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About the program

The Start in France program aims to promote the French deeptech ecosystem and attract international talent in research and innovation.

To this end, through an annual call for applications, the program selects US-based researchers and entrepreneurs, regardless of nationality, with a disruptive innovation project; it offers its laureates a two-stage training program:

  • a virtual preparation seminar, consisting of workshops organized by French innovation experts, to familiarize laureates with the specific features of the French deeptech ecosystem and its academic and administrative particularities;
  • an immersion in France, during which the laureate entrepreneurs take part in workshops, one-to-one meetings with key players in their field, and networking events. The aim of this immersion is to draw up, with the support of local players, a roadmap for a potential move to France, in order to add value to their disruptive innovation project through the creation of a startup or collaboration with a research laboratory.

Eligibility requirements

The Start in France program is aimed at deep-tech researchers and entrepreneurs. To be eligible, applicants must reside in the United States, provide proof of research activity and have a project that is not incorporated in the United States.

Participation fees

In the event of selection, a lump-sum contribution of 500 euros is requested from the winners to cover part of the costs of immersion in France. Air travel costs to France are also the responsibility of the laureates.


  • Submission of applications:
  • Selection interviews:
  • Announcement of winners:
  • Virtual training seminar:
  • Immersion week:

Apply for the Start in France program


In 2005, the Office for Science and Technology (OST) of the Embassy of France in the United States created the Young Enterprise Initiative (YEi) program, also known as YEi – Start in France

Initially offered in the USA, under the name Young Entrepreneurs Initiative, and primarily aimed at expatriate French researchers with an innovative entrepreneurial project that would enable them to re-establish themselves in France, the YEi program has evolved over the years to open up to more mature companies; in 2016, it was extended to other countries. Between 2005 and 2019, the program brought together 199 participants in 15 editions, not only from the USA but also from 9 other countries: Canada, Finland, Germany, Italy, Norway, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden and Taiwan. Between 2018 and 2020, the program was led directly by the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs. Suspended since 2021, due to the pandemic, the program will be offered again in the United States by La Synapse during 2023-2024, under the Start in France name.

Startups origin

Most YEi laureates in the USA come from university-affiliated research laboratories. The two most represented states are Massachusetts (37%) and California (27%). In the proposed new Start in France format, efforts will be concentrated on geographically diversifying the selected talent, thanks to La Synapse’s 7 locations, to better represent the academic, scientific and technological landscape of the United States.
Massachusetts, 42 winners
Californie, 31 winners
New York, 8 winners
Illinois, 7 winners
Pennsylvanie, 3 winners
Géorgie, 3 winners
Autres États, 18 winners

Fields of activity

La Synapse’s thematic competencies are focused on 10 scientific and technological fields. However, the Start in France program is open to all disruptive innovation projects, with the emphasis above all on the disruptive nature of the innovation.

The 199 laureates of the program since 2005 are mainly in three sectors:biology, medicine and healthcare (48%), ICT and artificial intelligence (33%), energy and environmental challenges (15%). Nevertheless, the new program format will pay particular attention to diversifying the scientific fields of the projects, in order to better represent the expertise of American research institutions, in line with the cutting-edge fields of the French deeptech ecosystem and the objectives of the “France 2030” plan.

Success stories

Nearly 15% of YEi award-winning entrepreneurs from the USA have set up a business in France following their participation in the program. By way of example, Akrivis Technologies (YEi 2010) developed a joint laboratory with CEA-LETI in 2014, Milo Biotechnology (YEi 2012) entered into an R&D partnership with Génopole d’Evry in 2014, and PathMaker Neurosystems (YEi 2014) was incubated at the “Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle épinière”.

New format

By refocusing on attracting talent, Start in France, in its new format, aims to enrich the French deeptech ecosystem with researchers, experts and entrepreneurs to strengthen and internationalize the disruptive innovation dynamic. Through Start in France, laureates will be able to identify the strengths of France’s innovation and research ecosystem, as well as the programs and support structures relevant to their potential move. In synergy with the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research, the Ministry of the Economy and Finance, La French Tech, Choose France and Business France, the training seminar and immersion week will aim to inform on the quality of French research, the possibilities of setting up in the Paris region and elsewhere, and the support available to deeptech entrepreneurs. The contacts made during the immersion will help prepare for a potential future move and facilitate the necessary administrative and logistical processes.