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French fund-raising shows start-up cash is pouring into Paris

Technology ecosystems from Paris to London have been competing to catch up with Silicon Valley

Image Credit: Bloomberg
Xavier Niel, billionaire and co-chief operating officer of Iliad SA, center, with students during the Station F startup campus launch party in Paris last month.
Gulf News

PARIS

Two of France’s bigger venture-capitalists, Partech Ventures and Idinvest Partners, are closing funds this month, adding to recent examples of investors pouring money into European start-up investments.

Partech Ventures said Monday it increased its latest venture fund to 400 million euros ($456 million) from the likes of Cisco Systems Inc., Nokia OYJ, Renault SA and others — more than it had initially anticipated when it closed the first round a year ago. Idinvest Partners, another Paris-based VC, expects to close a 250 million euro fund-raising in the coming weeks, including from state-backed Bpifrance, insurance companies, and financial investors, said Benoist Grossmann, managing partner.

“The European entrepreneur ecosystem today is just magic,” Grossmann said in an interview. “We’re seeing quality people, serial entrepreneurs, younger and younger, all over Europe.”

The closing, which comes about four months after Idinvest told Bloomberg it was seeking money, will provide resources to invest in themes including artificial intelligence, Grossmann said. Partech meanwhile has raised a total of about 1 billion euros in the past 18 months, giving it significant firepower to back start-ups in e-commerce, fintech, virtual reality and connected objects, across Europe.

Technology ecosystems from Paris to London have been competing to catch up to Silicon Valley. French billionaire entrepreneur Xavier Niel last month inaugurated a 34,000-square-metre (366,000-square-foot) start-up campus in the French capital he aims to make the world’s biggest. Facebook said it will have a “start-up garage” there, and newly elected president, Emmanuel Macron, went so far as to call to make his country “a start-up nation.”

Partech is also targeting Africa, seeking some 100 million euros to invest in start-ups in the region. Last year it hired Tidjane Deme, formerly in charge of Google’s development in French-speaking countries in Africa, to lead investments.

Partech and Idinvest have built a reputation by taking stakes in some of Europe’s better-known start-ups like Sigfox, a telecommunications network provider that connects objects from fire hydrants to defibrillators. Partech has also backed online furniture designer and seller Made.com, and hovering water-taxi builder Seabubbles. Idinvest has a stake in Spotify Ltd. rival Deezer SA and online ad-placement company Criteo SA, which went public in 2013.

They’re not alone benefiting from the outpouring of funds. Earlier this month Felix Capital Partners, a London-based firm that’s backed Gwyneth Paltrow’s fashion brand Goop and is seeking digital brands investments in Europe and the US, said it got more offers than it could accept for its latest fund-raising of $150 million.

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