12 magnificent start-ups from Montpellier to watch

9 Mar 2018

Montpellier. Image: RossHelen/Shutterstock

The Mediterranean city of Montpellier is the Silicon Valley of the south of France, as these 12 start-ups prove.

France’s third-largest Mediterranean city, Montpellier has always been a business-minded place, with trading links across the Mediterranean world and a rich cultural life.

Education has always featured high on the agenda and, to this day, nearly a third of the population consists of students from the three universities and three higher-education institutions.

Future Human

The city can rightfully regard itself as the Silicon Valley of France’s southern coast due to the presence of IT giants such as IBM, Capgemini, Ubisoft, Sanofi and Dell as well as a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Local success stories such as BIME – which was acquired by Zendesk for $45m in 2015 (check out our interview with Rachel Delacour) – as well as individuals such as Dr Bertin Nahum, who sold his company Medtech for €164m, only serve to inspire.

At Slush in Helsinki, I met Chantal Marion, vice-president in charge of economic development at Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole, who explained that there are more than 400 start-ups active in Montpellier, straddling sectors such as health, sport, infosec, agritech and ecology.

She explained that the Business Innovation Centre in Montpellier was one of the first start-up incubators in Europe, established 36 years ago.

She said that from healthcare to smart cities, Montpellier has always broken new ground. “We have the oldest university of medicine that is still in activity that dates back to 1189, the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Montpellier. We foster a lot of creative and cultural industries, including gaming and agritech. We also have a lot of start-ups working on irrigation and treatment for wine. In fact, the best ambassadors for our wine are our start-ups.”

Marion’s colleague, Pascal Ribes, head of the international department at Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole, also pointed out that Montpellier BIC has been ranked number two in the UBI Global ranking of top business incubators that collaborate with universities, after the Guinness Enterprise Centre in Dublin.

Both Marion and Ribes were adamant that I come and visit to check out the start-up ecosystem in Montpellier, which I would love to some day soon but, in the meantime, here are 12 local start-ups we believe are worth watching.


1001Pharmacies is an online pharmaceuticals retailer that offers a broad catalogue of health, beauty and wellbeing products. Founded in 2012, the company has raised $8.9m in funding so far.


Matooma is a machine-to-machine (M2M) internet of things (IoT) player that supplies SIM cards – including its own SIM card, the Matoocard – to many telecoms operators. The Matoocard, a multi-operator SIM, has fixed rates and no hidden costs, and can be activated within a minute.


HTTPCS, or Ziwit SAS, is the company behind a security technology that defends against cyber risks, hackers and data theft. The company develops tools that include a next-generation vulnerability scanner and a tool for web developers as well as the protection of app and system perimeters.


MatchUpBox provides digital identity and personal data services around its PikcioChain, which is a proprietary, permission-based blockchain. The product of three years of R&D work, the PikcioChain creates an intelligent and secure transactional ecosystem. Founded in 2014, MatchUpBox has raised $500,000 in seed funding from angel investors.


Pradeo is an infosec player that provides mobile security solutions that use AI to ward off unknown and advanced threats. It also provides app security testing and app self-protection solutions. The company was founded by Vivien Raoul, Clément Saad and Stéphane Saad, and has a channel network covering more than 40 countries.


Snapkin has developed a 3D measurement and floor-plan tool using technologies that work alongside platforms such as Autodesk and Kinect for Windows. The platform optimises the time of building professionals by providing 2D and 3D models of the interior of buildings and the floor plan. Founded in 2013, Snapkin has raised more than €367,000 in seed funding.


Tellmeplus is a software player specialising in AI and machine learning that is applied to big data. It makes machines and objects intelligent and intelligible. The start-up’s Predictive Objects platform deploys AI where the data is produced and where decisions need to be made, at the edge of the network. Founded in 2011 by Jean-Michel Cambot, Tellmeplus has raised $4.7m in funding from investors that include Ventech, XAnge, Soridec, Runa Capital and Axeleo.


Qualtera provides innovative data analysis systems and services for test and product engineering for fabless electronics companies. Founded by Abel Mikati, Dirk Vries, Paul Simon, Richard Mousties and Thierry Raymond, the company has raised €3m from Serena Capital.

Quantum Surgical

Quantum Surgical is building the next generation of smart tools for minimally invasive surgeries. The robotic platform will enable physicians to better assess, plan and treat a broad spectrum of medical conditions. The president of Quantum Surgical is Dr Bertin Nahum, founder of Medtech, creator of the medical robot technology Rosa, which was bought in 2017 for €164m. Nahum was ranked fourth most advanced high-tech entrepreneur in the world in a publication of the Canadian magazine Discovery Series, behind Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and James Cameron.


Vaonis is the creator of an ulta-compact, connected telescope called Stellina that allows users to discover and share the beauty of the night sky from either the comfort of their home or the most remote places. Founded by Cyril Dupuy in 2016, Vaonis’ Stellina is one of the world’s first all-in-one telescopes connected to a mobile app. Stellina was named CES 2018 Innovation Honoree in the Digital Imaging category.


Virdys has developed an editor that enables fast creation of 3D interactive visualisation in real time, online or in client environments. Its core business is around providing access to interactive 3D visualisation and simulation for professionals.


VogoSport is the creator of a patented smart-stadium technology that is used by a range of sports organisations and stadiums, including GT Tour, FFR, FF Judo, Lyon Rugby, Montpellier Rugby, FFA, Canal+ and France TV Sport, to name a few. Spectators equipped with smartphones can now watch the action from several different camera views, live and in real time. Founded in 2013 by Christophe Carniel, VogoSport has raised $4m in equity and other financing to date.

Want stories like this and more direct to your inbox? Sign up for Tech Trends, Silicon Republic’s weekly digest of need-to-know tech news.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years