Station F has established itself as the largest incubator in the world. It is also one of the most dynamic. Jump, Ulysse, Greenly, Yuko, Luko and even hosted a number of successful startups. 900. care. History, accelerators, programs, restaurants… We tell you everything you need to know about this giant anthill located in Paris!
Incubator and Accelerator: What’s the Difference?
Before starting to read this article, it is important to understand the difference between an incubator and an accelerator, two devices designed to support project managers and entrepreneurs. You should also know that the word “beginning” has several possible spellings. While most dictionaries recommend using “start-up”, we preferred the English version most commonly used in everyday language: startup.
An incubator is a program or center that provides resources and services to start-up businesses, such as co-working spaces, mentoring and funding opportunities. The goal is to support the development and growth of companies. In general, incubators like F Station offer programs to help you get your project off to a good start. The campus, the world’s largest startup campus, also gives you the opportunity to connect with business angels, partners or other entrepreneurs who can help you.
An accelerator, on the other hand, focuses more on accelerating business growth, providing intensive mentoring, one-on-one training, funding opportunities, and networking to help businesses reach their potential. Accelerators are often focused on specific areas such as technology or biotechnology.
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The story of station F
Station F is a Paris-based startup incubator that opened its doors in 2017. It was founded in 2013 by entrepreneur and French billionaire Xavier Niel, who began to imagine this project. It was in 2014 that he decided to buy. Work begins on a 34,000-square-meter former post office building and its transformation into a workspace for startups. The construction of Station F was a complex and expensive process, requiring a complete renovation of the old post office building.
Station F’s goal was to create a coworking and support space for startups. The goal was to provide startups with a flexible working environment and quality services, while also allowing them to network with other companies and entrepreneurs. The world’s largest incubator includes co-working space, meeting rooms, exercise rooms and lounge areas, as well as services such as legal and accounting advice.
Station F opened its doors in July 2017 and became the largest coworking center in the world. It currently hosts more than 1,000 startups and is considered a symbol of the innovation ecosystem in France. It has become one of the main meeting places for entrepreneurs, investors and opinion leaders in France and around the world.
Today, station F consists of three separate halls. The first houses the incubators of large groups and business schools, while the second is dedicated to research laboratories and experiments. This is a closed place for the general public. The latter hosts the restaurant “La Felicità” from the Big Mamma group. Station F is currently managed by Roksan Varza, director of the institution.
Who funded station F?
The Station F project is a figment of one man’s imagination. He is also the sole investor and founder of this place: Xavier Niel. The aim of the mayor of Paris and the businessman was to make Paris the center of entrepreneurship in France as well as in Europe. Xavier Niel spent several million euros for this.
How much does station F cost? The creation of this incubator required an investment of 250 million euros, money put on the table by Xavier Niel. This investment was made by NJJ, a 100% entrepreneur’s holding company, which has enabled it to make numerous investments in Tech, digital and education, such as Ecole 42.
Also read: Ranking of France’s 10 biggest fortunes in 2023
Where does the name “F Station” come from?
What is the origin of the special name of the world’s largest incubator? The name “F Station” comes from its historical location in Paris. It is located in a former postal building known as “Halle Freyssinet” or “Halle Freyssinet” after engineer Paul Freyssinet, who designed the building in 1922 to serve as a mail sorting center. The name “F” therefore refers to Freyssinet’s first letter.
Station F logo
Station F’s logo is inspired by the architecture of the building, which is a historic Art Deco building. It represents the element of the facade of the building, the relief frieze that completely surrounds this hall. This frieze is a symbol of modernity, innovation and avant-garde and reflects the values of Station F as an innovative incubator.
Business schools at Station F
At Station F, only three business schools have the chance to participate in Station F and host an incubator there: HEC Paris, EDHEC and INSEAD. All of them opened their own incubator between 2017 and 2018. In the buildings of this huge incubator, there are also other institutions such as École 42, CentraleSupélec, Les ParisTech or Telecom Paris bridges, which opened a branch in 2017.
The strengths of Station F are of course its central location in Paris, its dynamic environment, and the programs offered to startups and entrepreneurs that allow students to benefit from a unique professional experience and connect with the innovation ecosystem.
If startups can benefit from Station F’s services, they can also benefit from personalized support from schools in developing their projects. Interviewed by us in 2021, Justine Soudier, responsible for managing EDHEC Entrepreneurs, explained that “ our startups benefit from about forty hours of coaching and a la carte program every month thanks to our 200 experts who can support them on various topics: funding, growth, fundraising… They are free to choose the resources they need. »
Also read: Behind the scenes of the EDHEC incubator at Station F
Incubators of the world’s largest startup campus
Within Station F, several large groups have decided to host programs or incubators. We found:
- LVMH (Luxury)
- Startup Garage Paris (Data) from Facebook
- BNP Paribas (FinTech & InsurTech)
- Ubisoft (Game)
- THALES (Cyber Security)
- Media Lab TF1 (Media)
- L’ORÉAL (Beauty)
- Microsoft (Green Technology)
- Cegid Data Lab (Data)
- ShakeUp Factory (FoodTech)
- HAVAS (Advertising Technology)
- ICM (MedTech)
- TotalEnergies On (Electrical)
- Binance Labs (Crypto and Web3)
- HECTARE (AgriTech)
- First Entrepreneur
- City of Tomorrow (Smart City)
- Moove Lab (Mobility)
- Space Green by Naver / Line (Digital)
- Slack (The Future of Work)
- 212 founders by CDG Invest
Station F programs
Station F offers many support programs. We found Launch by Station F, a 100% online program that allows you to get acquainted with entrepreneurship and master all the ins and outs of this subject.
The Founders Program 2.0 is Station F’s flagship program. It offers both modules to raise awareness about entrepreneurship, as well as support and a wealth of resources to help you launch and grow your project.
The Warriors Program is primarily aimed at entrepreneurs from underprivileged families. It’s also a social startup device, as applying startups are entitled to one year of free one-on-one support.
Ultimately, the FemTech Program aims to address an important issue related to women’s health. If you apply for this new six-month program, you will be accompanied by approximately fifty experts dedicated to this topic. You’ll also have access to a number of resources on women’s health.
In addition, station F has signed partnership agreements with a number of companies, such as one company Signed with PayFit and Gonto offers a connection between these startups dedicated to payment and human resources and the entrepreneurs of this incubator.
Also read: Launch Station F’s new support program for entrepreneurs
You want to connect to Station F. There are several access routes for this. Some incubators employ a specific process on their side. For programs offered by business or engineering schools, it is possible to apply, provided that your project is supported by at least one student or graduate of the institution.
The procedure for Station F programs, and especially the Founders Program 2.0, is quite simple: just create an account, then fill out the form. It should contain a lot of information about your project: website, collaborators, presentation or presentation of your project, photo of your product… Be careful, you can imagine! This process is very selective and there are few places to join this great campus.
Arrival of Big Mamma’s restaurant at F station
One piece of news that marks and boosts the popularity of Station F is the arrival of Big Mamma’s restaurant, La Félicità. This huge hall dedicated to Italian food can accommodate up to 1000 people and houses corners dedicated to burgers, pizzas, pastas or ice cream.
The idyllic setting and many activities on offer (karaoke, DJ, Christmas market) make this iconic venue fun. food court Station F is very popular among entrepreneurs, but also among tourists and Parisians.