Digital Grenoble : « Totem French tech, open ! »

sep article

DECRYPTION – Digital Grenoble, one of the fourteen French Tech cities, has inaugurated its « Totem », this Wednesday, 23rd September, 2015. A building that embodies the new dynamic digital Grenoble, supposedly to propel international start-ups, boost employment and disseminate the use of digital technology in depth. Guided tour with the key players.





Lobby of the Grenoble Digital Totem. © Séverine Cattiaux –

Digital Grenoble has ins­tal­led its pre­mises, aka « the Totem », in the Orange Group buil­ding, at 16 Boulevard Maréchal Lyautey, oppo­site the Pathé Chavant cinema.


Digital Grenoble ? Yes, think back to October 2014, when the French Tech label was awar­ded to the Grenoble region by the State. Once label­led, the « Metropolis French Tech » had indeed com­mit­ted to fin­ding a « Totem » buil­ding.


It has been inau­gu­ra­ted on Wednesday 23rd September at 6:30pm, nearly a year after the label­ling.



Why this geo­gra­phi­cal choice ? « The cen­tral loca­tion of the Orange buil­ding was pre­fe­rable to the Bouchayer-Viallet neigh­bo­rhood or Europole », says Loris Nicolas, res­pon­sible for ope­ra­tio­nal coor­di­na­tion of Digital Grenoble. The fact that Orange is a very accom­mo­da­ting owner (see “La Métropole veut pas­ser la main” at bot­tom of page) pro­ba­bly also wei­ghed in the balance.




A highly anticipated opening



The ope­ning of the Totem was thus, long awai­ted. « We had plan­ned to open in January, but the work was not fini­shed. Finally, it was done on 26th August, which did not help the visi­bi­lity of Digital Grenoble », reco­gnizes Jean-Pierre Verjus, pre­sident of the Grenoble label. Despite this delay, howe­ver, Digital Grenoble has impre­gna­ted consciences. « All of the Grenoble players now speak 100% digi­tal ! »



Jean-Pierre Verjus, pre­sident of Digital Grenoble. © Nils Louna

The Totem now offers the pos­si­bi­lity to give in depth sub­stance to this com­mon drive towards a digi­tal trans­for­ma­tion : cham­ber of com­merce and indus­try, incu­ba­tors, nur­se­ries, Inovallée, Minalogic… How ? Through two essen­tial func­tions, accor­ding to Jean-Pierre Verjus.


Firstly : « The Totem is the entry point for young entre­pre­neurs, who have ideas, but lit­tle money, where they can grow and flou­rish. » Secondly : « The Totem will be place of refer­ral, in a digi­tal eco­sys­tem that is a hot­bed of players – clus­ters, com­pe­ti­ti­vity poles, asso­cia­tions, incu­ba­tors… – for start-ups that need advice in mar­ke­ting, recruit­ment, the mar­ket, access to tech­no­logy, to go inter­na­tio­nal…”




Cowork, the Totem animator



Activity at the Totem is cur­rently focu­sed on the ground floor, in 690 m², of the Orange buil­ding. « To the right of the entrance is a convi­vial space for events », explains Loris Nicolas, res­pon­sible for ope­ra­tio­nal coor­di­na­tion of Digital Grenoble. We then enter the co-wor­king space, which leads to a cosy living room.



Mathieu Genty super­vises the ani­ma­tions at the Digital Grenoble Totem. © Nils Louna

The enter­prise Cowork in Grenoble made its mark in early September, taking with it, “its” co-wor­kers. Digital Grenoble has effec­ti­vely dele­ga­ted the ani­ma­tion and mana­ge­ment of the entire Totem.


« Cowork manages the logis­tics, the com­pu­ter net­work, mee­ting rooms, recep­tion of free­lan­cers, works­pace ren­tal and Digital Grenoble offices, as well as orga­ni­zing events », confirms Mathieu Genty, to head of Cowork in Grenoble and now the Totem.




