Tour Blog: Innovation Systems of Paris

The tour participants visited 9 innovation companies in Paris. New experience and impressions!

From April 7 to 9, participants of the corporate management tour visited 9 companies in Paris! 

Day 1
Orange Fab France
In the company office

The tour started with the dinner with the international development director of the company Orange Fab France. It was a bright opening of the tour. A little more about the company: Orange Fab France is a platform that selects promising startups and several times a year offers them programs to stimulate growth and improve management.

The initial goal was to establish a commercial partnership with the lines of the Orange market and the lines of partners of major groups both in France and abroad. Launched in 2013, the accelerator today manages 17 startup development programs on 4 continents. This allows startups to have access to national and international markets for launching and internationalizing products or services in collaboration with Orange.

The duration of the acceleration program in Orange Fab France is 13 weeks

Day 2
Visiting Creative Valley in Station F
Our group

Creative Valley is a network of startup incubators that has already launched more than 100 projects in 11 areas (VR, Smart Cities, eHealth, AI). New teams with innovation projects have chance to collaborate with large companies directly. Also startups are offered an incubation program with various trainings and seminars.

Creative Valley is a partner of more than 20 schools and universities, which employ about 40 startups.

Since 2011, 4 creative centers and 10 new centers have been opened. Events are planned for every week. The speakers are guest business experts and members of the Creative Valley team. More than 20 school and university partners in France and other countries. More than 11 areas of business expertise (Fashion Tech, AI, Robotics, VR, eHealth, Smart Cities, Food & Ag Tech). More than 100 projects were launched in all areas of activity.

50 Partners

If you want to share knowledge effectively and be at the center of innovation, join with those who built the companies and create an accelerator. 50 top managers from France did that and named their community «50 Partners». “Today at the meeting I felt how correct this approach is. No more meaningless conferences with talking heads! It's time to do business, ”- says Alesia Glushchuk, managing partner of FastForward.

50 successful entrepreneurs

50 Partners is a French accelerator, founded by 50 successful start-up entrepreneurs. The organization provides co-founders with mentoring, offices and network connections to influence the development of technical projects at early stages.

One of the unique services - Startup Exchanges, allows 50 Partners startups to discover new opportunities via the global network of partner accelerators (New York, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Tel Aviv, Berlin, London ...). The accelerator also organizes business trips twice a year. These trips aimed at meeting with major players of overseas ecosystems (venture capitalists, accelerators, entrepreneurs, corporate companies), discussing trends and establishing business partnerships. The development occurs in the following stages:

  • mentoring (working with 50 practical entrepreneurs during seminars and face to face meetings).
  • financing (includes assistance in creating a financial strategy).
  • international development with the support of global incubators of partners.

The acceleration period takes 72 weeks. 50 Partners annual income is $3'000'000.

Group is waiting for a new meeting


This business school decided to provide few innovations to confirm the status of Europe's leading educational institution in the field of entrepreneurship and digital innovations. The result is obvious: 65 startups in a business incubator, 3 research laboratories, 9 specialties, a car and dozens of corporate partners and sponsors.

Key facts:

  • 400 projects supported every year.
  • 100% of students focused on entrepreneurship and innovation.
  • 40 years of experience in development of entrepreneurial programs.

The Family is the "sunday school" for entrepreneurs, fully adapted to the French market.

The Family has one of the most attractive webpages that any entrepreneur can appreciate. This Paris-based accelerator offers a “sunday school” for entrepreneurs and a special program for creating a European startup. What worked well in the Silicon Valley may not be a success in Paris, so this accelerator targets programs to apply within defined region.

Every quarter, about 20 startups join The Family.

In 2018, the company attracts a new fund and receives $17'400'000 funding.

Today the company has portfolios of more than 200 active startups in London, Paris and Berlin.

It is worth mentioning that The Family builds similar infrastructure of start-ups in Europe, where it plans to get 5% of shares for free in exchange for support of a startup.

The group discussion


WAI (We Are Innovation) - was created to support all companies that want to innovate, bringing together beginners, ETI customers (medium-sized companies) and large enterprises. For beginners banking support in France, WAI Banking and abroad (WAI International) is provided by specialized and trained teams. Since 2012, 16 WAI offices have been deployed in France. The network is constantly expanding and now contains more than 40 new points in France.

Since the initiators of start-ups need to raise funds and increase their capital, the company has investment initiatives in funds of initial and venture capital, as well as in  WAI venture capital fund in a subsidiary of BNP Paribas Development. During last 3 years, 74 startups have been launched.

