French Technical Finance Partners: an intermediary or a “useless” approach?

Launched in early December 2022, the French Technical Finance Partners held its first meeting in early January 2023. This institution should help guide the financing of French startups along several lines of strength already defined: decentralization of investments, deep technology support or the international appeal of French Technology. However, this first meeting could not overcome the doubts of some participants of the initiative. “uselessness” Mid-December 2022.

The “start-up nation” Dear President Macron (even if he no longer uses this language element in his official communication), does he properly support the French tech ecosystem, or parasitize it (too much) by favoring manufacturing giants or financing giants? ?

Bruno Le Maire and Jean-Noël Barrot launch French Tech Finance Partners

The question is almost philosophical and is at the heart of the debate that animated the creation of the French Technical Finance Partners on December 8, 2022 by Bruno Le Maire, Minister of Economy, Finance and Sovereignty. and digital and its Minister for the Digital Transition and Telecommunications, Jean-Noël Barrot, in celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Partex foundation.

This new initiative aims to bring together leading technology investors, as well as organizations and associations operating in the sector, to make proposals to the government in order to ensure more effective financing of French Tech. Identifying barriers to investment and promoting the growth of startups will be central to its mission.

Bringing investors together to optimize the funding of French startups

The idea sounds good on paper. After the first meeting of the institution, on January 3, 2023, the government presented the organizational chart of the French Technical Finance Partners and its three main missions: to identify obstacles to business financing in France, to contribute to the development of public policy and to strengthen it. Attractiveness of France for international investors.

From an operational point of view, French Technical Finance Partners, above all leading funds (Orange Ventures, Euronext, Partech, Revaia, EQT Ventures, Lazard, Eurazeo, Elaia, Founders Future, Supernova Invest, Jeito, Sequoia), but also banks (Societe Generale, BpiFrance) and France Invest and France Digitale associations.

The collective is chaired by Reza Melakzade from Partex. To get started, the French Technical Finance Partners have identified three priority projects:

  • financing of startups in the regions;
  • deep technology funding;
  • French Tech program selection criteria.

Centralize investment, promote deep technology and review criteria for French Technical programs

Centralization of investments seems necessary: “There are cities like Bordeaux, Marseille, Lille or even Lyon that have managed to build an ecosystem of active investors, but still lag behind in maturity compared to Paris. We need to get them off the ring road of all the big cities.”Maya Noël, General Manager of France Digitale, testifies for the digital factory.

Deeptech is another legal warhorse because, despite the executive’s ambitions on the subject, capital requirements are significant and often hinder the emergence of young shoots in the field.

The body will also be tasked with reworking the criteria of Next40 and French Tech 120. The idea is to give less preference to companies that raise large amounts of funds (the “unicorn madness”), but highlight those who develop their turnover and the jobs created.

Some members of the French Technical Finance Partners criticize this creation in a vitriolic forum

However, French Tech Finance Partners is far from unanimous, even among its members. In mid-December 2022, several contributors, speaking on condition of anonymity, published a vitriolic column about it. Gallery. They condemn this desire of the government “manages the tech lobbies himself”in “a futile initiative that risks weakening intermediary institutions”.

Their fear: giving too much power to the French Technical Finance Partners and especially to the biggest players in the institution, who can direct the policy of public financial support in favor of the ecosystem and not according to the needs of the company directly. own strategies.

Will a Trojan horse from the giants of the sector win the support of the people?

All to the detriment of the smallest investment funds (and even more so, all the small and medium-sized fish in the French Tech pond). Maya Noel, who also defends the initiative, admits that these fears are partially justified.

“I’m not afraid of the weakening of intermediary institutions, but they should continue to be recognized for raw materials and all work in parallel with this institution.”he says.

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