In the co-wor­king space, a door opens into the Digital Grenoble area, where a cor­ri­dor leads to seven offices, almost all occu­pied. Clust’R numé­rique, Minalogic, who manages the French Tech pass* and The Digital Company, an acce­le­ra­tor for start-ups**, are ins­tal­led here, as well as other start-ups…



The Digital Grenoble Totem co-wor­king space. © Nils Louna


« Digital Grenoble tenants pay 200 euros/m² in rent, all inclu­sive, per year… This is a consistent price, at the high end of the mar­ket, of course, but logi­cal, given the bene­fits. The idea is not to make a pro­fit on it », assures Loris Nicolas.




Invent new services



« Totem does not intend to play the role of incu­ba­tor », said the coor­di­na­tor. « It does not com­pete with other exis­ting ser­vices. » The start-ups that will be hos­ted on the pre­mises of Digital Grenoble should, the­re­fore, contri­bute to « inven­ting a range of ser­vices that we do not yet find in the digi­tal eco­sys­tem, » accor­ding to Jean-Pierre Verjus.



Loris Nicolas, res­pon­sible for ope­ra­tio­nal coor­di­na­tion of Digital Grenoble, and Marie Poulle, in charge of recep­tion at Cowork. © Séverine Cattiaux –

For the moment, three start-ups have moved into the Digital Grenoble part of the Totem. E‑Malaya spe­cia­lizes in digi­tal mar­ke­ting, while BoardCluster deve­lops a pro­duct « that would be inter­es­ting for Digital Grenoble. »


A third start-up (yet unna­med) is wor­king on the crea­tion of an inter­me­dia­tion plat­form, bet­ween the needs and skills offe­red in the digi­tal domain.


Finally, ano­ther com­pany has offe­red Digital Grenoble a new ser­vice in « digi­tal sup­port for conven­tio­nal com­pa­nies, in cus­to­mer rela­tions. »




Antidote to “French bashing”



« French Tech has gene­ra­ted a lot of ideas for new ser­vices from busi­nesses, to help others to grow in the digi­tal world », rejoice the dri­ving force behind Digital Grenoble. Loris Nicolas is per­sua­ded that : « French Tech, Digital Grenoble and the Totem could be anti­dotes to « French bashing », whose fol­lo­wers are the French them­selves. »


If it does occur, take-off in the digi­tal sec­tor, should mainly result in job crea­tion. Come back and visit the Totem’s 930 m² on the second floor, in a few weeks… if you’re not convin­ced !



Séverine Cattiaux




*The French Tech pass offers “pre­mium” ser­vices to start-ups that meet cer­tain cri­te­ria of hyper-growth, such as sho­wing a 100% growth over three years ; cri­te­ria some­times consi­de­red too harsh by some digi­tal players…


**Start-up acce­le­ra­tors may file claims for fun­ding from French Tech’s 200 mil­lion euros. But, the cri­te­ria are, again, appa­rently very selec­tive. Today, only two acce­le­ra­tors in France have thus recei­ved aid.




From Digital Grenoble to “French tech in the Alps”


Digital Grenoble French tech is on the way Barbecue numérique au Jardin de ville de Grenoble le 20 juin 2014 startup. © Paul Turenne -

Digital Grenoble au Jardin de ville de Grenoble, le 20 juin 2014. © Paul Turenne –

As of today, ten mem­bers, the Digital Grenoble Association will soon be trans­for­med into a coope­ra­tive society of col­lec­tive inter­est (Scic), which will both have a capi­tal, and sell ser­vices. « We will fly on our own and will rely less on com­mu­ni­ties, » says Jean-Pierre Verjus.


The means to poten­tially allow 650 indi­vi­duals and 300 com­pa­nies, who have already given their sup­port to Digital Grenoble’s approach, as well as any new­co­mer, to have their « share ». Other com­mu­ni­ties will also still be able to par­ti­ci­pate.


The Grenoble Metropole should also pro­vide 125,000 euros in capi­tal, for the Scic. The Voironnais and Grésivaudan regions, and the urban com­mu­nity of Annecy (read­jus­ted to the label), are inter­es­ted. Perhaps Valencia… Savoie Business Angels, near Chambéry, have also shown an inter­est. Hence the idea that led to « French tech in the Alps », a name that could be for­ma­li­zed with the rene­wal of the label « Digital Grenoble », which is already due, at the end of the year…



Traduction from Speak English Center

Phone : +33 4 76 50 39 79

1 ave­nue du Vercors, 38600 Fontaine FRANCE



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