PRESS RELEASE – Paris Region launches the “AI Challenge Paris Region 2018”: the first international challenge dedicated to startups


Thursday 12 april, 2018

Today, after announcing it during the Las Vegas CES last January, Valérie Pécresse, the President of Paris Region, launched the one-million-euro competition “AI Challenge Paris
Region 2018”, the first international challenge dedicated to startups, in the presence of Alexandra Dublanche, vice-president in charge of economic development at the Paris Region, Christophe Gégout, deputy managing director of the Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), Jérôme Snollaerts, CEO of CapDecisif Management and administrator of the Paris Region Venture Fund, and all the project partners: Dassault Systèmes, Atos, EY and Empruntis.

This outstanding competition is intended both for Paris Region companies and all the startups wanting to take root in the Paris Region. Unprecedented in its endowment, it is in keeping with the Region’s new attractiveness strategy in support of Artificial Intelligence, and illustrates the global ambition of the Paris Region ecosystem in the sector, notably in the fields of mobility and 4.0 industries (infrastructures, applications, platforms).

This defining event for the startup ecosystem participates in an overall strategy to turn Ile-de-France into a “Startup Region”, and more specifically to make it the European capital of Artifical Intelligence. It supplements the very strong involvement of Paris Region in the Digihall project, which deals with the creation of an international pole of reference for digital technology and artificial intelligence at Paris-Saclay, or in the development of the Atos Quantum Computing R&D laboratory in Clayes-sous-Bois.

The competition is aimed at the startups being able to display a product (software or hardware) that is at the minimum in the pilot phase, or, ideally, that was already deployed at some clients’. The product should be the result of a recent innovation using Artificial Intelligence, and have potential industrial applications. The company should be less than five years old, plan to raise funds within 24 months, and have risen less than €500,000.

For the Region, the “AI Challenge Paris Region 2018” has three objectives:

– Position Ile-de-France on the world stage as a key territory in the field of AI, in order to show that the Region is open to international cooperation in the sector, and that it meets all the necessary requirements to achieve it.

– Develop and capitalize on a top-tier innovative regional ecosystem in terms of AI.

– Take part in the acceleration of the Ile-de-France economical players’ digital transition,
notably in the industry.

The one-million-euro endowment (€700,000 for the winner, and €150,000 for the 2nd and 3rd), granted in the form of a capital injection, will enable the Region to support the strategic and commercial development of 3 emerging players of AI in Ile-de-France, in the long run, through the “Paris Region Venture Fund” and the “Investment” branch of the Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission.

Applications should be submitted on the dedicated online platform “” as of April 12th, and before June 17th.

At the end of the application process, a jury of 15 partners and scientists presided by Bertrand Braunschweig, Director of the INRIA Paris-Saclay, will determine the 10 first winners on July 3rd, 2018.

These 10 companies shall benefit from a very intensive support during three months. The first two recipients are to be more specifically coached by Ernst & Young. The industrial sponsors of the event (Dassault Systèmes, Atos, Empruntis) will step in subsequently in order to provide expert advice to the applicants on very precise problems, notably on the technical aspects of their products. Foreign applicants will also receive advice on implementation issues from Paris Region Entreprises, the enforcer of the Paris Region attractiveness policy.

The third month of coaching will be an opportunity for the applicants to solicit, on their own initiative, the partners, mentors, and experts involved in the Challenge on issues they judge are strategic for the output of their product and the development of their company (technical expertise, recruitment, market…).

On top of the criteria taken into account for the selection of the 10 companies (business model, relevance in relation to the AI thematic, social progress brought about by the designed product…), the final laureates will also be rated for the progress they achieved over the mentoring period.

The names of the 3 final recipients will be disclosed during the regional conference on AI, early October, a federative event for Paris Region AI and its international outreach, under the co-presidency of Bertrand Braunschweig.

Valérie Pécresse declared: “As the leading Smart Region in Europe, rich with 1,300 research laboratories, 162,000 researchers, and close to 8,000 startups, we are proud to launch this competition in an environment conducive to innovation and Artificial Intelligence. It will allow us to speed up the development of the fledgling AI businesses in Ile-de-France, and to transform them into the champions of tomorrow’s digital world.”

For the record, a few key figures and dates about the Challenge:
Endowment: 1 million €
Schedule: Applications open April 12th and close June 17th; winners will be announced in October 2018.
Financial partners: the Paris Region Venture Fund governed by CapDecisif Management,
the Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission
Industrial partners: Atos, Dassault Systèmes, EY, Empruntis