The biggest French startups in 2024 according to the French government

France's French Tech 120 in 2024 focuses on revenue over fundraising, highlighting AI and green tech trends.

: In 2024, the French government highlighted the French Tech 120, a selection of startups focusing on revenue metrics rather than fundraising, moving away from previous unicorn-centric evaluations. Notable sectors include deep tech, AI, and green tech, reflecting substantial investments and a shift towards sustainability and innovation. The program aims to offer international exposure and domestic growth opportunities, with no direct funding but reduced bureaucratic hindrances.

The French Tech 120 program, established in 2019, has evolved significantly by 2024, selecting startups based more heavily on revenue metrics than previous fundraising achievements. This shift comes as a response to past disappointments labeled as 'ZIRPicorns,' startups that initially seemed promising based on their fundraising capabilities but failed to deliver significant value. In its fifth iteration, announced during VivaTech week by Marina Ferrari, France's secretary of state for Digital Affairs, the program highlighted 120 promising startups, featuring areas like deep tech and AI, and emphasized a growing trend in green technologies. The selected startups, including 28 unicorns, collectively boasted a net revenue of €10 billion in 2023, up from €7.5 billion the previous year.

Despite the challenging economic backdrop with reduced total investments in French startups from €13.49 billion in 2022 to €8.32 billion, sectors like green tech received a substantial €2.7 billion, reflecting both market trends and program preferences. Among the notable startups included were Mistral AI, which is experiencing rapid valuation growth; Ekwateur, a renewable energy provider; and ChapsVision, a B2B company focused on sovereign data processing. These companies underscore France's commitment to fostering high-potential tech enterprises that align with global technological advancements and sustainability goals.

The program's perks mainly involve reduced bureaucratic barriers rather than direct financial support, aiming to foster a more conducive business environment for high-potential tech firms. This approach aligns with broader strategies under initiatives like 'Je Choisis la French Tech', which encourages public bodies and large corporations to engage with French startups, potentially increasing local procurement and supporting domestic scale-ups. Thus, while supporting these startups in gaining international traction, the French Tech 120/Next40 initiative also gears them toward significant roles in domestic markets, reflecting a pragmatic shift toward revenue-oriented success and sustainability in the tech sector.