Even closer to home, we went to visit EuraTechnologies in Lille, just one hour from Paris. There we met EuraTechnologie’s CEO, Raouti Chehih, and Jérôme Fauquembergue, COO.”/>

EuraTechnologies: a huge place, a soul, and a true source of inspiration for Le Camping

Published on the 22 avril 2014 by Verity Baynton

At Le Camping, we like to go and meet people who do the same thing as us, but elsewhere. Above all, we are always looking for inspiration. That is why we recently went to Lisbon to visit Beta-I, one of our European partners.

Even closer to home, we went to visit EuraTechnologies in Lille, just one hour from Paris. There we met EuraTechnologie’s CEO, Raouti Chehih, and Jérôme Fauquembergue, COO.

EuraTechnologies: a huge place, a soul, and a true source of inspiration for Le Camping

At Le Camping, we like to go and meet people who do the same thing as us, but elsewhere. Above all, we are always looking for inspiration. That is why we recently went to Lisbon to visit Beta-I, one of our European partners.

Even closer to home, we went to visit EuraTechnologies in Lille, just one hour from Paris. There we met EuraTechnologie’s CEO, Raouti Chehih, and Jérôme Fauquembergue, COO.


First finding: all the ingredients are in place to allow France to operate its digital revolution, both in Paris and in the rest of France. The players of the French digital ecosystem are strong in number, as well as in their variety of approaches and styles.

 

EuraTechnologies is an impressive 150 000m2 park – a true ‘digital city’ 

Jointly managed by ‘Lille Métropole Communauté Urbaine’, the Nord Pas de Calais region and the Town of Lille, EuraTechnologies is an impressive 150 000m2 park just next to the centre of Lille – a true ‘digital city’ known in 96 countries. 

At the same time, it is a startup accelerator and incubator, innovation lab, full-service digital studio, and a mentoring and training centre. The site’s size and future promises are impressive: a building dedicated to e-commerce, accommodation reserved for the in-house staff, and eventually a riverbank marina with Wi-fi access…

EuraTechnologies certainly fulfills Raouti’s definition of acceleration: “accelerating the access to the market”.

 

“How were we born? In the face of the greatest adversity"

 

A true source of inspiration for Le Camping: the place is enormous and, above all, it has a “soul”. Without a doubt, this comes from the personality of its Director General, Raouti Chehih, who had been fighting for this project since 2002. It was Pierre de Saintignon, an elected representative in Lille who initiated the project. “How were we born? In the face of the greatest adversity,” Raouti tells us. “The ambition was to transform some old textile factories into a digital economy hotspot and an employment area.”

After having experimented with an association format for a long time, EuraTechnologies moved up to the next step by becoming a private company in 2011 with a capital and a board.
 

“The project was born in the face of adversity”, Raouti explains, “and from a political will”. After the internet bubble, the stakes were tough: transforming some old hundred year-old textile factories, who had seen their last workers dismissed in 1989, into a digital hotspot, facilitating the transition of sectors and turning the Northern capital towards the future.

10 years later, we cannot help but notice that this has worked.

“Almost all of our companies are still alive and many of them generate large revenues – but that isn’t enough yet. We have seen a lot of things evolve over the last two years: project leaders are less restrained; they’re opening up more easily. We have to keep moving forward.”

 

The demand is there, acting like an engine

And in addition there is the love of work well done and with meticulous attention. Walking around the central building of EuraTechnologies, Raouti shakes everyone’s hand. He really knows the residents – all 2200 of them.

We come across startups from Lille, but also startups from Lebanon and Barcelona. Indeed, EuraTechnologies has launched an intensive training programme with the University of Stanford to drill in the famous “Think Big” to entrepreneurs from day one.

What is the next step? A Jazz Café perched in a tower, which will bring together the numerous residents of the park, and the transformation of some buildings into a kind of 21st Century university where you will find on-demand and self-taught modules and training, according to your needs.

In short, it’s a beautiful story – and one to follow.

 
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