Promoting Italian and French business relationships through the Franco-Italian Accelerator program

In December 2021, Bpifrance, its Team France Export partners as well as the Cassa Depositi e Prestiti and Elite launched the first Franco-Italian Accelerator for SMEs and ETIs aiming to develop cross-border synergies, particularly through innovative solutions.

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Through more than 140 programs Bpifrance has been helping companies to grow in France and abroad by combining consulting services for executives, training for CEOs and networking sessions between companies.Since 2015, 3,500 French SMEs & Medium Size companies were able to capitalize on their growth levers thanks to these programs that can be launched regionally, nationally, and internationally, they can be specific to a sector or very broad.  These programs, or “class” if you will, usually bring together around 30 leaders, giving them the opportunity to experience a unique collective adventure, as was the case for the first participants of the Franco-Italian Accelerator.

The Franco-Italian Accelerator’s gensesis?

The last and most unique program to emerge was born in 2020: the French-Italian Accelerator. It is about supporting French companies to develop their business on the Italian market but also helping Italian companies to open or reinforce opportunities on the French market. Most unique in the sense that is the first program to be bi-national. It was initiated within the context of the Quirinal Treaty signed between both governments to stimulate transalpine relations and cooperation and to strengthen the links between the two countries’ business exchanges.

This Accelerator was also made possible thanks to Bpifrance’s four trusted partners that all played a significant role in offering the most qualified assistance to the business leaders that embarked within the first promotion.

A collegial effort to develop and sustain business relations

The Cassa Depositi e Prestiti is the Italian National Promotional Institution which fosters the sustainable development in Italy, using the country’s savings responsibly to support growth and boost employment, innovation, business competitiveness, infrastructure, and local development. Elite launched in 2012 by Borsa Italiana and now part of Euronext Group, is the European network of private SMEs which accelerates the process to access private and public capital markets.

The French bank for entrepreneurs finances French companies – at every stage of their development – with credit, guarantees and equity capital, and finances innovation at French, European and International level. Alongside Business France, the French Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Bpifrance is also a member of the Team France Export that was created to help French businesses to succeed abroad. Together, they bring all the expertise of its founders, public and private key players, helping businesses to expand their activity internationally into the export market.

Driving international expansion through this successful  Accelerator Program

Launched at the end of 2020, French and Italian companies took part in this 12-month program where they were able to follow along seminars held in 2 prestigious schools such as Bocconi University and Science Po Paris, both offering key knowledge on the market and a great space for high quality networking sessions and to create long-lasting relationships.This first edition was met with great success. Indeed, after a study of impact on some of the participants, we can affirm that the accelerator has allowed an increase of 69 % of their turnover in Italy and 2 companies were able to implement on Italian soil.

As its name indicates, the Franco-Italian Accelerator program is a real booster of activities by speeding and strengthening export strategies and growth cross-borders. CODRA, a 30-something French company specializing in industrial, scientific, and technical computing systems was part of that first promotion. As a market leader in France the will to expand businesses abroad came naturally. During a talk at Big, Bpifrance’s annual impactful rendez-vous, CODRA’s Marketing Director Loic Drugeault mentioned the difficulties encountered when it came to entering the English market without real support and guidance. However, “Bpifrance opens doors” so when the Franco-Italian Accelerator launched, it was the perfect opportunity to invest the Italian market with the help of Bpifrance and its partners, “thanks to a regular follow-up and great availability, we were able to gain between 12 and 18 months of work being a part of this program”.

Why bet on Italy?

Italy represents a major growth driver for French companies. France is Italy’s 2nd largest customer and supplier, and its 1st investor. According to the French Ministry of Economic Affairs, French exporting activities to Italy are up sharply, increasing by 20.8% to €38.9 billion. Moreover, the two countries are geographically close, culturally “close enough” and have many assets in the same industrial sectors. This Accelerator program helps in strengthening ties with Italy and seizing new development opportunities so much that it was awarded by the French Embassy in Italy and the CCI France Italy last year.

Based on these highly satisfying results Bpifrance and Cassa Depositi e Prestiti wanted to renew the experience. The second edition will be launched in September 2023.