The holding company of Saatchi & Saatchi and Starcom launched a competition to find 90 start-ups or scale-ups as part of its celebration of its 90th anniversary. The group whittled down the final list from 3,500 applications.
Unsurprisingly for a country that has given us Google and Facebook, the US generated the largest proportion of the companies on the list at 23% of the total, followed by 18% from France (where Publicis Groupe is based), 14% from the UK, 7% from Germany, 6% from Israel and 3% from India.
The three biggest winners were: Emerald Medical Applications, which uses image recognition technology for quicker detection of skin cancer; Recat.Ai, a start-up founded by graduates of the French coding school 42 that helps developers creating messaging bots; and Wiseye, an Israeli company looking to bring the Internet of Things to retail.
The search – which began in January with a shortlist announced in April – was partly motivated by a desire to encourage the French tech industry, which is perceived as lagging behind other countries. The same aspiration was behind the setting up of 42 by Xavier Niel, the French telecoms billionare.
Of the final 90, people already working for Publicis Groupe submitted 25 of the ideas. Their concepts will be developed over the next six months to determine whether the idea is worth incubating. If successful, the Publicis employees will retain a "substantial portion" of the share capital of the new company.
Maurice Lévy, chairman and chief executive of Publicis Groupe, said: "Rather than celebrating the past, we wanted to celebrate Publicis’ 90th anniversary in a manner consistent with the Groupe’s DNA, by looking to the future. And so, we will be funding and supporting entrepreneurial projects led by people inside and outside of the group.
"I have been highly impressed by the quality of the projects which exceeded my hopes and expectations by far, thus demonstrating how vibrant the sector is, how energetic and entrepreneurial young people continue to be, and what huge potential there is in this sector. I would like to thank all the participants for this lesson in optimism."
Publicis Groupe, in partnership with Groupe Les Echos, invited the founders of the 90 businesses to a three-day conference called Viva Technology Paris, which kicked off yesterday. They will receive between €10,000 and €500,000 and be assigned a Publicis Groupe executive to support them.