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“There is still time to lay the foundations for a digital economy in the colors of Europe”


Ia publication of the latest editions of the indexes Next40 and FT120selection of the 120 most promising innovative French companies, is an opportunity to return to a nagging question: are we, today better than yesterday, capable of creating the conditions for the development on European soil of the next digital giants? , which until now have remained the prerogative of the United States and China, at a time when the foundations of a new Internet are being put in place?

Part of the finding is encouraging when we look at the number of « unicorns (companies valued at more than 1 billion dollars): France will soon have around thirty of them, thus catching up with Germany, but still far from the UK’s fifty. Europe now totals some 150 unicorns, which makes it possible to get closer to the 180 Chinese start-ups, while remaining far from the United States which has more than 550.

On the other hand, when we focus on the top of the table, France has not yet been able to generate « decacorns (valued at over $10 billion) out of the five current Europeans – (payment platform), Revolut (neobank) and Global Switch (datacenters) in the United Kingdom, Celonis (data analysis) in Germany and Klarna (split payment) in Sweden – against about thirty in the United States and about ten in China.

An obstacle course

In this mixed context, it appears that the race for size through international growth has already begun for more than 60% of the companies in these indexes (nearly 80% for those in the Next40). Significant fundraising is also generally carried out to accelerate the duplication on other markets of an economic model that has proven itself in France.

For the remaining ten or so, which only develop in France, it is most often because their international deployment is in progress. As for Zeplug, which must cover the territory with charging stations for electric vehicles before setting out to conquer Europe, or for Flying Whales, cargo transport by airship, which is preparing the construction of factories in the United States and in Asia.

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Developing in Europe is still an obstacle course, because approaching each country is a new challenge in terms of cost, time and risk. Only a quarter of Next40/FT120 companies are present in Europe in at least five countries, whereas a third are already established in the United States (one out of two for Next40).

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