Postcard from Paris: Windows Phone 7 driving innovation with tech start-ups & developers
When Steve Ballmer visited Microsoft’s French HQ in Paris a few weeks ago, he seemed pretty impressed with the entrepreneurial community here that puts France as one of Europe’s most competitive ICT markets, not least due to the Windows Phone 7 competition for developers.
An impressive 250 developers – in the main, small companies with big ideas – entered and the quality was so outstanding that we had a hard job whittling it down to just 7 on the day. Winner Graphic Stream’s Arcane Tower Defense is a great animated game complete with dragons, while Tequila Rapido’s Wizup was described on the day as ‘like Shazam but on steroids’.
The other five finalists facing a tough panel of judges were: Snoopit (a completely new way to shop – even lets you ‘virtually’ try on clothes!), mobile timesheet and expenses tracking from Ahead, a ‘virtual assistant’ app from i-dispo, deed-day.com (which encourages people to be better global citizens) and Winmote, an impressive tool that enables your mobile to act as a ‘remote control’ for all kinds of media.
One reason why young companies seem so excited about Windows Phone 7 is that it enables market-ready mobile applications to be developed in just a couple of weeks. And in tough markets like computer games, time is of the essence. So in our own small way, we’re helping these small organisations compete more effectively with the big players. Plus, thousands of French ICT companies (and 4 out of our 7 finalists) are benefiting from BizSpark, our global programme that gives start-ups access to free technology, support and market visibility.
Of course, it’s not just technology that makes for success – ‘cash is king’ as they say. France is one of the best countries in Europe for providing start-ups with government-supported public grants. Even a small amount can be make-or-break in those challenging early years. So it’s no surprise that France is one of our strongest regions for EUGA
, the European Grants Advisory, which helps SMEs with access to public funds. To see what I mean, take a look at the story behind SimplySim
Innovation comes when the best of cutting edge research meets the best of the business world. A great example is the ParisTech Entrepreneurs Incubator, part of ParisTech, a BizSpark Network Partner. The research and higher education consortium brings together 12 of France’s most prestigious Grandes Ecoles in the fields on engineering and business. ParisTech has already created 160 start-ups and 1,000 jobs and has an objective to create 80 start-ups by 2014. This is just one example of how investment in tech startups and SMEs is driving growth in the European economy
This week we see the EBAN Winter University come to Sophia Antipolis, Antibes, November 18-19, and the theme is Monetization of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. This event brings together Business Angel Investors from all over Europe and French startup Hop-Cube have been chosen to present to this prestigious gathering. I’m looking forward to going and seeing what the Angels have to say about European innovation and how we can improve our efforts with early stage technology companies.