Orange announced the launch of a new fund, Orange Digital Ventures, today, which has earmarked €20 Million for investments of €500K-€3 Million in digital startups. Run by Pierre Louette & Mari-Noëlle Jégo-Laveissière, the fund adds to Orange’s existing initiatives, which include the Orange Fab accelerator with Silicon Valley, Parisian, Polish & Asian offices, and their $500 Million joint-fund with Publicis (run by Iris Capital).
While not directly attached to Orange Fab, the fund will allow Orange to make direct investments in startups covering sectors in which Orange has strategic interests – this as compared to Iris Capital, where the fund is autonomously and independently operated, although investments in companies like LookOut Mobile have proven to be strategic for Orange – and, as reported in LeMonde[fr], the fund may also serve for acquisitions, should the situation call for it.
In France, Orange has blazed the path for digital transformation, setting the benchmark for corporations looking to at ‘Open Innovation,’ a term that has become synonymous with startup investments and partnerships. The Telecom company still has kinks to work out internally – mostly related to its historical connections to the French government – however, Orange, born out of an acquisition of the UK company Orange by France Telecom in 2000, has made innovation core to its company, having changed its name officially to Orange in 2013.
Interested startups can reach out to ODV on their official website (the English version still has a few bugs, like missing images), and, given the company plans to make a dozen or so investments per year, I’m sure we’ll be hearing about the first investments in the next few months.