Towards The Entrepreneurial Riviera Of France: Nice

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Nice is a leading figure of the innovative startup scene. Located between the sea and the mountains, the remarkable ecosystem of Nice and its surroundings build an environment new innovations and welcomes startups looking for interaction, innovation and visibility!

The glitz and glamour of France’s Mediterranean coastline known as the French Riviera is rivaled only by few other places on the globe. Considered as the European Silicon Valley, the French Riviera has built its growth and industrial reputation over the past 40 years on a strong support of companies belonging to the Information & Communication Technologies (ICT) sector. The only territory in Europe with Munich that owns a similar critical mass of technology companies with high “added value” to the country.
Nice and its local culture and infrastructures are ready to welcome your startup, so follow this guide to be aware of all the amazing opportunities it could offer you 😉

Direction: Nice

There are some good reasons why Nice and its surroundings are considered as the European Silicon Valley. The French Riviera benefits of the coherence of a strong digital ecosystem coupled to a strategic location.

Advantages Of Starting Up In Nice & Surroundings:

  • Nice Côte d’Azur, first metropole of France and international pole, pioneer and several times awards winner on the smart city theme, as an example of sustainable and interconnected city.
  • Sophia Antipolis, first technopole in Europe with a worldwide reputation for its excellence in Information and Communication Technologies.
  • Cannes, city of cultural uniqueness, but also advanced in satellite technologies and with an offensive strategy in the technologies of digital image.
  • Grasse, perfume capital of the world, which explores the modeling and biological and chemical simulations.
  • Supportive startup culture, loved by the region and French Tech.
  • Lot of financial help from the government, the region and private investors.
  • Competitive talents from top management, technical and design universities.
  • One of the major tourist destinations in Europe.
  • Convenient flight and national train connections.
  • Sun, beach and sea all summer long and in winter mountains and skiing. French food quite often 😉

What Startup Founders Have To Consider:

  • Lots of taxes and paperwork, France is known for that in general, but it’s getting better and better for startups.
  • Living in Nice can be very expensive, but you can always find affordable accommodations in the surroundings.
  • Difficulties to move around the city without a car.
  • High Speer Internet not available everywhere around the city.
  • High costs of employment

When thinking about starting your own business, Nice is a really interesting location. Even if it’s not as well connected as Paris, it has its international airport and many big innovative companies have been here for quite some time, for instance IBM, Thalès, Schneider Electrics and others. They all have established a good atmosphere for entrepreneurs. Living in the technopole of Nice means living in a constantly motivating environment that encourages entrepreneurship, and this is true at any age. From students in the international University of Nice (Unice) to most advanced professionals, they all can free their ideas in a wide variety of entrepreneurial styles.

First Things First – Meet Nice’s Local Startup Community

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One of the biggest strengths of Nice is the big community around IT, innovations and startup creation. Moreover, some of the biggest companies in the world are represented in the region, and it’s always good to have examples to follow. You’ll be sure to find mentors, freelances or associates and increase your knowledge participating to local events. Meet the brightest entrepreneur mindset participating in the following startup and IT events:

Find Info About Upcoming Events, Meetups And Other Occasions:

Regular Events & Meetups:

  • French Riviera Rockets is a local Facebook group of entrepreneurs, they share content, get feedback and meet the members during special events. Under the label of Startupz, FRR organizes public conferences in order to bring knowledge about how to launch a startup.
  • Be aware of the events and hackathons of the biggest local IT association – Telecom Valley. Focused on committees and projects on these main subjects: m-tourism, open source, entrepreneurship, innovation, agility and a lot more, see by yourself.
  • As a “company nursery”, the CEEI hosts regular events related to tech, innovation and business.
  • The Club business 06 was born in order to create a network of entrepreneurs of the local economic. It encourages exchanges between passionate peoples, check their agenda here.
  • If you need advice and mentoring from other successful entrepreneurs, UPE 06 was created for that.
  • Monaco Cote d’Azur Business Hub is also dedicated to help you succeed as an entrepreneur in Monaco and Nice.
  • EIT Digital often organizes educational conferences at Polytech School.
  • Open Coffee Club allows you to meet new entrepreneurs and perfect your network around you. There is also similar thing for at Nice: Facebook page.

Yearly Or Major Events, Festivals, Conferences:

  • Worldwide events powered by Google for Entrepreneurs and Startup Weekends are organized once a year in Nice, Sophia Antipolis and Monaco: check the nearest one and launch now.
  • The yearly European Innovation Academy in Nice is the biggest accelerator worldwide, focused on IT innovation. During three weeks you’ll launch your startup, mentored by the world’s brightest minds. A summer academy you must do once in your life.
  • Get in the ring is a major worldwide pitch contest with yearly local competition in Nice and Monaco.
  • As a student in exchange, you can participate to the annual Challenge Jeunes Pousses contest, organized by the leader IT association: Telecom Valley.
  • BA 06 is the major annual event of French Riviera’s entrepreneurs. A true market innovation, consisting of qualified meetings of pitches enabling access to the market, investors, mentors and media experts.
  • Want to expand your startup in the Silicon Valley? Silicon Valley Camp offers every year this opportunity up to 10 startups.
  • Check out one of the biggest innovation contest powered by Huawei, the Digital IN-pulse.

