Paris-based Agorize‘s platform connects businesses and organisations with innovators from across the world through open innovation challenges between companies and students, developers, startups, and employees.
After raising €300k in 2012 and €2 million in 2017, the startup has now raised €13 million from Creadev, Sofiouest, Iris Capital, and Capnamic Ventures. Founded in 2010, Agorize already works with almost 200 clients, including Accord, Microsoft, Amazon, and L’Oréal.
Agorize’s open innovation platform offers online hackathons organised by companies. For example, you can take part in a challenge organised by PSG and Polytechnique around the use of algorithms for measuring the performance of footballers, with a prize of a scholarship for €100k. The startup is also planning to launch an “Agorize for Good” project by offering its platform free of charge to NGOs like the Red Cross to organise their own hackathons.
The company is already present internationally with offices in Montreal, San Francisco, Stuttgart and Hong Kong. The new capital will allow the startup to expand in these markets.
“In the next 5 years, we will only make around 10 or 20% of our turnover in France,” predicts Charles Thou, co-founder and CEO.
Agorize plans to hire between 75 and 120 employees by the end of the year in sales, marketing, customer support, as well as developers and community managers to care for hackathon participants.
The community aspect is important, because Agorize’s mission is to help large groups reach a wider audience of innovators.
“Among the participants, there are profiles that may interest companies as well as atypical profiles,” said Thou. “Winners can benefit from financial prizes, but also job opportunities and internships. In 2018, LVMH hired 350 people after a challenge involving 5,000 participants at European level.”Agorize also allows large groups to develop their employer brand.”
The Agorize platform can also be used internally by large groups to promote intraprofessional development, in which a challenge is offered to employees around an innovation project.
“This allows them to work together on strategic issues, without the barrier of the hierarchy or an organisation in silos,”said Thou. “One of Agorize’s future development priorities will be the ‘reinforcement of training through innovation’.”