Atlantic France: a region at the forefront of digital transformation

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AI, VR, Big Data, and other digital technologies continue to profoundly change professional practices and the structure of the economy. At a time when digital technology has become a major vector of development and regulatory changes are encouraging international players to set up in Europe, Atlantic France has established itself as one of the leading French regions in terms of employment and attractiveness. Here’s the recipe for success.

While the epicentre of the digital economy has long been on the other side of the Atlantic, Europe is laying the foundations for a new balance. In a tense geopolitical context, the availability of sovereign digital tools has become a priority. In addition,  the world’s first AI law, electronic evidence regulations, as well as consumer behaviour, are driving international companies to set up in Europe to gain a better understanding of the market.

French customers place high value on local presence. The lack of translation and French-speaking contacts is a major obstacle to developing a digital service in France. There is a strong expectation of proximity and peer-to-peer exchange, and local networks such as French Tech are therefore the best market accelerators.

A priority sector for the Atlantic France economy

The Atlantic France region is a land of industry, boasting a large number of companies in sectors such as food processing and manufacturing that need digital solutions to enhance their processes, competitiveness, and environmental sustainability. Digital technology is therefore a priority sector that can count on strong public support. 

Angers recently welcomed the first European subsidiary of Vitesse Automation. Founded by a former Tesla employee who developed a no-code solution to create a mega-factory in Shanghai in just six months, this highly innovative company specialises in the digitalisation of industrial assembly lines. In Atlantic France, this promising startup benefits from its proximity to a large number of potential customers, a hotbed of players, and a remarkable talent pool.

The region is also at the forefront of immersive reality, with the Laval Virtual event leading the way and attracting major players in the sector every year. It also positioned itself very early in AI, IoT, and no-code technologies, bolstered by a community of over 14,000 people – ranking first globally., This community provides an effective response to the shortage of developers, earning Nantes the title of “no-code capital” by Notion’s Head of Community for Europe. 

A well-structured digital ecosystem

In 2023, the Atlantic France region won a European call for projects that led to the creation of a European Digital Innovation Hub (EDIH) known as DIVA. This initiative, which focuses on the ethical and responsible use of AI and data, will run for three years and could be extended for a further four. It brings together 11 reference structures to provide a one-stop-shop for industrial companies looking for support to innovate and digitise their business.

This dynamism is reflected throughout the region, which is characterised by its dense digital network; there is an active French tech community in each of the five departments and, on average, every 100 kilometres.

The ecosystem is supported by clusters and innovation platforms. These include generalists such as La Cantine, ADN Ouest, SPI numérique, and LMT, and specialists such as Proxinnov for robotics, WeNetwork for IoT, and Clarté for immersive reality. Additionally, national and international professional events such as Web2day, the West Data Festival, and Laval Virtual also contribute to the ecosystem. As well as this, academic excellence is exemplified by institutions such as the LS2N laboratory at the University of Nantes, which was the first in France to win a prestigious Emmy Award in engineering and technology for its work with Netflix.   

Driving forces that are propelling us upwards

The dynamism and quality of this ecosystem are attracting major players in the digital sector, such as Doctolib and Microsoft, which has opened its first Experiences Lab in France in Nantes, and has led to the development of a number of promising companies. These include:

  • Akeneo is the world leader in Product Information Management (PIM) thanks to its open-source solutions that help brands and manufacturers deliver enriched, engaging, and relevant product experiences across all sales channels.  The company raised €122 million in 2022;
  • Clever Cloud is a platform-as-a-service offering an innovative, secure, and sovereign automated solution for hosting, deploying, and maintaining online applications. The company is growing fast and has recently won some major contracts.
  • Crisp is a customer relationship management platform that stands out for its agility and willingness to share its expertise across regional networks. The chatbot solution developed by the company is used by over 500,000 businesses worldwide.

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Download our guide on the digital sector in Atlantic France to find out everything you need to know. 

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