Publicis Groupe and one of its clients, telecommunications giant Orange, are launching a new venture fund to back digitally focused European startups. Each company is contributing an initial 75 million euros (about $83 million at today’s exchange rate) to the new fund, but the expectation is that other companies will also invest.
The companies announced the fund at a Franco-German conference on the digital transformation in Paris today. The heads of the two companies — Publicis Groupe CEO Maurice Levy and Orange CEO Stephane Richard — and independent investor Gerhard Cromme signed a letter of intent to start the fund, to be known as IrisNext.
IrisNext — to be managed by Iris Capital with assistance from German venture capital fund Capnamic — is a follow-up to the Orange-Publicis Ventures fund established in 2012.
The fund will invest in companies focused on Big Data, cloud technology, artificial intelligence, and robotics, among other sectors.
All the holding companies invest in startups in form or another. One recent example is Dentsu, which in April launched a fund targeting startups in Europe, North America and Asia that design solutions for the latest advertising and marketing challenges.