Xavier Niel: Station F, World’s Biggest Incubator

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12/16/2016 | 05:02 pm
Located in Paris district XIII and funded by Xavier Niel for 250 million euros, the incubator will open its doors in April 2017. Due to the history of the building, which used to be a train station – Gare ferroviaire in French -, and in reference to France, the place has been named Station F.
Station F - Xavier Niel

With its 366,000ft2 or the equivalent of the size of the Eiffel Tower lying down, it will be the biggest incubator worldwide and host 1000 startups. The team behind the project intends to bring in 50% of foreign startups. Paris, currently ranked as the 2nd or 3rd most attractive city for startups, might ambition to take the 1st place from London with this audacious project.

Roxanne Verza, in charge of the project, explained that they pivoted from the basic incubator toward a complete startups ecosystem. The goal is to create a new concept inspired by Americans’ campus. Similar concepts already exist, such as Draper University, ecosystem created by a well-known venture capitalist, Tim Draper, in San Mateo, California. With an entrepreneurship program, an incubator, an open space, investors on site and other resources, entrepreneurs have all they need to work proficiently. Established in a building that used to be a hotel, entrepreneurs have the opportunity to live on site. 

Draper University
Station F’s ecosystem will be implemented in three steps. The co-working space, with its 3.000 desks, will open in April 2017. The space will also host several investment funds such as Kima Ventures (Xavier Niel’s Fund), Daphni and Ventech, as well as partners programs including HEC Paris’ incubator (a french university) and Vente Privée’s accelerator (French e-business platform). With 170 desks on 7500ft2, HEC Paris intends to integrate 60 startups founded by its students, with half of them founded by international students. Vente privée will have 80 desks to help twenty early stage startups in the fashion, tech, and retail sectors looking to develop tools and services of tomorrow’s fashion and e-business. Verza said during the London’s TechCrunch disrupt earlier this month that Facebook will also have offices there, and will be working on a special project. The company said in a press release they would get into details about the project in 2017. Several other partners programs are expected to be announced prior to the campus opening. Station F will also have its own auditorium with a capacity of 360 people, a fab lab with 3D printers and lasers to build up MVPs and prototypes, events’ spaces, showers, a post office, among other services.

Station F - Xavier Niel
The second step will be launched soon after with the opening of a restaurant with 4 kitchens, 1 bar and 1 coffee, all accessible to the public and open 24/7.
The third and last step, a housing project, won’t be ready until 2018. One hundred apartments will be available for entrepreneurs with a capacity of 600 people. Buildings will have their own gym and will be located 10 minutes away from Station F.
Entrepreneurs from all over the world are already invited to send their application to be part of this ecosystem and have until February the 5th 2017 to do so. For the selection, startups will be evaluated by experimented entrepreneurs, whom will also follow those startups during their development at Station F.


At the TechCrunch event, Mike Turner, a TechCrunch journalist, who interviewed Roxanne Varza, described what he believes France reputation in business is: “35 hours work per week, you can never fire anybody, if you do they will sue you, you’re always going on strike”.

Station F might become the ecosystem France needs in order to become the European Tech Hub, and possibly improve international beliefs about France business policies and reputation.
Maxime Borreda
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