The Deeptech Plan Shows Successful Results in 2021
Launched in 2019, the Deeptech Plan seeks to develop breakthrough innovations in France. 2021 results show it is following a very good path.
250 deeptech startups have been created in 2021. Even though it doesn’t reach the annual objective of 500, it is still a 26% increase compared to 2020. Moreover, 40% of them were in the healthcare sector, revealing that a new community like La French Care was needed. Some 20 other per cent are in the industry sector, under the flag of La French Fab.
Launched in January 2019 and operated by Bpifrance, the Deeptech Plan has been made up to encourage the deeptech sector, in which France was lagging up, and thus foster the development of an international scale high-performance ecosystem in disruptive innovation. This dynamic is set to accelerate under the push of the France 2030 plan. Apart from the annual target of 500 deeptech startups created, key objectives also include building industrial leaders of 10 deeptech unicorns by 2025 – this to be declined by region and industry. An ambition that is well on the way, as France already counts 5 unicorns in the deeptech sector : Exotec, Ledger, Owkin, OVHCloud, and Shift Technology.
The Deeptech Plan results in 2021
With 26% more deeptech startups created in 2021 compared to 2020, the Deeptech Plan continues to show promising results. Deeptech startups have raised €2.3bn, (+91% compared to 2020), including €375 million invested directly by Bpifrance, which has also invested €401 million in Deeptech investment funds. Since 2019, Bpifrance is thus directly or indirectly involved in 70% of the fundraisings. In addition, more than €559 million of funding have been allocated to 553 startups, and nearly 90% of French Deeptech startups have received innovation support from Bpifrance.
This trend is largely due to the role played by academic ecosystems. “All the indicators for Deeptech are green, with an unprecedented mobilization of ecosystem players across the entire continuum to bring out, finance, and support the projects of entrepreneurs who are building today, tomorrow’s France. Deeptech is already having an impact on the industrial and economic sector,” says Paul-François Fournier, Executive Director of Innovation at Bpifrance. Such mobilization allows deeptech to represent 24,000 direct jobs in France.
Deeptech stimulates growth and drives local industrial innovation
Many deeptech startups are the result of research laboratories’ work. Some of them were created in the 1990s and became international leaders, such as Soitec, which produces semiconductors materials, or Withings, that designs connected health devices. Today, several startups are following hypergrowth dynamics driven by major fundraising and investment capital dynamics. Nearly one out of four startups in the Next40 (the 40 most promising French technology startups) comes from the deeptech sector. As an example, Exotec, specialized in industrial robotics, became in 2022 the 25th French unicorn and the very first industrial one. This rapid growth has enabled the deeptech sector to develop a real presence at a local scale. The 102 industrial sites and demonstrators – and the 62 others that should open in the following months – illustrate the important dynamism of the industrial activity in this sector. In 2021, the startup Lhyfe, for example, inaugurated its first renewable hydrogen production plant.
In line with the France 2030 plan, from 2022 to 2026, the “Industrial startups and SMEs Plan” will make €2.3 billion available to industrial deeptech companies. This plan, which includes loan and investment solutions dedicated to La French Fab companies, aims at supporting and accelerating the industrialization of deeptech projects to create 100 industrial sites per year by 2030. For deeptech startups in healthcare and greentech sectors, this plan will be combined with the benefits of the Climate Plan and with the French Care initiative.
Community animation, another aspect that encourages Les Deeptech
The community dedicated to the deeptech sector, Les Deeptech, has been joined by 200 companies, and now counts 504 members. With such an expanding community, Bpifrance has launched in September 2021 a website dedicated to Les Deeptech community, lesdeeptechs.fr. This platform promotes the creation of a startups’ community and encourages exchanges, networking and collaborations between researchers, academic actors, entrepreneurs, investors, project leaders. The platform already counts more than 16,000 users. In addition, awareness-raising events organized by or in partnership with Bpifrance – such as the i-PhD competition, the Deeptech Tour and Deeptech sees Big – are increasingly successful, with nearly 10,000 participants in 2021. The i-PhD competition have even registered 75% more application compared to the precedent year.