February 15, 2024

These 12 startups could be France’s next unicorns

Verkor and Mistral AI have left big shoes to fill — and these startups might be the next ones to do it

French president Emmanuel Macron is well-known for his love of unicorns.

In 2022, when sky-high company valuations were still fashionable, he set an ambitious target of hitting 100 French unicorns by 2030. Two years later, the country counts 30 startups that have reached a $1bn valuation — with the latest addition to the club, Paris-based fintech Pennylane, hitting the milestone a week ago.

That doesn’t mean that reaching president Macron’s objective will be easy. Last year, France saw only two startups become unicorns — battery manufacturer Verkor and AI newbie Mistral, with the latter managing to launch, raise almost €500m and unlock a $2bn valuation all in the same year. 

This compares to eight new unicorns in 2022 and 17 in 2021. Like the rest of Europe, France is feeling the hit of the downturn.


So, who will be next on the list? Sifted looked through Dealroom data to find out which French startups are likely to power through a challenging context and achieve the much coveted unicorn status next. 


Founding date: 2021

Latest valuation: Just under $1bn

With Electra’s latest round of funding, a €304m Series B earlier this year, CEO Aurélien de Meaux told Sifted the company was close to becoming a unicorn. The startup is building a network of fast-charging stations for electric vehicles — a market that is expected to explode as consumers make the switch to greener cars. 


Founding date: 2019

Latest valuation: $850m

Pigment’s business planning software  pulls together data that finance teams need to have a comprehensive view of the company and to model financial decisions. Last year, it bagged an $88m Series C at an $850m valuation led by US investor ICONIQ, which came off the back of a 600% increase in revenue and a 10-fold increase in users throughout 2022, according to the company. 


Founding date: 2014

Latest valuation: $660-990m, according to a Dealroom estimate 

Deepki collects and aggregates data on sustainability metrics like carbon emissions, water and energy usage and waste, as well as other ESG measurements for business customers. It raised a $150m Series C in March 2022, followed in 2023 by a partnership with US property management company CBRE, which made an investment, of an undisclosed size, in the company. 


Founding date: 2012

Latest valuation: $601-901m, according to a Dealroom estimate

SaaS company Brevo provides a customer relationship management (CRM) tool for businesses. In 2020, it raised a $163m Series B and two years later announced $100m ARR. Since 2019, the company has acquired 10 organisations to expand its geographical footprint and offering of services.

DNA Script

Founding date: 2014

Latest valuation: $825m

DNA Script raised  $35m in January 2022 — a follow-on round from its previous $161m Series C raised in October 2021. The company’s technology enables labs to design and manufacture synthetic DNA on demand, which it says reduces supply delays for clients. 

Amolyt Pharma

Founding date: 2014

Latest valuation: $552-828m, according to a Dealroom estimate

Biotech Amolyt Pharma develops new treatments for rare diseases that arise from hormonal imbalance and is currently working on addressing two diseases known as hypoparathyroidism and acromegaly. The company’s last fundraising round was a $138m Series C in 2023.


Founding date: 2013

Latest valuation: $540-810m, according to a Dealroom estimate

E-commerce platform Akeneo raised a $135m Series D in March 2022, taking its total funding to $196m.


Founding date: 2018

Latest valuation: $506-759m, according to a Dealroom estimate

Paris-based Alma seems to be weathering the fintech storm so far. The company bagged a €115m Series C in 2022 and the same year, raised $300m in debt from banking giant BNP Paribas. 

Descartes Underwriting

Founding date: 2018

Latest valuation: $480-720m, according to a Dealroom estimate

Descartes Underwriting insures corporates and governments against climate risk (things like natural disasters and extreme weather), and recently expanded its services to cyber insurance for enterprises. It raised a $120m Series B at the start of 2022 led by Highland Europe and Eurazeo.



Founding date: 2016

Latest valuation: $475-713m, according to a Dealroom estimate

To reduce the carbon footprint of buildings, Accenta builds infrastructure that regulates indoor heat and cold across the seasons, which is combined with AI to improve energy management efficiency. It raised €108m last year and the company says that its ARR has doubled every year since 2020.


Founding date: 2019

Latest valuation: $440-660m, according to a Dealroom estimate

Founded in 2019 by Physics Nobel Prize winner Alain Aspect, PASQAL is building quantum computers based on neutral atoms. The startup also made a move into quantum software by merging with Dutch quantum company Qu&Co in 2022 — and is now working with industrial groups like EDF and French bank Crédit Agricole to develop real-world applications for the nascent technology. At the start of 2023, PASQAL landed a €100m Series C.

Poolside AI

Founding date: 2023

Latest valuation: $400-600m, according to a Dealroom estimate

AI startup Poolside, which is building a tool similar to ChatGPT but for coding applications, made waves last summer when it emerged that it was moving its HQ from the US to Paris after raising a $126m seed round. Since then, the company has kept a low profile — but judging by the ascension of fellow AI model-building company Mistral, it’s certainly one to watch.

Daphné Leprince-Ringuet

Daphné Leprince-Ringuet is a reporter for Sifted based in Paris and covering French tech. You can find her on X and LinkedIn