Bourgogne-Franche-Comté: towards a Silicon Valley of the food industry?

It all started in Dijon… Encouraged by the dynamics of the FrenchTech label (launched in 2016 by Emmanuel Macron, then Minister of the Economy, Industry and Digital), Vitagora, which had been working since 2005 on the food of the future with startups, founded the La FoodTech network in order to bring out new nuggets.

Today, eight ecosystems are spread over the territory, and have set themselves the task of ” promote and support the emergence and development of innovative solutions from farm to fork, by connecting start-ups and other players in the sector. »

FoodTech Dijon Bourgogne-Franche-Comté had developed two strong initiatives: FoodUseTech, a recurring trade show that brought together startups and economic players in Dijon, and a Living Lab project, led by Dijon Métropole, the regional council and the Banque des Territoires. . ” When Pierre Guez, president of Vitagora was also appointed president of La FoodTech, he wanted to bring the two associations together. “, specifies Christophe Breuillet, director of Vitagora. ” It was necessary to give the means to this brand to develop and to have a synergy of interesting actions for the whole of our local and French ecosystem. “, he continues. This merger makes it possible to perpetuate the activities of the FoodTech and the Living Lab, in synergy with Vitagora’s Toaster Lab acceleration program, dedicated to the nuggets of agri-food, since 2017. Objective: to bring together national and international startups towards local players in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, in order to support them in a growth phase, while strengthening our local ecosystem.

Living Lab: a unique tool in Europe

With around a hundred startups, the ecosystem that brings together FoodTech Dijon Bourgogne-Franche-Comté and Vitagora was already successful in three areas: industry, research and innovation. “We were missing a string to our bow: the direct relationship with the consumer in the innovation process “, emphasizes Christophe Breuillet. This will soon be done with the Living Lab, located in the very heart of the Cité internationale de la gastronomie et du vin in Dijon, which opens its doors to the public on May 6.

Funded to the tune of 1 million euros over five years by Dijon Métropole, the Regional Council of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté and the Banque des Territoires, this innovative tool aims to ” to decompartmentalize innovation by giving citizens the ability to positively influence the food of today and tomorrow “, explains Christophe Breuillet.

The idea is to give meaning to food. Educational and creative workshops will be organized with the various local partners, such as the community centers of Quetigny or Fontaine d’Ouche, for example. ” We will look for citizens where they live with their cultural differences, their beliefs, their origins and their purchasing power, to try to imagine the future of food by 2030, or even 2050. “. The ideas and innovations that emerge from these exchanges can then be taken up by local or national agro-food companies. Like a funnel, the International City of Gastronomy and Wine in Dijon aims to become a focal point for FoodTech initiatives. ” Our ambition is to make consumers converge towards this third place which is a unique tool in Europe ! “says Christophe Breuillet.

An international influence

Thanks to its complete offer, Vitagora is already a unique structure in France which makes it possible to unite economic players and project leaders for the benefit of local dynamics. It is both a professional association for the agri-food sector, labeled as an agri-food competitiveness cluster, and a representative of the Regional Digital and Artificial Intelligence Agency in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. Vitagora brings together 653 members – food companies and providers of innovative solutions. ” Every week we receive membership requests. The competitiveness cluster is growing by 14% per year », assures Christophe Breuillet.

Our influence is international and appeals to startups because we can open doors for them to interesting geographical areas, such as Japan, for example. Entrepreneurs can thus capture market opportunities “, he continues.

Vitagora’s international deployment strategy for 2030 is to identify other markets for its members. ” We wish to continue our deployment in the Southeast Asia and East Africa zone from our new anchor point in Rwanda, to continue our partnerships in North America, with Canada and the United States, but also develop opportunities in other countries “says Christophe Breuillet. The latter maintains the course so that the region becomes in a few years, the “Silicon Valley of the food industry. »