Q- Tell us about Retis.
Retis is France’s national innovation network. Fror 30 years, we have been bringing together all the various institutions and organizations that deal with innovation locally: technology clusters, European business and innovation centers, incubators and certain competitiveness clusters.
Retis includes about a hundred organizations who share the goal of helping to create innovative businesses, encourage growth and stimulate French innovation.
We are represented throughout France, particularly thanks to the "Technopole" (technology cluster) label, which guarantee a local area’s ability to channel its support for innovation. Our strong point is in being locally anchored across the country.
Our members help between 4500 to 5000 companies every year. They support them in financing projects, fundraising, strategy and growth plans, providing office space and other services... 2/3 of these companies are startups or young SMEs, and 1/3 are companies that have been around for a bit longer who we help grow.
Q- Ecomasterclass is one of the tools you have developed. What is it?
The Retis network is a network of professionals who want to capitalize on their know-how in innovation. We share ideas about best practices and host meetings and events like the Ecomasterclass, which is one of our training modules.
The EcoMasterClass program, which is supported by the ADEME, has been operated in partnership with one of our members, Creativ, for the past 3 years. The program is original in the way it mixes companies and organizations that support them. It involves group coaching for innovation professionals and for eco-innovative companies.
Companies that participate get expert advice on their projects from a pool of experts. Thanks to our major corporate partners, the events have an aspect of open innovation.
Q- Why create a partnership between ENGIE and Retis?
In recent years we have been developing partnerships with major corporations. Retis and its members create special channels between these major players and startups, both for sourcing suppliers and sharing information with and among them.
Thanks to our strong local roots, Retis can help power ENGIE’s initiatives, challenges and calls for projects through to our network throughout the country.
Q- In what ways does ENGIE’s approach seem original to you?
It’s particularly proactive. It’s no coincidence that we are holding our winter seminar at your office. You help structure innovation in a way that is accessible and makes it easy to share ideas.
Q- What are the overlaps with what you do and what’s happening abroad?
Retis has hosted startup exchanges from the other national-level networks we partner with, but also thanks to some individual initiatives on the part of our members.
FACE is one of our training programs focused on how to set up shop in the United States, and of course we also use tools like the FrenchTech Ticket or community-level initiatives.
For networking purposes, we have strong partnerships in the United States, developing ones in South Africa, and of course others at the European level, with Italy, for example. Some of our members are also members of EBN (European Business Network) which gives us access to 240 umbrella organizations all across Europe, which can also help startups get a foot in the door internationally.
Q- What would you like to happen for the Retis network in 2017?
Of course I have more than one wish! But if I have to choose only one, it would be that France recognizes the expertise involved in driving innovation and that people have more confidence in what already exists. Let's try to use the tools that already exist, like the BPI, instead of trying to invent new ones.
As far a support for innovation goes, we are one of the best endowed countries in the world, especially for companies in the startup phase.
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