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Venture-capital: Clément Cordier, assistant manager of 3i France

For eight months, it seems that Sophia Antipolis and the key actors are waking up and are coming back rapidly…



Assistant manager of 3i France, Clément Cordier is in charge of venture capital activity, ie all what deals about investment in start-ups. Until today, 3i, the biggest venture capitalist in Europe was not dealing with the French Riviera. It had just taken a few part in Elaiapharm, a firm from health sector in Sophia Antipolis. Since that, 3i has invested in another Sophipolitan start-up: Opt(e)way. In April 1999, 3i brought 12 million francs to the firm which is launching a new digital cartography standard, in June 2000, it invested 112 million francs.

At the end of August, 3i invested 22 million francs in another Riviera company: videosports, a Nice start-up, specialized in software and integrated systems dedicated to sports and media professional workers.

As a venture capitalist, what do you think of the Riviera?
Clément Cordier:
At the beginning, the whole French Riviera, with Sophia Antipolis as technological capital, has always been considered as a privileged area for young firms and high technologies. But, we were a bit disappointed some time ago. In France venture capital market only took off in 1998. Venture capital investment was doubled in 1998 and multiplied three times in 1999.

But more than 70% of the projects were coming from Paris and we did not feel any activity in Sophia. Some years ago, we had thought about implanting a premise in the technopole, but nothing was happening, so we gave up the idea. Sophia Antipolis and the clusters have only begun to wake up 8 months ago, and are now coming back very massively. However, the French Riviera had been the first technopole to host a meeting about venture capital, but it was passed over by Paris and its Capital IT.

What are the French Riviera assets?
Clément Cordier:
Through Sophia Antipolis, different things exist: a base, an history, references with the settlements of subsidiaries, research centers, big groups' international sections, which needed to attract a great number of foreign people. There is also a reception infrastructure. The negative point is the lack of premises. Sophia Antipolis has several elements: energy, abilities, financial means, an international culture, an international airport, a quality of life highly superior than Paris'. But it does not have premises.

However, when it is about to create a start-up with international ambitions, two poles are imposing in France: Paris and Sophia Antipolis.

What should the French Riviera do?
Clément Cordier:
Communicate even more on what is existing. And reinforce mass effect. Start-up managers like well net-working. They also like to meet, to call each others often. The community effect is very important. However, if we decided to open a high-tech premise out of Paris, it would be in Sophia for sure…'

Contact:
clement_cordier@3i.com


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