Receive the best of the blog and news from Laval Virtual every month!

ArrayBusinessLaval VirtualInterview

Village by CA: portrait of an innovation accelerating network

Un village by CA, réseau accélérateur start-ups et innovation

The Village by CA network works daily with over 1,300 startups.

Crédits photos : Village by CA

Village by CA is a unique organization in France, helping startups and young companies as an accelerator. The network is made of 44 villages spread in the country and overseas, benefiting from a national and international influence. Village by CA is a partner of the Laval Virtual event, where several companies specialized in immersive technologies are exhibiting. Interview with Timothée Broucke, mayor of the village of Laval in Mayenne.

Village by CA is a startup accelerator helping young companies with a spirit of open innovation. Can you talk a bit more about how it works?

A village is a local liaison of the Village by CA network. It was created in 2014 by the National Federation of Crédit Agricole. Its goal is to be an innovation accelerator at the service of the local companies. In the 44 villages of France, 1,350 startups are helped.

Those startups have reached an advanced level of maturity, already have clients and products that are sold. Village by CA is not an incubator. We don’t come to a village with an idea and the hope to developing it. We come with a product that is sold and the hope of selling it more.

To get there, 800 partners are part of the network. They are expert partners but also large groups, SME, mid-size companies, that all work on transformation subjects. We are an accelerator for all companies, not only for startups. At Laval, I am helping 12 startups and 8 partners.

You are the mayor of the Laval village. In your approach, we feel a strong territorial attachment. Is it a real marker for your structure?

The goal of a village is to create links, federate people around common topics and see how we can create value. For example, a partner from the village of Lyon can meet a startup from Laval at the village of Lyon. Startups from Laval can meet clients in the Paris village and startups from the network come to Laval to meet Luminess, a local company. The objective of a village is mainly to connect clients and experts or business angels for fundraising.

How do you, as a startup, get into a village?

Startups are here for two years, renewable once for a year, so three years in total. To get into a village, you must be a young company (between 2 and 5 years old) and already have clients and business attraction. There is a selection committee with the co founders: Crédit Agricole Anjou Maine, Laval Mayenne Technopole and Laval Économie, as well as partners that are local companies. The startups have 7 minutes to pitch and 7 more to answer questions.

Laval is often called the “capital of virtual reality”. Is this visible in the companies supported by the Village by CA?

Yes, the Laval village is the network reference in terms of immersive realities. Among the startups, there are Massive Immersive, Komodal, Olfy, Inod, Bliss, Agogy and Imagin VR.

Many of them had a beautiful success story. I am thinking of Inod, which performs well. They had a lot of success with their virtual fair project for Crédit Agricole during the pandemic. But they are doing a lot more, they are very diversified. They are capable of meeting all types of demands according to the current context.

Is it important today to be a partner and to take part in an event about immersive technologies like Laval Virtual?

We are in a territory that invests in innovative topics. The breeding ground for virtual reality in France is in Laval. We have to be there. It’s the biggest event about innovation in the region. What I like at Laval Virtual is that it’s full of demos. It’s concret! The business side is also very interesting. Of course, it’s impactful for the startups I support. They are going with the hope of generating leads. As a structure that creates links, it is my responsibility to give them an exhibition space at Laval Virtual. My work is to be a business facilitator. As a mayor of the village, I make start-ups grow by relying on the local and national ecosystem.

How do we become mayor of a village? What is your daily role?

We are not born a village mayor. It’s not a vocation. Before, I did financial analysis in the innovation part in the bank sector. When the position of mayor of the village was available, I jumped on it. The common trait between those jobs is the sense of service. You cannot be a good advisor if you don’t like people. It’s the same thing for the position of mayor of the village. You cannot be a good mayor if you are not empathic. Everyday, I help 12 companies: their difficulties are mine and I share their successes with them.

What I like in the universe of innovation is to constantly juggling with uncertainty. They are young companies, with little or no experience, that target an immature or changing market, with new products. There is nothing more uncertain than this! Every startup is a challenge because we never have the same demand twice. It’s always challenging. The role of the mayor is to be a bridge between two worlds that hardly speak to each other: innovation and entrepreneurship.

About author

Freelance Web Copywriter. Words juggler and keywords hunter. I help entrepreneurs, start-ups, organizations and SMEs to unveil and shine.
Get the best of our blog and news from Laval Virtual every month!

Worth reading...
ReVolution competitions: VR/AR innovations in the spotlight