Strengthening the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Lille, France

Strengthening the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Lille, France

Lille, France sits on the northern tip of France, near the border with Belgium. It is both a city and a region with an economy that has relied on manufacturing, retail, and more recently finance. It is home to Euratechnologies, an IT incubator established to attract and encourage high tech innovation and entrepreneurship in the region.

Euratechnologies is an experienced French enabler of digital transformation. Yet they realized they needed help in a key area of economic incubation: entrepreneurship education. Recognizing Stanford’s expertise in this field, among many, they reached out to the Stanford Center for Professional Development. The goal? To create a custom education program for French entrepreneurs that would draw upon Stanford’s world-class research and teaching while contextualizing the learning to the Lille economy and culture.

SCPD, with its decades-long history of delivering extended education to companies and other organizations, worked with regional leaders in Lille to design and implement the program, navigating local politics, cultural and language differences, and regional particulars.

The result was a customized, highly-engaged learning program for both aspiring and experienced entrepreneurs consisting of two interconnected one-week programs — a week at Stanford and a week in Lille, with a month of online learning sandwiched in between. Participants learned best practices in the areas of innovation, venture stage opportunity, and execution focus. They attended workshops and coaching and created a community of peers. At the end of the program each team was expected to deliver a pitch to a group of judges including French venture capitalists and Stanford faculty.

As interest in the program grew, particularly from more established companies in the region, a corporate track was added, mixing start-up entrepreneurs with more experienced corporate managers.

In collaborating with SCPD, Euratechnologies has strengthened its reputation as the place to be for high tech start-ups. As a result, a stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region was established, bringing in increased revenue and job opportunities. In addition, the program fostered relationships between program participants, program graduates, and industry participants, who form a lasting community in support of economic development in the region.

The opportunity to connect SCPD’s extensive experience delivering online, on-site, and in-person education programs to a regional audience of entrepreneurs and executives is a model that can be replicated worldwide. Contact the SCPD programs team at scpd-information@stanford.edu to get started.