Yves Delnatte, French Tech: “Montréal is the gateway to America”

Incorporating your business in Montreal is good. Being accompanied is better. French Tech’s Montreal office, Bleu Blanc Tech, offers support to French startups and companies looking to establish themselves in Quebec.

Since 2015, Bleu Blanc Tech, the French Tech of Montreal, has played a key role in supporting startups and other companies looking to establish themselves in Quebec and Canada more generally. Severely handicapped by the Covid-19 pandemic, she has recently been able to resume her activities in person rather than in a dematerialized version. To tell us about it, we were able to speak to its director, Yves Delnatte.

How long have you been in Montreal?

Why did you decide to set up a French tech network there? After the creation of French Tech throughout France on the initiative of the Minister of Culture, Fleur Pellerin, in 2013, a Montreal branch was established in 2015. Because Quebec is French speaking, we couldn’t call ourselves French Tech. We have therefore chosen Bleu Blanc Tech, the French Tech from Montreal. This is how we were identified as the French tech community that can bring together all the players of the French tech ecosystem in Montreal. In Quebec, the two most advanced cities are Montreal for the startup part and Quebec for the administrative part. On the English side, we also talk a lot about Toronto, where other startups are more advanced and closer to the United States. Coming to Montreal is a great stepping stone if you are a tech company, especially given its bilingualism and proximity to American soil.

The aim of Bleu Blanc Tech can be summed up in 3 verbs: unite, speed up, radiate

What are the opportunities for entrepreneurship in this city?

The possibilities are enormous. This makes it possible to test a different way of thinking than in Europe or to test American soil in relation to products or services. It is not for nothing that there are many tax incentives to support start-ups in their development, especially in video games, services and artificial intelligence. Montreal aims to become the artificial intelligence capital of North America. The aim of Bleu Blanc Tech can be summed up in 3 verbs: unite, speed up, radiate. Bring all stakeholders together to see how they can support each other; Acceleration, faster exchange of information thanks to its network in almost 100 cities around the world; Promotion of all ecosystems that exist in France and abroad to connect all these “nodes”. This is always French Tech’s mission, regardless of the country.

We were the first in North America, then French Tech Toronto came together two years ago. I myself have accepted a mandate as the new President of French Tech, following Christophe Villemer, who founded it in 2015. Unfortunately, I took office at the time of the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic and many events have been cancelled. From now on we can postpone major events. It is important because we are the first French speaking and French metropolis in the Americas, 150,000 French people live here. We are the gateway to America and an economic and cultural haven for French expatriates.

What services do you offer?

First of all, we offer many business missions to companies looking to establish themselves in Canada. We connect them to all ecosystems that revolve around and attract French Tech. There are many ties, particularly with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which has a strong presence in Montreal. We know very well who to refer them to so they can take their first steps. We are real intermediaries, we do a lot of networking, like all French techs. The only difference is that here we are all volunteers, we all have a society where we are active in a large group. All these people make time weekly to work on topics, projects and events.

We have 1,500 partner companies, and around 500 start-ups are added every year

How many members does the Montreal network have?

To join Bleu Blanc Tech, simply subscribe to the newsletter. This makes it possible to be part of the 3500 members who follow the French Tech of Montreal. We have 1,500 partner companies, and around 500 start-ups are added every year. Currently, as soon as we communicate, we reach about 5,000 people.

What are the characteristics of the startup ecosystem in Montreal and Canada in general?

The ecosystem of startups in Montreal brings together different tech areas such as artificial intelligence, fintech, services or even video games. In particular, there are very significant tax credit incentives. Startups come to either develop commercially or develop their software in R&D. What makes them special is that they either have a representative coming to set up the company or they are headquartered in France and are coming to have their first adventure in America via Montreal.

We provide them with mentors, people who can support them, we organize events where start-ups can work together and we allow them to meet large groups. In this way, we regularly work with the CCI (Chamber of Commerce and Industry, ed.) but also with public actors in Quebec. We have access to several key people to connect Quebec to France and France to Quebec.

Leave a Comment