Sophia Euro Lab : the first European initiative
Launched at the Foundation of Sophia Antipolis, this incubator with a financial support is the first institution of this kind to gather banks of three countries : France, Germany, and Luxembourg.
It finally happened! The French Riviera and its start-ups were waiting for it for a long time. The County Council was aiming to create an investment company to help young firms to develop. However, this project is on the way since three years and isn't set up yet. Fortunately, the private sector took over. An incubator, with a financial support worth 10 million euros minimum, has been launched on Thursday December 11th 2001 at the Foundation of Sophia Antipolis.Three influential partnersSponsored by the Foundation, Sophia Euro Lab is even the first initiative in this field. 'It is the first time in Europe, underlines the senator Pierre Laffite, a tri-national institution of financial support is set up'. Indeed, the institution gathers partners of three European countries, who are serious and reliable. The powerful CDC PME ( deposit and consignment office) , that was represented during the official launching by its president Albert Ollivier, the Bayerische Landesbank, which focuses on the overall region of Munich and a famous investment fund of Luxembourg, the Johnson Paradign Ventures are all gathered. For Albert Ollivier, Sophia Euro Lab is also one of the best projects the CDC PME has run on a regional scale. Institutions of the same kind were established in Toulouse, in the region Ille de France. Others are under consideration in the region Rhône Alpes. However, none gathers European partners and institutions of the same scale.Funds in the process of being signedThe decisions whether to help companies or not will be taken by a committee. A person in charge of the institution and a representative of each investor will contribute to this committee. ' What's more, the CDC isn't restricted to the priming. It can also invest on the second round'.What are the delays to start up? 'We are on the way to sign for the funds. It is possible to start investing as soon as a case will be received and approved. 'A director, Pierre Taillardathas already been appointed.The other significance of Sophia Euro Lab which is going to focus particularly on the French Riviera is to have a stronger link with Munich, one of the best European centres in NTIC. It was underlined by Dr Rudolf Hanisch, management member of the Bayerische Landesbank, which was contributing to the presentation together with Candace Johnson, Johnson Paradigm,Ventures' president and about a hundred actors of Sophia.