On 11 January, Leonard presented the 45 startups selected to join the four acceleration and support programmes in 2023. At the end of the day, Clara Audry, vice-president of France Digitale and partner at Jolt Capital, an investment fund specialising in responsible technology companies, was invited to debate with Pierre Coppey, deputy CEO of VINCI and chairman of VINCI Autoroutes. They gave the winners their observations on trends in the innovation market and changes in the way new projects are financed. It was agreed that investments in start-ups focused on environmental and climate issues are making good use of the financing crisis.
From digitalisation to decarbonisation
After a cycle of very strong growth for digital companies, marked by the emergence of numerous unicorns, “digital has entered a landing phase. Today, the focus is on deliverables rather than on the development of start-ups,” comments Pierre Coppey.
In a post health crisis period, the issues of sovereignty, resilience, sobriety and relocation are now at the forefront. “After massive digitalisation, we are witnessing massive decarbonisation,” points out Clara Aubry. However, in this context, the digital part remains strong, as does the software designed to calculate the carbon footprint of economic activities. “At Jolt, we invest in both software and hardware solutions. The current transition cannot be achieved without both,” explains Clara Audry.
The shift towards climate tech
Another notable change is that impact and performance are no longer mutually exclusive, as the best performing companies are those that seek to respond to the climate emergency. What will change, however, is the amount of capital allocated to the environmental transition. “There is a whole generation of entrepreneurs who want to tackle this issue and institutional investors who are pushing in this direction. It’s so important that these assets will automatically be valued,” notes Clara Audry. Everything indicates that tomorrow, nuclear fusion, solar energy and new materials will be high growth sectors.
Climate Tech start-ups are increasingly attracting the attention of investors. “In 2019, it was 8% of the total funds invested in venture capital worldwide. Today, it is 15%,” says Clara Aubry. Solutions for the decarbonisation of the economy and for the more global reduction of the environmental footprint are undoubtedly gaining momentum. This is enough to encourage entrepreneurs to take up the challenge!
The key role of the State
All these investments are supported by governments that are willing to support innovative industrial solutions. “In recent times, the State has created fiscal conditions that are more favourable to business than they have ever been in France. And basically, this is probably the most structuring thing that can be done in favour of industry,” comments Pierre Coppey.
In fact, the State’s action has made it possible to inject billions of euros into the start-up of new companies. Through the BPI, it has financed around 40% of the funds intended for early stage companies. “The State is now the leading French venture capitalist. With high-level engineering schools training the talents of tomorrow, we now have a magnificent terrain for entrepreneurship in France,” concludes Clara Audry.