Volunteering Possibilities:

  • The European Innovation Academy is looking every year for innovation passionate volunteers helping with the organization’s tasks. You’ll have access to all the conferences and whole network for free – just contact Adina.

Get On Board: Find A Place For Yourself In Nice

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Steve Blank once said: get out of the building. You shouldn’t work alone and only focus on the product, you need to get feedback, get help, get human interactions. Join the community, it is why co-working space have became so popular and you should think about it. Fortunately, Nice and the region have many places where you can work, and several ones are next to the beach 😉

Co-working Spaces In Nice & Sophia Antipolis:

  • Sofab is the Fab Lab of the Telecom Valley (yes they are present everywhere in the local startup universe), where you can work on your product and maybe meet your next associate.
  • EcoLab Cote d’Azur will enable you to rent the machines you need to embody your idea. If you do not have enough knowledge, you can be mentored.
  • Want to share a workshop of Arduino enthusiasts, NiceLab will open its door for you.
  • In the earth of Sophia Antipolis, NavLab is not only a co-working space, but also a workshop.
  • Using a .io domain, Coolwork really do inspire us, offering co-working space and business domiciliation.
  • The best place to co/work in Cannes with free coffee : Kitchen-cannes.
  • Three thousand co-working spaces in the world and of course one in Nice, check on regus.
  • If you already scaled to the top and need great co-working offices, Buro Club will find you the best one.
  • The CASA can offer a lot of services to your business including co-working.

Don’t Forget To Tank Your Finances In Nice

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Incubators:

  • Incubateur PACA-EST: This incubator offers a wide variety of programs, each of them is adapted to a specific type of project. From students to searchers, everyone should find something matching his needs.
  • ESA BIC France: This is the incubator of the European Space Agency, part of a network of eleven centers. It’s specialized in technologies that directly come from the aerospace domain. They give you a financial support up to 50.000 €, get you in touch with partners and bring their technical expertise.
  • SKEMA Business School Incubator, created in 2001, is powered by the professors of the school. They give you help to build your business plan strategy, find your finances and go through your market studies. They also advise you about your marketing and have juridical experts.
  • Telecom ParisTech: It’s the first French IT incubator. Their two locations are Paris and Nice (Sophia Antipolis). During 18 months, you’ll have access to all the ParisTech network: its professors, laboratories, ex-students and even more.
  • CEEI Nice Cote d’Azur has the Telecom ParisTech incubator as a partner.

Accelerators:

  • EIT Digital has a satellite in local university. We often work around their place and they are absolutely opened to news ideas. EIT Digital is a leading European open innovation organisation. Their mission is to foster digital technology innovation and entrepreneurial talent for economic growth and quality of life in Europe. They bring together entrepreneurs from a partnership of over 130 top European corporations, SMEs, start-ups, universities and research institutes. In year 2016 74M€ are dedicated to the accelerator, collaborative projects & educational projects.
  • Accelerateur Allianz is specialized in the internet of things (IoT) and the Big Data.
  • Le Village by Crédit Agricole is more opened accelerator, able to follow start-ups as much as bigger companies.
  • BA06 is for start-ups with a promising growth potential, that are eligible to risky placement of mutual funds.

Grants & Subventions:

Crowd Investing Platforms:

Angel Investors:

  • Angel Square is the community of the best angel investors of France.
  • Angels Bay is the community of the angel investors of the Nice Area including Monaco.
  • Sophia Antipolis has its own angel community: Sophia Business Angels.

Other Investment Opportunities:

Réseau Entreprendre is an association helping to find public investors for Nice-based entrepreneurs, who have an innovative service or product to present.

Finally, Look For More Advice In Nice

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Here you are. Willing to launch something incredible in Nice, but you just don’t know where to go first? You need to get a bit of advice to know where to start? First, do not forget that all the people quoted upon in incubators and accelerators will always be able to give you basic advices about universal steps to start your business. Moreover, there is this website that is specialized into building a company in France, thus it gives you important information regarding the national laws. You can also use the power of social networks to get in touch with the community, which will always be happy to give you tips and solutions. Tim and Sofiane are managing the French Riviera Rockets Facebook group : You’ll be able to ask your questions and young entrepreneurs will answer you very quickly. Finally, there are national organizations that are able to answer your questions and help you stay legal during your adventure : Pôle Emploi is the national leader of jobs management and La French Tech is more specialized into IT startups.

To conclude, Nice and its surroundings are very interesting to found your business. Indeed, the general environment is a great support: There are many entrepreneurs so you can find someone to work with, but also many companies that’ll be glad to make business with you. Moreover, the weather is just incredible and the location makes possible to do a lot of different activities. As students, we really feel that the region has much to offer us in terms of professional opportunities, but also in various supports to start our projects like French Riviera Rockets group or public conferences about entrepreneurship.

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Last updated: August 25th, 2016

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