What better occasion than the start of a new year to find out a little more about Pierre Berthou, our association’s Chairman of the Board? What are his responsibilities, views and ambitions for the coming year? Read on to find out more!
First of all, how would you describe your role as the association’s Chairman of the Board?
Firstly, I work on our strategy and roadmap in collaboration with Stanislas (CEO) and the Board of Directors. My role then consists of making sure we have the necessary means to carry out the goals we’ve defined together. I have a responsibility to represent—or even embody— the project, without eclipsing its collective ethos, which is extremely important to me. Finally, I act as a facilitator between teams, the Board and the ecosystem.
What would you say were the ecosystem’s major achievements in 2016?
For one, the amazing energy demonstrated by both the region itself and company directors in particular! We identified that 40 million euros had been raised in 2016! Job creation numbers aren’t in yet, but I sense they’ll be good… We have both enduring companies experiencing excellent growth, such as Médiaveille, Kerlink, Digitaleo, and Klaxoon, as well as other emerging businesses displaying huge potential. I could cite start-ups like Blacknut, La Boutonnière, Yogoko, Energiency, Advalo, Mediego, Eliga, Maplatine.com, Tykaz… the list goes on. La French Tech contributed to this dynamic activity by working to create the most favorable conditions for the development and acceleration of start-ups.
Beyond these general aspects, 2016 was a really productive year for us, with our arrival in January at Le Mabilay, the totem building that has quickly become the symbol of our region’s economic dynamism. The “Start-up on the beach” event, co-produced with Digital St-Malo, allowed certain start-ups in the region to meet and pitch to local, national and even international investors. The two Booster seasons [our acceleration program] bore 12 companies, which have been established or are in the process of being established. Finally, the second edition of the Digital Tech Conference welcomed more than 600 people at the Opera house.
Is the ecosystem more legible and easier to understand today?
The legibility and clarity of our missions are essential to our performance and to the success of our initiatives. They also guarantee that the public money currently financing most of our initiatives is used correctly.
Paradoxically, the arrival of La French Tech, with its mission to coordinate players, has not made the local ecosystem any easier to understand. In fact, it added a certain amount of confusion, particularly in relation to Rennes Atlantique. Or at least that’s what the twenty or so company CEOs indicated when we asked them last August. Naturally, we have been working with them on this ever since, which will, I hope, will lead to some major changes in 2017.
At the same time, La French Tech Rennes St Malo has enhanced the region’s visibility to outsiders. All year long, I’ve had friends in Paris or elsewhere saying to me: “Things are really happening in Rennes and St Malo!”
What points would you like to improve this year?
- We need to strengthen our communication efforts in France and abroad to raise awareness about our region, its companies and its expertise. Improving legibility also means attracting (and retaining) the talent companies need here. This is essential!
- As an extension of what we started in 2016, we must continue working on synergy with other structures in the region to offer start-ups even more. On financing with BPI, on international with BCI, on R&D with the Images et Networks department, on company development with Rennes Atalante and finally with the Ille-et-Vilaine CCI , for its links with all the region’s companies.
Are you confident for 2017?
2017 is a particularly uncertain year, as we face elections in France, a break down of unifying projects in Europe, and a rather worrying new presidency in the States.
Our societies are also transforming very quickly and many feel excluded from this new world, which is expanding in often quite chaotic ways. Even though this can be worrying at times, it opens up a wealth of opportunities to reinvent tomorrow’s world! It seems to me that our ecosystem is better equipped than others to face these challenges; it knows how to rally around values derived from a strong history and culture. Our region is young, enthusiastic, entrepreneurial, and united. So yes, I’m optimistic for 2017!
What are your new year’s wishes for the region’s start-ups and entrepreneurs?
That they live out their dreams to the full and always try to move forward through contact with others!