Robin Hood of data privacy, which enables users to protect their information on social networking sites for free. A topic high on Facebook’s agenda after it announced its search graph on the 15th of January (the newest way to monetize its user’s personal data).
An online and mobile platform specifically designed to help you customise your trip with just one simple ‘click’.
Is a new approach to the social event calendar. Calendeev is both a mobile application and a website designed to suggest the best events which appeal to your tastes and friends’ tastes thanks to a powerful recommendation engine.
Provides a store filled with applications that combine the functionalities of home automation devices and web services.
Is an innovative point-of-sale device that uniquely identifies and interacts with any mobile phone, regardless of its technology, whether NFC-enabled, a smart-phone or not. With no apps to download, or QR code to flash, Mobirider enables the user to just use their mobile the way it is.
Overall we believe that Toulouse has a great value chain ecosystem which will strengthen over time. As it makes its appearance on the Tech list map, we expect more things to come out of Toulouse over the coming years. Potentially competing against Paris as having the best start-up ecosystem in France.
Please stay tuned for the second article on, ‘Toulouse is so Tech’!