Leonard, a partner in the BigBooster acceleration program

Establishing a presence in a foreign market is always a delicate operation for a startup. To assist young companies in taking this crucial step, the Big Booster Foundation has established an international accelerator program. The call for start-ups will remain open until June 30, while the call for mentors will remain open until September 20.

Since 2022, VINCI entities in Centre Est, with the support of Leonard, VINCI’s innovation platform, have been partnering with the BigBooster Foundation through a skills sponsorship in the program’s management team, providing top experts as mentors.

Launched in 2015 with support from the Metropole of Lyon and the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Region, this program, which is completely free of charge, is designed for impact start-ups operating in the key sectors of ecological, technological, and societal transition. These sectors include environment, energy, construction, mobility, health, industry, and digital solutions. The program is open to applications from both France and abroad. Through the support of public and private partners, as well as the participation of mentors from the world’s leading innovation ecosystems, start-ups can receive advice and assistance in planning and strategizing their international development.

In practice, each year in June, a call for projects is issued to select the most promising proposals and recruit the mentors who will be part of the program. Around fifty start-ups are then selected to participate in a three-day training session called “Booster Camp,” which takes the form of a bootcamp. At the conclusion of the session, approximately fifteen winners are chosen to receive long-term support.

A powerful tool for internationalization

In the previous season, 43 start-ups were selected out of 117 applicants to participate in the BoosterCamp, which took place from July 5 to 7 at the Campus Région du Numérique near Lyon. Over the course of three days, French start-ups aiming to establish themselves in Germany, Italy, Spain, the United States, and Canada, as well as foreign start-ups seeking to expand their activities in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region or more broadly in France, had the opportunity to enhance their international growth strategies by focusing on two priority markets. They were able to benefit from mentoring sessions provided by experts from the targeted territories, engage in meetings with representatives of local ecosystems, and establish connections with partners operating in these markets, while also receiving advice on their value propositions. “The bootcamp provided us with an opportunity to refine our pitch, making it more accessible and impactful,” explains Rémi Perony, founder of the start-up Caeli Énergie.

At the conclusion of the BoosterCamp, 16 start-ups were selected to receive personalized and comprehensive support over a six-month period, enabling them to optimize their development plans to the fullest extent possible. Among these 16 start-ups were Caeli Energie, Orok, and WMP, which were incubated or accelerated by Leonard through the Intrapreneurs and SEED programs. Twelve VINCI mentors and judges, including Julien Villalongue, Leonard’s director, were also present.

Since its inception, over the course of six seasons, BigBooster has assisted 350 start-ups from 30 different countries in expanding their international activities, thanks to the support of approximately 100 partners and 300 mentors and experts.

For the 7th season, the call for start-up applications will be open until June 30, while the call for mentors will remain open until September 20. The results for start-ups will be announced at the end of July, and at the end of September for mentors. The Booster Camp will be held in the autumn, from November 7 to 9, at the Digital Region Campus in Charbonnières-Les-Bains, near Lyon. The list of start-ups selected for customized support will be announced simultaneously. Applications can be submitted through the BigBooster website.

For more information and to apply, please visit the BigBooster website.

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