“Nothing has changed, the significance of the project remains. I strongly believe in the potential of IOT Valley for the city and the region”Referred to exhibition In February 2021 Ludovic Lemoine. Sigfox, the company he co-founded in 2010, announced his replacement as CEO, but the leader has since retained chairmanship of IOT Valley.
This business combination It appeared in Labege, near Toulouse, around the head office of the much-publicized hard mass. In 2015, Sicoval (the conglomerate community in southeast Toulouse) purchased eight hectares of the former headquarters of Sanofi with its ambition to capitalize on the significant growth of Sigfox to attract hundreds of start-ups and create “Valley of Connected Things”.
Campus of 20,000 square meters on six floors
Very quickly, Sigfox and start-ups in the IOT Valley found themselves crammed into their 13,000-square-meter premises in Labège, especially as the ecosystem that brought together 700 employees in 2018 then showed great employment prospects. While Ludovic Le Moine originally hoped for a program occupying eight hectares of former Sanofi land, the communities finally opted for a more modest project, with one hectare of land surface.
The campus must be 20,000 square meters It accommodates 1,200 employees and one hundred startups in a six-storey building. Operating budget Then 42 million euros (including 8 million loans) are calculated. The Occitanie region allocates 15 million euros in it, as well as the Caisse des dépôts and the Caisse d’Épargne.
But a year after the departure of its symbolic leader, Sigfox faces a new blow with the January 26 announcement of its placement in receivership, after the company accumulated debts of more than 150 million euros at the end of 2020.
Reducing effect of Sigfox?
Will the difficulties of Sigfox force a downsizing of the project? Not according to Laurent Cherubin, mayor of Labige and responsible for economic development in Secoval: “lamThe ambition of the building will not be modest. The energy strength and build quality that the area carries are typical. It is the totem of innovation‘, he pleads.
Same story with Sylvie Verghese, IOT Valley General Manager. “The continuity of the Sigfox network will be guaranteed. Our only question is how many functions will be provided by the future buyer”, as you say. After PSE stopped 47 jobs (including 25 voluntary departures) In the fall of 2020, Sigfox now has 350 employees. “We hope that the effect of the recovery is It is scaling as much as possible but depending on how many people will be accommodated, there could be a reduction in the square meters that Sigfox is keeping on the new campus”, she adds. Despite this unknown, “The building will be filled without any worries”confirms Laurent Cherubin.
In any case, the future campus has already been built since the beginning of 2021. It is supposed to be completed in the first half of 2023 with entry into the building scheduled for the end of the year, which is the time to prepare the building.
The final organization of the future building will be recorded during the IOT Valley General Assembly in May. Currently, the ground floor is planned to host the IOT Valley acceleration program that accompanies less mature startups. The first and second floors will be dedicated to hosting 40 IOT Valley startups. The upper floors can be used to support local companies in their innovation process around industrial data. “We have requests from industry partners who would like to place their teams on a temporary basis, sometimes within the ecosystem, to benefit from IOT Valley’s expertise,” Sylvie Verges says. There are 20 major accounts already supporting the project, such as Total Energies, Spie group, SNCF, etc.
Industrial data related objects
In any case, the difficulties faced by Sigfox reinforce the shift the project has already begun towards industrial data. No more talk of “Silicon Valley of Connected Objects”, the future campus has been unofficially renamed “Data Valley”.
“The idea really is to be able to process the entire IOT value chain. In the beginning, we were in a very good position creating hardware to extract data. And the desire now is to be able to host the projects under mining, process that data and enhance it by positioning itself further. on machine learning and artificial intelligence,” developed Sylvie Verges.
Illustrating this diversity, IOT Valley has among its startups online sports betting operator France Paris that specializes in inspection drones. Of the 40 startups in the ecosystem, half a dozen IOT products and services rely on Sigfox technology. “When the startup was created, Sigfox was our only network. Since then, we’ve diversified, but Sigfox is still the main network for the things we sell”The captain testifies to one of them. However, the receivership of the company does not jeopardize its activity:“In the short term, Sigfox’s image is damaged and our customers may be concerned. It is up to us to reassure them because, on the contrary, we believe the future will be more stable with a new buyer like the big phone operator with profits in the tens of billions.”
The IOT Valley ensures that its ability to attract start-ups outside of Toulouse remains intact. “We recently welcomed a company from California and another Brazilian Attracting these startups because we have the expertise to manufacture object data,” Sylvie Verges concludes.