Next 40/French Tech 120: what to remember from the class of 2023

Jean-Noël Barrot, Minister Delegate for Digital.

© Twitter — Jean-Noël Barrot

The hour of the verdict has come for French Tech. Each beginning of the year is indeed marked by the announcement of the list of French start-ups selected to integrate the Next 40 and French Tech 120 indices. government has lifted the veil on the class of 2023. This is the fourth edition of this program launched in 2019 by the French Tech Mission to highlight and support the nuggets of French tech. In this new list, 27 companies are included in the list of 120 start-ups making up the two indices, compared to 30 in 2022. Six young shoots even land directly in the Next 40.

French Tech

While some companies, such as Back Market, BlaBlaCar, Doctolib, Ledger, Lydia, Qonto and Vestiaire Collective are used to being among the winners of the Next 40, the most prestigious index, there are still some changes to note. In the wake of OVHcloud and Believe in 2022, Deezer in turn leaves the charts, insofar as the tricolor specialist in streaming music made its IPO last year. On the other hand, it’s a cold shower for Meero, which no longer appears in this ranking of the 120 most successful companies in the ecosystem. Tested by the Covid-19 pandemic, the start-up specializing in photography is struggling to regain its cruising speed. It recently changed bosses and embarked on a strategic shift to relaunch its growth.

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Finally a female leader in the Next 40

Unsurprisingly, we find the 26 French unicorns within the Next 40. Among them, EcoVadis and NW Storm are included for the first time in the flagship French Tech index. In total, the latter has 11 new entrants, including Pigment. Its co-founder and CEO, Eléonore Crespo, is also the first female leader to appear in the Next 40. She is among the 15 female leaders of the 2023 promotion of the 120 most promising French companies, compared to only five in 2020. If this progression should be emphasized, it is still very insufficient. Faced with this problem, the French Tech mission launched a pact in favor of parity in the ecosystem last year. In particular, it aims to reach a minimum threshold of 20% of women on boards of directors by 2025, which will increase to 40% in 2028.

This new edition also highlights the rise in importance of key themes carried by the France 2030 plan. Thus, there are 10 start-ups committed to the ecological transition in the Next 40, including seven new ones, such as EcoVadis and Electra. There is also a breakthrough in young industrial shoots, with seven representatives in the Next 40, including three new ones, like Flying Whales, Innovafeed And Verkor. These three companies also carry the colors of DeepTech, which is represented by eight companies in the index.

5.8 billion euros raised by the winners

These various companies succeeded in raising capital last year, despite a more cautious venture capital market at the end of a euphoric first quarter marked by mega-fundraisings such as those of Qonto (486 million euros) and Back Market (450 million euros), announced a few hours apart in January 2022. In total, the companies in the class of 2023 raised 5.8 billion euros, of which 4.3 billion just by those of the Next 40. As a reminder, French start-ups raised 13.5 billion euros in 2022, or 17% more than in 2021.

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As for the cumulative turnover of all the 120 companies in the program, it reached 11.3 billion euros in 2022, against 9.5 billion in 2021. Among them, Agriconomie saw its revenues increase from 40 million euros in 2020 to 90 million in 2022, while Mirakl reports having generated more than $6 billion in business volume on its platforms in the past year and more than $135 million in annual recurring revenue. To date, the 120 winners represent 47,800 direct jobs worldwide, including 31,400 in France.

New criteria to develop the program

While this highly anticipated list in the ecosystem provides an overview of the vitality of French Tech, it is essentially based on the ability of the selected start-ups to raise funds. However, this indicator is increasingly decried, especially since the valuations of many young shoots have collapsed in 2022 due to a more difficult economic context. The calls to take into account other more relevant indicators seem to have been heard, since the Élysée announced that a reflection on the selection criteria had been initiated with the ministers concerned, in particular Jean-Noël Barrot, for the promotion of 2024. In the meantime, the 2023 vintage is distinguished by the consideration of social and environmental commitments.

This is a first step before deeper changes. Emmanuel Macron should distill some clues on this subject by speaking to the 120 winners and other players in the ecosystem this Monday to take stock of the 10 years that have passed in French Tech and project himself towards the next 10.

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