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Blazing trails: Continuum of services helps French incubator grow regional economy

by Linda Knopp

December 2007

The founders of the Montpellier Business and Innovation Centre weren’t content to follow the rest of the pack; they wanted to blaze their own trail. That’s why they set out to launch a technology incubator in Montpellier, France – a region that lacked a strong business and industrial base – 20 years ago.

“There was [hardly any] corporate culture here at all, and there were no major industrial partners to help us get started,” says Patricia Reeb, incubator director. “We had to innovate and focus on the vast potential hidden in universities and research labs, counting on a new generation of entrepreneurs at a time when start-up companies had not yet become fashionable.”

With its prime location in the Mediterranean region of France, its proximity to seven higher educational institutions, and the unwavering support of a local government organization, they did just that. Today, Montpellier BIC operates two incubation facilities: Cap-Alpha, which serves life science companies, and Cap-Omega, which assists ICT businesses. Both facilities have an occupancy rate of over 80 percent. Since 1987, the program has graduated nearly 400 businesses – more than 85 percent of which remain in business.

In recognition of these accomplishments, NBIA presented the Montpellier Business and Innovation Centre with the 2007 Randall M. Whaley Incubator of the Year award. Read on to learn more about the program that received NBIA’s highest honor during the 21st International Conference on Business Incubation in Seattle.

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Keywords: best practices, international incubation, international trade, seminars and training programs, soft landings

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