Pierre Laffitte helps the start-ups to grow
Senator Pierre Laffitte, the president of the Sophia Antipolis Foundation, has been working on innovation for a long time. He launched the Sophia Start Up club.
- Sophianet.com : what is the vocation of the Sophia Start Up club ? Pierre Laffitte :In last October, the Sophia Antipolis Foundation had organized a first meeting with the leaders of start-ups, in order to know what they expected exactly. Most of them told us they needed a place of meetings and of social interaction, in view to talk about their experiences, to find solutions to selective problems, and to exchange address books. So, we created this club, where meetings attract more and more people.- You would like to see Sophia Start Up working on-line with other clubs, of the same kind. Which clubs ? Pierre Laffitte :We have contacts with Croissance Plus, in Paris, that works in the same way. In Germany , a club of start-ups is at the planning stage in Munich, under the aegis of the FAST association and of the Software Offensive Bayern. In Great-Britain, a partner club that will be called 'Sophia UK' is being created, an other one is going to be set up in Cambridge. We also signed an agreement with Tunisia to sponsor the launching of a club in Tunis.- Which analysis are you inspired from the burgeoning of start-ups ? Pierre Laffitte :I am very happy of that. It makes me feel optimistic for the future of the technopole. The burgeoning is partly the result of our work at the Foundation : many years ago, we organized the first colloquium of venture capital, and several meetings to make the new innovating companies known… I have always been working so that the technopole could be a place of start-up concentration.- What do you think of private initiatives that aim at being with the start-ups ? Pierre Laffitte :I think it is very good ! In the changing area of new technologies, public initiatives are useful, but favouring private initiatives is something absolutely needed. Public structures do not have the reactivity and the flexibility it is required to be in the running. On that point, I do agree with the consent of the Foundation to support an other company, Sophia International Start Up Factory, which is being constituted. This is an American expert in venture capital, Jeff Warner, who is at the origin of this company.Its role will be to accompany plan holders at the European level. This private industrial incubator will retain plans with high innovation and growth potential, in different buoyant domains : information sciences, life sciences, chemistry, physics… It could form partnerships with companies that have just been created, as Up-e, Start-Up Connexion, Early Stages…- At the level of France and of Europe, do you think the environment is more in favour of the new economy ? Pierre Laffitte :In Lisbon, the European leaders said they would like to create a Europe that could be as powerful as the USA, economically, but the reality does not fit their ambition at the moment. In the scope of my duties within the parliamentary Office of scientific and technological choices, I have just finished a report about the research-industry cooperation in Europe. I will set out my closes on April 4th, in Paris. My report is severe : great efforts remain to be done to create a real European space of research-development.- Does the mobilization in favour of innovation go by a more active support of the start-ups ? Pierre Laffitte :Yes, it does. It must be a French and a European priority. But, it needs a linked will from the whole of the actors. As far as the political circle is concerned, there are still reluctances and a failure to understand the stakes, on the left as on the right, at a national level as at a local one.For my part, I am convinced the French Riviera can become the main melting pot of a breeding ground of start-ups, of an international scale for Europe and the Mediterranean