Telecommunication giant Orange unveiled its plan for its startup accelerator named Orange Fab. In addition to announcing that the program is now taking applications for French startups, the company said that it just opened another branch of its accelerator in Japan, and will open another one in Poland in the first half of 2014.
Back in March, Orange Fab first launched its accelerator program in Silicon Valley. Focused on startups that take advantage of Orange’s expertise in the telecommunication industry, the accelerator works with mentors from the local tech scene and helps when it comes to advice, funding and infrastructure needs.
Mobile startups should have a hedge against other applicants as the LTE network is just starting in France — Orange probably wants to help bandwidth-intensive startups go the next level. French entrepreneurs can apply until the end of December and the first batch of four to six startups will join the program in February 2013.
Orange business developers, engineers and designers will handle day-to-day activities, and top executives from Orange and other big French companies will occasionally come and talk to the entrepreneurs.
One of the major risks of Orange Fab in France is that most of the feedback could come from important CAC40 executives. Their work environment is very different from the startup world. It will be hard for them to understand an entrepreneur’s challenges and struggles. The company says that French entrepreneurs and tech experts will come and talk as well. But it should be the main focus of Orange Fab, it shouldn’t come after CAC40 executives.
At the end of the three-month program, Orange Fab will hold a demo day in Paris in front of investors and press members. After that, the startups will spend two weeks in Silicon Valley and have a second demo day there in May. Orange Fab will compete with Microsoft Spark and independent accelerators in France.
Depending on how committed Orange is about the initiative, Orange Fab could be an interesting opportunity for French entrepreneurs. Information is sparse — for example, there is no word on seed funding and the company didn’t name any mentor yet.
It’s still too early to say whether Orange Fab will marginally support these startups or turn into an essential partner and change the lives of these startups. It’s a good-looking accelerator, but we don’t know how good it is yet. For now, we can only appreciate the new program and encourage more initiatives like that to help the French startup ecosystem.
(Image credit: LeWeb)