The goal of the new government plan launched at the beginning of the year to boost innovation in France is to double the number of academic and research spin-offs. While in Nantes in November, the Deeptech Tour met with local businesses and investors. This is an opportunity to review one of the most fertile ecosystems for the emergence of deep tech startups.

Nantes is already home to nearly 40 deep tech companies, according to Most of the startups operate in Healthcare 4.0 (many researchers have chosen the Nantes University Hospital for its excellent reputation) and Industry 4.0. In Healthcare 4.0, some promising startups include Goliver Therapeutics, I-Sep, Hera-Mi, Gliocure, Xenothera, Naogen Pharma, Atlangram, and NatéoSanté. And in Industry 4.0, many startups operate in the field of marine renewable energies, among other sectors: Hydrocéan, Nextflow Software, Elwave, Wegoto, Mob-energy, Geps Techno, Metacoustic, Advanced Aerodynamic Vessels and X-Sun.

Goliver Therapeutics, the deep tech company focusing on regenerative medicine for the liver

Tuan Nguyen, researcher at INSERM and CEO of Goliver Therapeutics, talks to us about his journey, from the idea to the startup: “I pursued a career as a researcher in Switzerland and then in France. I chose Nantes because there is a strong medical community and a robust ecosystem built around innovation. I had no plans to start my own business, in fact I wanted to continue working in pure basic research. But I realised that my innovation could provide a real therapeutic breakthrough for liver patients. So I had knowledge that I could develop, patent and sell. In Nantes, I got the most amazing support from SATT Ouest Valorisation and Atlanpole. I then participated in the Start West competition, which enabled me to meet investors who believed in my project. Being a researcher is not enough: you need a network and people you can count on. Our goal is to be the first to release a regenerative liver drug to treat rare diseases in 2023".

Not every startup can be a deep tech company!

To be considered a deep tech startup, the company must meet certain specific criteria, namely:
- Propose a disrupting innovation (a process that will disrupt a market or a product that will create a new market)
- Be a spin-off from a research lab (public or private)
- Face technological barriers that are difficult to overcome
- Need long-term R&D development before reaching the market.
These technological breakthroughs concern all sectors of activity (healthcare, nutrition, energy, industry) and use cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, drones, electronics, biotechnology and more.

Why is Nantes Saint-Nazaire an attractive area for deep tech startups?

Nantes Saint-Nazaire has what it takes to promote the emergence of deep tech companies.
- A strong university research pool: University of Nantes, ITM Atlantique, Centrale Nantes, Oniris, ENSM, ENSA Nantes, Nantes University Hospital, Institut de Cancérologie de l'Ouest, Icam and Isen. “Nantes is the first university in France to have developed patents, and the University's Capacités subsidiary is growing at 13% per year," says Olivier Laboux, President of the University of Nantes.
- Research development and transfer organisations needed to develop the innovations invented in laboratories: SATT Ouest Valorisation, INSERM, CNRS, Armines, Ifsttar, CEA Tech in Bouguenais and Ifremer.
- Not to mention the Jules Verne Technological Research Institut, competitiveness clusters and private investor networks.
- Business accelerators: deep tech startups can count on experienced incubators and business accelerators.
Atlanpole, a public incubator since 1999, was certified in April 2019, with SATT Ouest Valorisation and the other three science and technology centres in Pays de la Loire. This " French Tech Seed Pays de la Loire” consortium identifies, assesses and supports deep tech companies. Atlanpole provides tailored support and tools for these novel startups: Team Impulse and Deeptech Matching to help researchers build their teams.

As for financing, today’s business climate is particularly favourable to investment. France ranks second in Europe for startup creation and first for startups that have found an investor! BPI’s Deeptech plan calls for financing more than 2,000 deep tech startups over five years, for a total of 1.3 billion euros. There’s never been a better time to go for it!