Govtech: New Technology Serving Citizens
The acronym GovTech covers all of the technology solutions that are changing the face of public services in France. A booming sector in which France stands out thanks to several innovating start-ups. “There has never been a better time to make public services more accessible by using new technology,” declared Emmanuel Macron during the GovTech Summit in Paris on the 12th of November 2018 – but what does the term actually mean?
The GovTech market being a fairly new one, there is no universally accepted definition of the term. However, according to Bpifrance, “A startup becomes GovTech when is works for the public sector. In fact, a whole raft of start-ups work on GovTech unknowingly!” Mobile apps connecting citizens to their elected representatives, online medical appointments, AI working for public administration. GovTech applies to multiple areas. The capital-risk firm Public counts 2000 GovTech start-ups in Europe. “The use of new technology to better serve our citizens is an incredible opportunity for governments,” explains a report co-written by Public and Accenture. “With a European market worth 25 billion euros, GovTechs could well become one of the most important sectors of Europe’s digital economy”. Here are a few examples of nuggets, reaching the top 10 of French GovTechs, a ranking drawn up by Public.
Manty: putting data science at the heart of local authorities
“Our goal is to help local authorities and civil servants make the best decisions based on the massive amounts of data that they have at their disposal,” explains Mathieu Nohet who co-founded Manty in 2017 with two classmates from Centrale Paris.
On the platform, elected officials can ask a raft of questions (average staff wage, total expenditure) and obtain detailed and illustrated responses in a matter of moments. “The tool has a predictive feature,” adds Nohet, “for the city of Courbevoie, we developed an algorithm which predicted attendance in their canteens in order to avoid food waste”.
This young shoot, with its twenty odd clients is incubated within Station F in Paris and has raised 250000 euros from business angels this year. “The goal is to develop Manty in Germany by then end of 2019,” says Nohet, while recognizing that he benefited from a very favorable environment in France (BPI subsidy, young innovative company scheme, research tax breaks).
Doctolib: making life easier for patients and practitioners. In five years, Doctolib has made its mark as the European leader in online bookings for medical appointments. The health practitioner pays a subscription of 109 euros per month and their service is free for the patient. According to Doctolib, in automating appointment bookings, doctors see an administrative time gain of 30%, reducing the number of appointments cancelled at the last minute.
A system that has already convinced 30 000 practitioners and 800 health centers (hospitals, clinics, medical centers). The company, present on the German market since 2016, has raised a total of 85 million euros since its conception. In July, it announced the acquisition of its main rival, MonDocteur. With this purchase, Doctolib now counts 600 employees with a vue to reaching 1000 in the next two years.
Fluicity connects citizens and their elected representatives; “Governance is a major issue for the 21st century: people no longer trust the political class and turnout is at all time low,” reflects Julie de Pimodan, 35, founder of Fluicity. Conscious of the pivotal role that new technology has played in the democratic process, in 2015 she launched an mobile app that allows citizens to be heard on practical issues like traffic, pollution, roads.
Elected officials can also launch consultations (by suggesting that constituents vote on a project they support for example) and welcome ideas (how to improve sustainable development in a community for example). “Our algorithms process and analyze responses to help elected officials make decisions,” explains de Pimodan.
Fluicity, which employs 15, has roughly 40 clients including the cities of Tours and Perpignan, the European Commission and four Parisian boroughs. The startup raised 950 000 euros in 2018 from private investors and the BPI, to improve its product and commercial development.
MedGo simplifies Hospital cover shifts: Founded in 2017, MedGo allow health organizations to find a caregiver, a nurse or midwife in a click. Contributors register and specify their medical qualifications on MedGo. “Then, once a hospital is looking to cover a member of staff, all they need to do is post the kind of professional they are looking for and the cover dates and our algorithms pinpoint profiles that match the dates and criteria and informs them by text,” explains Antoine Loron, co-founder of the startup which was one of incubator Station F’s first.
MedGo, which has already convinced 700 healthcare organizations (hospitals, clinics, Ehpad), raised a million euros in 2017, most notably from Kima Ventures, Xavier Niel’s fund. Another fundraising campaign is planned for 2019. “Our goal is to reach 3000 client organisations in France and to be established in three other countries by 2020,” concludes Antoine Loron.
Unemployment-fighting algorithms: Bob Emploi, renamed Bob, is a project created in France in 2016 by Bayes Impact, a not-for-profit organization. The goal is to guide unemployed people in their search for a job with the help of a free platform. “Our idea is to use algorithms and AI to help people who are looking for work,” explains Nicolas Divet, Public Relations manager for Bayes Impact.
The first stage consists of collecting user information through registration (age, studies, skills, residence…). “We cross-reference user profiles with the data we have on the jobs market to provide an analysis”. Second stage: Bob offers advice to help the individual improve their job hunt (suggesting other locations, re-training).