The Partech Shaker: Open Innovation in France’s Silicon Sentier

Partech Ventures’ 17 December inauguration of the Partech Shaker was groundbreaking for the venture capital fund. No VC has launched such a project before; as the world’s first open innovation campus, it houses forty-odd digital startups across nine floors in the old Figaro offices in Paris.

Business incubators and accelerators are flourishing in the tech industry, especially in Paris where ‘Silicon Sentier’ has become shorthand for French Tech. But Partech Shaker is quite different: it’s not an incubator, as it hosts many companies that are already established; nor is it a classic accelerator, because the mentors are companies that come to do business or join forces for open innovation projects with the startups.

The Partech Shaker aims to put into practice Henry Chesbrough’s concept of freeing up innovation by promoting knowledge-sharing, cooperation and emulation between businesses, even when they’re potential competitors or, conversely, may seem only distantly related. As things stand, seven big international groups – Haworth, BNP Paribas, Saint-Gobain, Econocom, Dentsu Aegis Network, France Télévision and Lagardère Interactive – will be working alongside startups in every stage of growth. Rather than each sticking with their own kind, these companies are going to be rubbing shoulders. As the veterans share some of their experience, professionalism and contacts, they will benefit from the newcomers’ fresh vision and energy.

At the inauguration, Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron and Minister for Digital Affairs Axelle Lemaire hailed this initiative as a sign that French Tech is taking off. Marcon’s speech praised the risk-taking and entrepreneurial spirit of the Partech Shaker venture, anticipating that this ‘healthy rivalry’ will help to create the large CAC 40 groups of the future.