In the last decades, startups have become essential to the world’s economic growth. In Europe, many countries are standing out in the startup landscape. Besides Italy, Greece and Portugal, France has proved to be a popular hub for tech research and innovation. In our previous article we showed you the most successful startups in France, the Unicorns. In this article, we will highlight the companies that are close to becoming unicorns, the French soonicorns.
Unicorns are known by such nickname for achieving every startup’s dream: To become valued at over $1 billion dollars by venture capitalists. In this article, we will talk about startups that are close to becoming unicorns, known as soonicorns. In another article we explain the definitions of these.
In France, the government is investing heavily on tech research and development, to the point where Paris became known as the silicon-Valley of France. In 2019, the government announced an investment plan of €2.5 billion to develop 500 startups starting in 2025.
The country already has 26 unicorn startups, but won’t stop there: According to the “France 2030 plan”, the government wants to invest €30 billion in the high-tech companies of the future. President Emanuel Macron has shown significant commitment to funding innovative startups. Macron declared that by 2030 he wishes France to have at least 100 unicorns.
With strong government support, commitment and investment, France might be able to achieve such a goal. In 2023 the startup sector managed to raise $6.7 billion in capital. With that, France’s soonicorns increase their chances of development and get closer to becoming unicorns. Below you can check out the list we made of the top 15 unicorns in France.
The startup was founded in 2014, and specializes in creating and managing websites and apps for companies. Platform.sh is behind all the infrastructure and development of these digital platforms, offering a collaborative and scalable environment for developers to build, test, and run websites. Platform.sh is currently valued between $560M-840M. The company’s last evaluation was made in June 2022.
Clubfunding is a crowdfunding platform focused on real estate investment. The platform connects investors with real estate projects, enabling them to contribute funds and participate in property development, fostering a community-based approach to real estate financing. Clubfunding’s latest valuation in 2022 estimated the company’s between $550m-825m. The paris-based company was also founded in 2014.
Flying Whales is an aerospace company developing airships for heavy cargo transportation. Their innovative airship technology aims to provide a cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution for transporting large and heavy goods. Flying whales was founded in 2012, and is located in Suresnes, just outside of Paris. The company is valued at $537m-805m.
Descartes Underwriting is an insurtech company specializing in climate risk modeling. They offer insurance to governments and corporations, assessing and underwriting climate-related risks, helping insurers and businesses navigate the challenges posed by climate change. The company is currently valued at $480m-720m. Descartes Underwriting is based in Paris and was founded in 2018.
Alma is a French fintech company specializing in banking and financial services. The company offers Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) solutions. Their platform allows consumers to make purchases and pay in installments, providing flexibility and affordability for online and in-store transactions. Alma is currently valued at $506m-759m. The Paris-based company was founded in 2018.
Deepki is one of the most popular soonicorns in the list. The company is currently valued between $660m-990m. Deepki is a startup focusing on sustainability in the real-estate business. Their platform helps property owners and managers optimize energy performance, reduce environmental impact by gathering data on sustainability metrics, like water use, carbon emissions and energy efficiency. Deepki was founded in 2014.
DNA script is a biotech startup that helps labs create custom DNA and enzymatic DNA synthesis for biotechnology applications. The company’s goal is to accelerate scientific discovery, facilitating researchers’ access to synthetic DNA. The company was founded in 2014 and is currently valued at $825m. DNA script is located just outside Paris.
Akeneo is an e-commerce platform. The startup centralizes and harmonizes product information management and product data software, facilitating and improving customer service. The company was founded in 2013, and is located in Nantes, in north-western France. As of March 2022 Akeneo is valued at $540m-810m.
Ornikar is an edtech startup revolutionizing driving education. Their online platform offers an accessible and affordable way for individuals to prepare for and obtain driving licenses through a combination of online courses and in-person lessons. Ornikar was founded in 2013, in Paris. The startup is valued at $750m since April 2021.
Homa Games is a startup specializing in mobile game development and publishing. They create and publish entertaining mobile games, reaching a global audience and leveraging innovative approaches to game design. Currently, Homa Games is valued at $400m-600m. The paris-based company was founded in 2018.
BeReal is a social media app released in 2020, and became very popular among young people. The app’s main idea is to allow users to share immediate real-time photos of themselves and their surroundings. BeReal is located in Paris and was founded in 2019. Currently the company is valued at $600M.
Pasqal is a quantum computing company. They focus on developing and commercializing quantum processors, contributing to the advancement of quantum computing capabilities for solving complex problems. One of Pascal’s founders, Alain Aspect, won the 2022 Nobel Prize in physics for his work with quantum mechanics. Pascal’s Latest valuation was at $440m-660m. The company is based in Paris and was founded in 2019.
Padoa is a workplace health platform. The company offers a platform for employers to provide healthcare services for employees in the workplace. Padoa’s software is dedicated to occupational health centers, providing healthcare professionals with tools to manage their staff and develop prevention strategies. Currently the Paris-based company is valued at $352m-528m. Padoa was founded in 2016.
Verkor is a battery manufacturing startup dedicated to accelerating the production of high-performance batteries for electric vehicles. They are considered one of the fastest-growing climate tech startups in Europe. Verkor wants to contribute to the transition to clean energy by providing scalable and sustainable battery solutions. The company is currently valued at $440m-660m. Verkor was founded in 2020 and is located in Grenoble.
I-ten is also a battery tech startup. The company focuses on developing and manufacturing microbatteries, often used in VR headsets, smartwatches and other miniature devices. The company is estimated to be 528m worth. I-ten is located in south-eastern France, close to Lyon, and was founded in 2012.
French soonicorns are definitely on the fast way to become unicorns. The government’s strong support and commitment to investing in startups is contributing to a solid development of new business ideas in the next 10 years.
The French government wants to expand the number of startups and unicorns from 26 to 100 by 2030. With all governmental investments, the country is on the way to achieving such a goal.