Culture is future » Innovation and digital


3 questions to... Pascal Keiser, general coordinator for French Tech Culture

How does the Bridge relate to the French Tech Culture project?

The Bridge accelerator is one of the two lungs of French Tech Culture, the other being continuous education and creating pools of excellence and of social insertion for which the operations will be launched in 2016.

The Bridge aims to create jobs, skills in a region where the economy suffered greatly, by using the potential of the large cultural events of the territory that are considered European references.

The creation of an acceleration platform around culture and technology, spillovers, a strategic vision for a cultural European digital metropolis that links the main festivals of the summer in Provence which attract more than 2 million spectators, was at the basis of this project. The Festival d’Avignon was the initiator behind French Tech Culture since 2013, accompanied by the Festival the Université d’Avignon.

The acceleration processes and mainly the post-acceleration where innovative solutions are deployed around a large cultural event, the analysis of the impacts and practices gives French Tech Culture a specific positioning within the landscape of French and European accelerators.

To us it also seemed important to create a special relationship between start ups and big players based on an open innovation approach, which is what we do with Orange, Microsoft and the Crédit Agricole Alpes Provence and two local « tech champions », Locatop (digital book) and B2PWeb (online logistical brokerage).

Concretely, 3 acceleration project calls are organized each year, each lasting 2 month, for a dozen start ups, the next call will be in the beginning of October 2015, and a living lab in July to welcome a limited number of projects targeted for intensive deployment, usage and impact tests. We also offer the possibility to deploy solutions in a dozen innovative cities via a global accelerator networks: San Francisco, Shanghai, Bengalore, Berlin, Tokyo, Tel Aviv, etc…

We dispose around twenty international mentors, from big players, from digital entrepreneurship, from finance and from law.

The Bridge is a French SAS with revenue streams for very small 5% minority participations in the accompanied startups.

Other projects related to training and social insertion are managed by an association (French) Law 1901.

What are the (principal) types of economic models developed by the start ups that are followed by the Bridge (subscriptions, payment for purchase, patronage, public subsidies, …) ? 

Culture in a broad sense as we consider it concerns all performing arts, visuals, image content and music but also tourism, mobility. All innovative services that these 2 million people use to prepare their trips, during their stay and after their leave.

We give priority to projects with economic models that are independent from public subsidies, but certain sectors are traditionally linked to public financing, for example festivals.

Having said that, breakthrough technologies that we are searching for are often tranposable to different domain of activities outside of culture : tourism, mobility, industry for example, which renders them de facto independent of public financing. The example of translating glasses in virtual reality, a world premier at the Cour d’Honneur this summer and winners of the first living lab, is a very good example of these type of externalities because from theatre, this technology can touch opera, cinema, tourism and industry.

What advice would you give to cultural entrepreneurs?

Precisely to not simply be a cultural entrepreneur but to think about transversal solutions in other domains, to respond to a true need and to have the capacities to pay. To succeed in transforming the creative force specific of cultural and artistic sectors, often interesting because disruptive, into an economic and technological projects that is successful and efficient, which is often complex and needs very varied skills.

Photos credits: David Bormans and Fabrice Sabre