234 start-ups and 250 million euros in value

The Digital Day organized in Metz brought together 70 start-ups. The Mayor of Metz François Grosdidier came to greet the innovation capacity of these young offspring. Photo week

In third place Messin Bliiida, the fourth edition of the Digital Day, organized by the network of incubators Grand Est Quest for Change, brought together 70 start-ups. The opportunity to take stock of the economic health of the young shoots of the area, which in 2021 managed to raise over 100 million euros.

One contains a plastic recycling solution, the other designs medical decision support software for skin lesions. As for this entrepreneur, it is from private sales in the world of video games that he derives his business. A total of 70 prodigies of digital innovation were in Bliiida on Thursday 9 June for the fourth edition of the Digital Day organized by the Grand Est incubator network called Quest for Change (which brings together The Pool in Metz, Quai Alpha in Épinal, Semia in Strasbourg and Mulhouse, Innovact in Reims, Rimbaud’Tech in Charleville-Mézières). The opportunity for young entrepreneurs to discuss their daily problems, to forge partnerships with each other, but also to participate in the two conferences planned around cryptocurrency and fundraising.

Altogether there are 234 start-ups that make up the network and generate a total turnover of 12 million euros. Weak for such a number of companies? Whatever. Because what matters in the first years of a start-up’s life is rather its evaluation, its ability to raise funds and enter the commercialization phase, then industrialization. There the figures are eloquent: in 2021 the start-ups of the Quest for Change network raised 102 million euros, are worth more than 250 million euros and involve 400 project leaders and 700 employees.

“We are at the level of an ETI (medium-sized company, ed) distributed in the Grand East”, sums up Stéphane Chauffriat, director of Quest for Change. Especially since the most interesting is yet to come: according to the director, the support offered by the network, combined with that of the incubators, should allow innovative companies to multiply their business by three, four or even five in three years. … Exponential growth that would make it possible to exceed the threshold of 3,000 people engaged in start-ups in the Grand Est region. “Being united means relying on a common legal structure, organizing days like this Digital Day and pushing Parisian investment funds to cross the ring road to come to us. Being able to see 234 start-ups at the same time is an advantage, ”explains the director. “This network organization also allows us to take the best of each incubator and duplicate it in all territories. The research potential is objectively stronger in Alsace, but this benefits the whole of the Grand East ”, admits the mayor of Metz, François Grosdidier.

What start-ups in the Grand East?

If we look at the 102 million euros raised in 2021 by the network’s start-ups, 43% of the budget was used to finance projects focused on biotech, 13% on medtech and 11% on e-health. Healthcare start-ups also account for two-thirds of the value of the entire Quest for Change ecosystem. “We speak of Boston as the world capital of healthcare innovation, but the Grand East is also extremely advanced on these issues”, congratulates François Grosdidier. Quest for Change is also the first healthcare incubator in France.

Digital start-ups also did well, as they managed to collect 9% of the sum, while industrial ones 7%. The network of incubators estimates that over the next five years they will need € 407 million in investments to finance their future production lines, plants and production processes. “This underlines the strategic nature for the development of new local industrial jobs, provided they are accompanied in the phase of industrialization which remains risky”, comments Stéphane Chauffriat.

In total, for all start-ups, 55% of the financing was dilutive (which implies a loss of independence and shareholding by opening the capital to business angels, seed funds, venture capital, family offices, etc.). The rest, non-dilutive (without any loss of allowances for the unitholders and which includes loans of honor, bank loans, grants, etc.), is provided in particular by Grand Est and Bpifrance.

Thanks to support and access to finance, Quest for Change start-ups achieve a sustainability rate of 89% three years after their creation and 84% within five years. The world of start-ups is far from fragile as one might sometimes think.

How to be successful in fundraising?

In the waiting room, the pressure inevitably rises. Behind the door, the slew of investors who will decide the future of the start-up by choosing to free up funds or not, sharpen their questions. Sharp. How is the competition positioned? Which market? What means of access to the market? What is your reaction to this problem? And the export? During this day of Digital Day, Quest for Change had organized a conference dedicated to fundraising mechanisms to understand their subtlety. “You have to prepare as you would for a job interview. Repeat it over and over, ”recommends Stéphane Chauffriat, director of the Quest for Change incubator network. “Just like a high-level athlete,” adds Marc Berthold, founder of gamingprivé.com. “We are not looking for the perfect project. Either way, there will always be a start-up that will do better. The worst enemy of the project leader is certainty. We must accept the criticism and propose solutions to the problems raised by investors even if they cannot be solved immediately ”, emphasizes Nicolas Ivaldi, of the EY consulting firm. “A business angel takes risks with his money, but he also likes to participate in the creation of the company. He therefore needs to be integrated, ”adds Catherine Arbez, director of the Innovact incubator.

If the designs may not reach perfection, it is instead necessary for the bearers to seduce. Before pressing the button, potential lenders will above all want to ensure the coherence of the team leading the project, the complementarity of the profiles and the charisma. A brief presentation of each person’s background may be appreciated. “You have to tell a story at all costs. A business angel primarily relies on his intuition. In 30 seconds he can know if he will invest or not ”, remembers Catherine Arbez. “Investors bet on a team before they bet on a project”, Nicolas Ivadi abounds. Knowing the background of the investors you meet is also a way to promote trading.

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