France Digitale looks back on the challenges that remain to be overcome for French Tech

France Digitale looks back on the challenges that remain to be overcome for French Tech



Shortly after the tenth edition of France Digitale Day on September 28, Alliancy spoke with Marianne Tordeux BitkerDirector of Public Affairs of the association representing start-upss at the European level. The opportunity to recall the context in which French Tech is evolving and the challenges it will have to overcome to continue its growth.

Marianne Tordeux Bitker, Director of Public Affairs at France Digitale.

Alliance. What did you learn from the discussions during the tenth edition of France Digitale Day?

Marianne Tordeux. The France Digitale Day was an opportunity to celebrate our tenth anniversary and to plan collectively for the challenges of the next decade. I am very happy to see that our members are all aligned with our ambitions: to promote useful innovation for people and the planet.

Our latest barometer conducted in partnership with EY seems to confirm this trend: 37% of start-ups declare having carried out a carbon assessment in 2021 and 33% are labeled “company with a mission”. Social, societal and environmental responsibility has become a priority.

Our ecosystem is recognized throughout Europe and everyone is interested in this brand which attracts talent. For example, we recently went to Hungary to explain how we managed to build this strong innovation ecosystem. More broadly, it is the entire European ecosystem that defends these values ​​and this is becoming a differentiating factor vis-à-vis the United States or Asia. This is a strong argument for attracting talent and investors.

Read also: Faced with the uncertain financial context, French Tech remains optimistic

Can this weigh in the context of the scarcity of funds in tech?

Companies that choose to put the environment and social issues at the heart of their strategy are those that will benefit from major fundraising to come. The latest ones that have been registered, such as that of Ecovadis, are good examples. It is neither more nor less than a reflection of the current economy and startups must be agile in order to adapt.

In the same way, since the financing of start-ups essentially involves fundraising, we must also ensure that this Venture Capital benefits the regions. You should also know that the France Digitale Day is one of the stages of our France Digitale Tour. The objective is to travel across France to meet the nuggets of our territories and facilitate their access to this unfortunately very Parisian financial ecosystem.

This subject is linked to the issue of the digital divide in France. We also devoted an article to it in our magazine “DIX_”, a report on the digital advisers created during the last five years to help people who suffer from illiteracy.

This is a very important point for France Digitale because when we talk about innovation for the planet and for people, we cannot imagine it with a digital divide. It is essential that our start-ups design solutions that benefit as many people as possible.

It is with this in mind that we are working with Emmaüs Connect on the “Balance pas ton PC” program, which refurbishes the digital equipment provided by our start-ups to distribute them to French men and women who do not have the financial capacity to buy smartphones or computers.

How does French Tech take on new challenges such as the energy transition?

The 4th Future Investments Program (PIA 4) within the framework of France Relance has rather well identified the sectors of the future, whether health or ecological transition in the broad sense. During France Digitale Day, we had the honor of welcoming the Minister of Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion, Christophe Béchu, and we introduced him to several start-ups that use innovation to meet concrete needs, such as agriculture or space.

We need this innovation to achieve the objectives set for energy sobriety. Startups are very ambitious in measuring the direct and indirect carbon footprint of their activity. The government was also quite surprised to note that start-ups only agreed to be associated with the energy plan of Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, provided that it was sufficiently ambitious and without waffle!

Within our community of 2,000 startups and venture capital funds, the voices of those who do not understand the need to engage in the ecological and social transition of the sector are in the minority. We have nearly 800 “impact by design” start-ups, that is to say which have an activity directly committed to promoting ESG. The rest of our community is engaged in other ways: in particular by making commitments on the social side, to adopt more inclusive human resources strategies.

Should we expect more from the legislator a stricter framework around these issues?

We remain vigilant on the evolution of the regulations because they can completely change the strategies of establishment of the companies, on our territory or abroad. Let me explain: in the United States, for example, innovating in health was for a very long time a real headache for French startups because the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) imposed immense specifications. Today, it’s the opposite: they have set up regulatory sandboxes to encourage startups to launch projects, without any real regulatory barriers.

Result: I no longer count the French start-ups that are opening offices in the United States rather than on European territory – when we would love for their innovations to benefit, above all, French users. It is absolutely essential to measure all the potential side effects that a regulation would have on innovation. The European Commission’s Digital Markets and Services Acts have been very well thought out in this respect, compared to the GDPR, which started from a good idea, but whose implementation was too complex for small businesses.

During the France Digitale Day, the Minister in charge of digital Jean-Noël Barrot explained how these texts will be transposed. But he then expressed that he wanted to go beyond the regulations: why would France impose even more restrictive rules on its territory? We need Europe to have a single regulation – not 27 different regulations

A final positive point on the regulations: they can lead to very positive changes, like the Sustainable Finance Disclosure (SFDR), also known as the “European taxonomy”. Since 1er January 2022, this framework forces institutional funds to comply with various ESG criteria. Concretely, this means that impact becomes a prerequisite for Venture Capital funds and this will naturally direct more investment in impact start-ups. There are still adjustments to be made to the concrete implementation of the SFDR (today very complex!) but we will get there!


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