The Aix-Marseille region is now on the radar in the French digital economy. Since receiving its first metropolis label in 2014, the Provence region, along with 12 other major French cities, was awarded on 3 April 2019 the new “Capital” label issued by the Ministry of Economy. Pascal Lorne, President of the new Aix-Marseille French Tech Région Sud Capital, plans on using this limelight to boost the territory’s attractiveness. A core part of the national strategy, Tech for Good explores the ways in which digital technology can improve how we live together.

Since being awarded the three-year French Tech Capital Label on 3 April 2019, the Aix-Marseille region has gained visibility, legitimacy and maturity. Over the last few years, the Provence technology ecosystem has continued to expand, today housing 800 start-ups and presenting a new identity, Aix-Marseille French Tech Région Sud.

Within four years, the number of underwater communication cables connecting Marseille to the rest of the world has doubled and is expected to reach 18 cables in 2019. This infrastructure has led to the emergence of new data centers and the arrival of leaders in telecommunications, thus drawing in large groups and start-ups.

This vitality is backed by Provence Promotion statistics. In 2018, the investors’ agency examined 68 start-up projects versus 32 in 2015. Since 2015, the result has been approximately a hundred establishments representing 1,990 jobs, with digital currently accounting for 36% of the agency’s projects and 35% of jobs.

In the ecosystem, fast-growing start-ups are sparking the interest of Paris investors. “A meeting is scheduled for 14 June 2019 with France Invest and France Digitale”, announces Pascal Lorne, President of Aix-Marseille French Tech Région Sud. For the founder of GoJob, the roadmap hinges on the international projection of businesses as well as on a new way of understanding new technology.

Tech for Good at the end of 2019

One of his priorities within the national strategy is to elevate Marseille Provence as a Tech for Good capital in order to promote equitable and inclusive technological solutions for the common good. “We are launching new technologies in the aim of living in a better world. The sun provides Provence with an image as a tourist location. But the sun also provides energy to change the way we innovate and live”, emphasizes Pascal Lorne. As an example, the Aix-Marseille French Tech Région Sud President cites the “Digital platform” which teaches inner-city youth how to code, or even the Emerging Valley Summit which aims to make the region a hub for African technology in response to local challenges. The popularity of Tech for Good is such that a summit will be held in the region at the end of the year.

Aix-Marseille French Tech Région Sud will pursue the internationalization of start-ups, in particular thanks to the organization of joint missions abroad (CES in Las Vegas, DLD Innovation Forum in Tel Aviv, Start-up Fest in Montreal, and more). Lorne also hopes to strengthen the partnership established with Provence Promotion and communities to promote the territory. “I have successfully brought together incubators and accelerators in the region. Région Sud will occasionally fund events with a global reach”, he explains.

In 2018, 25 local start-ups were presented at CES in Las Vegas. A number of them returned with awards, including Beelife which took home the Holy Grail for its high-tech hive, the “Best of Innovation Awards”. The ever-increasing number of start-ups setting up in Provence is also thanks to the proliferation of hosting facilities, both general (M, Kedge, P Factory) and specialized (ZeBox, Obratori, Incubateur du Barreau de Marseille, thecamp). The WeSprint accelerator has recently been launched through Euroméditerranée at the Wellio co-working space.