In Angers, the Connected Objects City helps project owners to take an idea for a connected object and manufacture it into thousands of products. It’s a particularly efficient industrial accelerator, which already boasts many successes. Find out more from the director Philippe Ménard.
How was the Connected Objects City created?
Philippe Ménard : The Government launched “34 plans for a new industrial France” in 2013 to encourage private initiatives around promising themes such as the Internet of Things (IoT). The idea of creating an industrial accelerator dedicated to connected objects then emerged. We’ve established a roadmap and identified 18 investors. We’ve been able to complete the business plan thanks to funding and grants from the State and Pays de Loire region.
“The Connected Objects City can support an idea from the initial idea to the production of 10,000 items.”
What is its role?
P. M. : First of all it acts like an incubator to support a project upstream. It works like a Fab Lab that enables people to design a model or prototype. And it includes a third more unique component: a circuit board production line that can move from the prototype to a certified industrial product that’s ready to be marketed.
Who’ll benefit from the Connected Object City’s services?
P. M. : Obviously start-ups. But also small and medium-sized companies who ask us to “connect” the objects they manufacture. They can choose between two approaches according to their maturity and internal skills. Either they can choose an autonomous mode to access the City’s resources through a monthly subscription or a supported mode, which offers them different “packs” according to the different stages of the project.
“Depending on the project’s progress, companies spend between one month and one year with us.”
Orange is one of the City’s partners. What does this involvement mean?
P. M. : Orange is one of the 18 founding partners who, since 2014, has believed in the project and continued to look after us! Orange promotes us through the various events organised by the Group and gives punctual support to offer advice or a technical solution.
Over the last two and a half years, has the Connected Objects City seen some projects come to fruition?
P. M. : We can share many great success stories. We’ve supported more than 150 of the 300 projects we’ve seen so far. One example is Hector (opens in a new window), the connected weather station which was created here in the City. With 10,000 units, it’s now sold in many stores from Truffaut to Nature et Découvertes, and of course Orange shops (opens in a new window).
Connected Objects City in key figures
- 1.5 million Euros invested in hardware for design and test equipment as well as the production line,
- a team of 12 engineers, permanent employees,
- 1 network of companies specialised in electronics, mechanics, legal, financing etc. who work as needed with project owners,
- 200 to 250 people visiting the City premises each week.