Between 2012 and 2015, the number of startups created in France increased by 30%, which is 10 times higher than for regular companies. This sharp rise would not have been possible without the help of both public and private business incubators, which have provided startups with training and office space, as well as expert knowledge and support.

French entrepreneurs have been quick to understand the importance of these players in the business ecosystem, with the country now home to more than 300 private accelerators. The good news is that more will appear in the next two years, as the government-created French Tech Acceleration Fund plans to invest €200 million in business incubators by 2020.

From Station F to The Camp, each one of these incubators has its own identity, including NUMA, the very first one to appear in France. Now a global company operating in eight countries, NUMA was founded in 2015 as the very first organization for entrepreneurs, co-working space and startup accelerator in France. Its primary aim is to help startups find solutions to the world’s biggest problems by 2030.

“There’s a lot at stake for mankind in the next 12 years, with problems relating to education, healthcare, access to food and clean water, energy and social mobility. We’ve taken it upon ourselves to support the companies working to solve these issues,” explains Paul Moreau, project manager at NUMA.

“Every year, more than 3,000 startups from across the globe apply to take part in one of NUMA’s programs. This number has continued to rise in the past few years, which shows real enthusiasm for what we’re doing. We have a role to play here, to help structure and finance startups, and to help them create and manage long-term projects.”

Ultimately, only 2.5% of all candidates who apply are selected by NUMA, but Paul Moreau doesn’t see failure as something to be afraid of: “Those who have doubts about taking the plunge should bear in mind that failing isn’t frowned upon in the startup ecosystem, but standing still certainly is. We encourage entrepreneurs to experiment as much as possible.”

The lucky few who make it through will take part in one of NUMA’s three ongoing projects: Tech For Tomorrow, Tech For Planet and DataCity. Paul Moreau oversees the international development of these projects, which aim to use data and digital technology to address recurring urban issues and find ways to build more sustainable and efficient cities.

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