Funded entirely by the communities of Nantes and Saint-Nazaire, the Maia Mater program is unique in Europe.
Get your startup off the ground in just 5 months? You can in Nantes Saint-Nazaire, and nowhere else! Launched before the summer, the Maia Mater program has enabled about 30 young people - 20 to 40 years old - to take their projects from the idea phase to startup with a robust business model.
Housed in the former Mellinet military barracks, the entrepreneurs are 200% invested in their projects. “This used to be a barracks, we provide them with beds and food 24/7. Nine students from Epitech share the same dormitory, which is the best way for them to find out if they are able to work together,” says Clever Cloud Director Quentin Adams, one of the coaches who worked on the projects.
Funded by the local governments of Nantes and Saint-Nazaire, Maia Mater is the first totally free program for young first-time entrepreneurs in digital tech, a sector of excellence. Neither incubator nor accelerator, the Maia Mater program is a new type of program. “We are the only ones to provide free support for 3 years: 4 months in Nantes the first year, 1 month in Saint-Nazaire during the second year and a one-day coaching session per week the third year,” explains Terence Desclain, the coach of the Maia Mater team.
The Maia Mater program has two goals. First, to help “do-ers”: “Our idea is to support developers, designers, people who have a product vision and the drive to succeed,” says Quentin Adams, who supports the project and uses his entrepreneurial experience to mentor novices. Another unique feature of Maia Mater is that it brings together laboratory researchers and startups. “This model of startup support has proven effective in countries like Israel,” says Francky Trichet, local official in charge of innovation and digital tech, instigator of the project and teacher-researcher at the University of Nantes, who is proud of this “100% public program”.
After 5 months of hard work, the first session of Maia Mater ended Friday 22 September. Out of the dozen projects presented at the start, 8 have survived this first phase. “We had to shut down some projects because we realized that they wouldn’t be viable. The people involved shifted their energy and ideas onto other teams,” explains Quentin Adams.
Based on the success of this first operation, the initiators expect to issue a new call for projects in 2018. “Our ambition is to replace the end of studies internship at computer science or design schools with a real possibility to start a business”.
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