WILCO Retail

WILCO Retail was originally founded as the Scientipôle Initiative in 2001  as a non-profit organization to support the creation of young innovative technology enterprises in the "Plateau de Saclay" (south of Paris).

WILCO is a unique accelerator program offering 5 industry tracks and helping selected innovative startups to reach their first million euros margin over 3 years.

Due to successful public / private business model (Council of the Paris region / Caisse des Dépôts + 35 corporate partners), WILCO is the only startup accelerator in Europe offering:

  • Three-year multi-level acceleration program, which includes 150 new startups per year: 15 startups with 5 accelerators twice a year.
  • 5 industries: healthcare, retail, industry, digital communications and BtoC.
  • Comprehensive support services package focused on key growth levers for innovative start-ups: business development, financing, HR, communication / media.
  • Interest-free financing: up to 120 thousand euros with 0% business loans for a startup; no personal guarantee required.
  • Ecosystem created for and around young entrepreneurs: mentors, entrepreneurs, business developers, public partners, corporate partners, investors.
  • The non-profit model is 100% consistent with the interests of entrepreneurs.
Day 3
University of Paris - Saclay

After so much knowledge acquired and innovations seen accompanied with constant generation of new ideas and unbearable thirst for new projects our brains seemed to reach their boiling point.

During this final day of the trip, the tour participants twice suffered the shock associated with Silicon Valley in French.

The first impression of the day was the visit to the University of Paris-Saclay. 

University of Paris - Saclay

The huge campus of the "mega-university" Paris-Saclay will consolidate two universities, ten high schools and seven research institutes - 19 educational organizations in total.

The University of Paris-Saclay has already been named one of the most ambitious projects in Europe - the “French Silicon Valley”. According to Dominique Vernet, Chairman of the Board of the Paris-Saclay Foundation, Paris-Saclay should become one of the best multi-disciplinary universities in Europe and raise France’s level in the global ranking of universities ("The Local"). Leading architects and architects from around the world, including So Fujimoto, took part in the process of construction of the campus. The total area of all the buildings in Paris-Saclay will exceed 1.3 million square meters. By 2020 investments in the project will reach 2.2 billion euros by 2020.

Colleagues have opened a crack in the door: we discovered for ourselves stages  of project development in  Deeptech, modern challenges in the field of artificial intelligence, creation of robots and autonomous machines.

The second impression was caused by the gods in the field of 3D design: Dassault Systèmes. The company implements the 3D experience principle and provides different companies with a virtual environment for creating sustainable innovations.

Dassault Systèmes software consists of CATIA for virtual product design, SolidWorks for mechanical 3D design, DELMIA for virtual production, SIMULIA for virtual testing, ENOVIA for global collaborative lifecycle management, 3DVIA for Internet realistic 3D modeling and Exalead for searching applications. In 2010, the company released the free CATI professional-grade beta versions of DraftSight, which runs on Linux, Mac, and Windows operating systems.


One of our principles is that we help our participants not only discover all the innovations of companies, but also enjoy the cultural heritage and features of the country.

Need impressions but short of time? Visit the Palace at Versailles!

The Palace at Versailles housed kings and queens of France . It was the place for important government meetings, diplomatic negotiations and even decisions to start  or end the war.

Beautiful, neat and masterfully planned city became an example for many European cities. It is worth noting that the architects involved in the construction of the first buildings in Washington were inspired by the work of their colleagues from France.

The Palace at Versailles has about 700 rooms. The Mirror Hall is a particularly famous place. It was usual place for high-level meetings, at the same time served as a big ball room. The silver throne of the monarch has always been the center of everything happening around..

Palace at Versailles

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Participants’ impressions of previous management tours: 
Having already taken part in educational tours, these people are happy to share their knowledge and impressions.
Anton Nesiforov
Anton NesiforovProcess Manager for fruit and vegetable preservation, beverages, and alcohol

On our tour of Germany, we visited the most famous food exhibition, the Green Week, as well as numerous retail chains and enterprises operating in various interesting industries. We have a lot to learn. We must take the best and use it. Thank you, FastForward, for your careful approach to creating this tour.

Alena Nesiforova
Alena NesiforovaUnified Concept Manager for Izbenka and VkusVill

We visited several retail stores in Germany, as well as manufacturing facilities. What we liked the most about the stores we visited was the high quality standards of German retail. Retailers know how to sell high-quality goods at affordable prices, and this is probably the main secret of Germany's retail success. As for production, we were inspired by some of the small family businesses we saw.