Orange has opened a startup accelerator in Spain, under its Orange Fab brand. Orange Fab Spain, based in Madrid, will focus primarily on accelerating startups in the Internet of Things and NFC sectors. The move is in keeping with Orange’s strategy of seeking innovation in its footprint territories alongside the more traditional innovation clusters, such as Silicon Valley and Israel.
Innovation is worldwide, not just in Silicon Valley
Orange has been particularly aggressive in expanding its innovation program throughout its footprint. From the initial location in Silicon Valley, CA, Orange Fab has expanded to Europe (France, Poland), Asia (China, Japan, South Korea), the Middle East (Israel, Jordan) and Africa (Ivory Coast). Since starting in 2013, it has accelerated over 100 startups across its entire footprint.
This is important for two reasons. First, it enables Orange to build relationships with innovation clusters outside the San Francisco Bay Area, giving it access to entrepreneurs and investors who might not be willing or able to relocate to Silicon Valley, whether for economic reasons or regulatory reasons (such as acquiring visas or work permits). Raising its profile among innovators and investors has been a key component of Orange’s innovation strategy from the start, and while Orange has better brand recognition in Spain, where it is an ISP and mobile operator, this is also a chance to reposition itself among entrepreneurs as a company that can support them.
A related benefit is that it gives Orange a wider pool of startups to work with, whose technology the company could potentially offer to its own customers. Orange has signed deals with five of the 29 startups that have gone through Fab Silicon Valley, as well as several more in France, through its Orange Digital Ventures fund. One example is Afrimarket, which partners with local retailers to make transfers via Orange Money to customers in Ivory Coast, Senegal, Benin, and Togo.
Orange has also said the move reaffirms its commitment to the Spanish market, particularly following its acquisition of broadband provider Jazztel.
Telco Innovation Strategy: Orange Fab, TE0009-001442 (July 2015)
Francesco Radicati, Senior Analyst, Digital Services