Startup incubators in Nantes : From ideas to new businesses

Ever since it was given the ‘Nantes Tech’ label in 2014, the Nantes Saint-Nazaire area has been home to many innovative start-ups and projects, buoyed by an increasing number of support schemes and organisations.

Business incubators in Nantes generally take the form of organisations, sometimes schemes, helping the founders of promising young firms and those putting forward high-potential projects. They are involved in companies’ initial phases of development, offering various integrated services to give rise to projects, turning ideas into business plans and proposals into new start-ups.

Their support and mentoring services include the following:
•    Premises (office, co-working space and so forth)
•    Consultancy in business creation with advice from specialists (jurists, tax experts and suchlike)
•    Training
•    Special access to research laboratories
•    Bridge-building for work alongside industrial, commercial and financial partners
•    Advertising via communications and social media
Whether segment-specific or in all market sectors, start-up incubators in Nantes are driven by both public and private stakeholders, and some are part of institutes in higher education:

•    Atlanpole: As the leading science and technology park of the Nantes Saint-Nazaire area, Atlanpole is the Pays de la Loire region’s major start-up incubator for innovative projects in biotechnology, health, information and communications technology, electronics, computing, ecology, energy, materials, shipbuilding and mechanics. Atlanpole supports the creation and development of firms and helps put together collaborative, innovative projects.

•    NMcube: Specialising in the field of media, this incubation programme for business-creation and diversification projects lasts three years and offers a training course in media and digital technology, bridge-building with potential partners and the possibility of premises. NMcube was founded jointly by two clusters—Ouest Médialab and Creative Factory—and by two Nantes-based institutes in higher education: Audencia Sciencescom and Polytech.

•    1Kubator Nantes: The local branch of France’s first network of business incubators specialising in digital technology, 1Kubator Nantes offers a ten-month support programme, from the launch of a start-up to sales of its distinct product or service, plus help with funding in exchange for a stake in the new firm’s capital.

•    Imagination Machine: An incubator for start-ups in technological solutions with considerable impact in terms of society or the environment, Imagination Machine was launched by the successful American entrepreneur Rob Spiro. It supports start-ups in its offices at La Cantine Nantes, in exchange for a stake in their capital.

•    NovaPuls: An incubator launched by Sodero Gestion (Caisse d’épargne Bretagne Pays de la Loire), NovaPuls supports those putting forward innovative projects in all sectors and helps raise funds for them within two years, in exchange for a stake in their capital.

•    La Ruche: In Saint-Nazaire, the incubator La Ruche supports projects put forward by female entrepreneurs, especially those with a considerable impact in terms of society and the environment. It offers two programmes: "Les Audacieuses" for emerging projects and "Les Ambitieuses" for accelerating start-ups.


In Nantes, these centres support innovative projects developed in higher-education schools, providing accommodation and contribution to their funding:

•    The Centrale-Audencia-Ensa Business Incubator, present on the campuses of three institutes forming an alliance: École Centrale Nantes, Audencia Business School and ENSA Nantes.

•   The IMT Atlantique Incubator


Accelerators work to help promising new businesses grow more quickly, with incubators sometimes handing over fresh start-ups to them. Their programmes offer services and resources with high added-value to support development, tap new markets and attract investors to encourage the start-up’s growth.

Acceleration schemes and programmes in Nantes include training and personal coaching, help in recruitment, sharing of cutting-edge technology and machines, assistance in sales, and internationalisation.

•   Creative Factory Selection is a support scheme for accelerating and structuring firms or projects in cultural and creative sectors. The programme includes nine months of personalised coaching and collective support.

•    Startup Palace: A 1,000m2 site of innovation at the heart of Nantes, dedicated to entrepreneurship and providing premises for start-ups, Startup Palace runs bespoke programmes for accelerating new firms’ growth (training and coaching).

•    Creative Care Factory: A scheme for providing premises and support for the development of start-ups in the field of health, well-being and better living, supported by the teams of Harmonie Mutuelle.

•    ADN’Booster: A regional organisation offering bespoke acceleration schemes for start-ups and digital projects in the regions of Pays de la Loire and Brittany.

•    Le Village by CA Atlantique Vendée: A place for encounters, bridge-building and support for local start-ups, organised by partners of the regional bank Crédit Agricole Atlantique Vendée.

•    Axandus: Located on the site of the firm Sercel in Nantes, this industrial accelerator supports innovative start-ups in mechatronics and internet-connected objects in the fields of transport, smart cities, carmaking, ecology, health and infrastructure monitoring.


These also offer support schemes for company founders and those putting forward projects, providing them with premises in their business centre:
•    La Cantine Nantes: A coworking space, a bridge-builder and a business accelerator for digital and web-based innovators, La Cantine Nantes offers several support programmes that correspond to the different development phases of new firms.

•    Hub Créatic, dedicated to start-ups in digital technology