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Interview with Aurélie Clerc

On the theme People & Tech, Aurélie Clerc, Managing Director at Cyber Booster tells us about how securing exchanges and activities, especially digital ones, is essential to guarantee the sovereignty of companies.

Aurélie Clerc (2)

people & tech

About Aurélie

Aurélie Clerc is Managing Director at Cyber Booster, the very first start-up studio dedicated to cybersecurity in France. Aurélie spend 17 years at La Française Des Jeux and left as innovation manager in 2018. After an experience in freelance, notably in the Axeleo ecosystem, she joined Cyber Booster. 

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My name is Aurélie Clerc and I am the director of Cyber Booster. Cyber Booster is the first startup studio dedicated to cybersecurity in France and was initiated as part of the Grand Défi Cybersécurité.

Transformation & Innovation

The first question is why we go looking for innovation outside. There are levels of maturity that change the intentions and, as a result, the systems to be implemented. Today, we don't even talk about digital anymore because it's obvious, it's everywhere. Digitalization has profoundly challenged the historical players and forced them to appropriate and acculturate themselves to what digital is, how to implement tools, different methods, etc. To make this transformation, the big groups needed to be in contact with those who understood digital best: the startups. Hence all these open innovation policies, are put in place to understand, acculturate, find solutions, etc. Today, the challenge for large groups is not only that, since we can see that digital is everywhere in the historical players, but it is how to scale up, and deploy more for what we can do, in collaboration with startups. So finding innovative solutions and creating value with these innovative solutions beyond the necessary preliminary stage of understanding, acculturation, and transformation.

Tech & Talents

Then there are other issues. There is the challenge of finding tomorrow's employees, and that also means finding ideas and insights. Opening up to the student population and the schools offer many operations to large groups or Hackathons. Hackathons are a bit dated, but they are studies that large groups can request. It also helps to nourish the employer brand and to identify tomorrow's talent, and there is also the challenge of finding tech a little further upstream in terms of R&D. This is all the more the case for technology and industrial companies, etc. And that can also mean opening up to labs and research institutes. There are also many mechanisms in place to promote and facilitate these relationships between the historical players, large groups, and laboratories or research institutes.

Entrepreneur & Startup Studio

The startup studio that is much talked about today in France is E-founders. The principle of a startup studio is to identify a problem, a need. To go and divert a solution, to start derisking it, to validate it. Then, at that point, go and find a founding team, a CEO, co-founders, and invest in them to create this company and deploy it. This means having skills that you put at the disposal of this new company, this new startup. Then to invest from a capital point of view too, by being stakeholders in the company's capital. This is exactly the eFounders model and others, such as Waoup. At Cyber Booster, it's a little different because we have a startup studio mission of matching market needs with the solutions that will be developed. With our partners, we will identify the needs that are not covered or are poorly covered by sovereign solutions. We will go and find the project leaders to ensure that there is a match between the needs of the market and the solutions that are developed. Where it's different from a traditional model is that we are not a stakeholder in the capital. We will provide financing, and we will also facilitate fundraising. That's kind of our mission and we won't be a stakeholder. We don't have a service against equity. We are not a stakeholder in the capital of the companies we support.

Ecosystem, Interaction & Sovereignty

Sovereignty is one of the missions of the Cyber Booster. We must contribute to the issues of sovereignty. When we talk about sovereignty, it's not just about technological or economic sovereignty, it's about sovereignty. You just have to look at the news, at geopolitics, to understand that by securing our data, our exchanges, and our digital activities, we guarantee the sovereignty of France, especially during the current conflicts or the presidential period. We know that there are risks that can happen and that goes beyond a technological risk but it concerns the balance of French society. So this is what we are talking about in terms of sovereignty. And then, the challenge of Cyber Booster is to contribute to this sovereignty by developing solutions that will protect all activities. To guarantee this, we're going to bring together various players, including large groups that identify needs and challenge to secure their activities. But we're also going to bring together more institutional players, such as the ANSSI, for example, the French National Agency for Information Systems Security, which will bring its vision of risks, its knowledge of these risks, and also other players such as the DGA, the Research Department, etc. The idea is really to associate the whole ecosystem because the Grand Défi Cyber's bias is to say that we have a rich ecosystem, we have a set of actors who are precious, but what is missing, what can be missing, is the interaction between these actors. Hence a number of initiatives. We can talk about the Cyber Campus which opens in February, which will bring together these actors under one roof. Cyber Booster is part of the same dynamic of working together, of mobilizing all the available skills to emulate the entrepreneurial initiative and multiply the sovereign solutions. That is to say that they are born and have a mastered capital in France and in Europe. They will not depend exclusively on American, Chinese or other players.

Cyber & Innovation

Cybersecurity today, you don't need to be a specialist to hear about it, we even hear about it on the news. Simply because digital is now everywhere. Data circulates everywhere. The more it circulates, the greater the risk of attacks, and the more security breaches there are. So the risk is increasingly large. I was reading a study by Orange Cyberdéfense that talked about 42 attacks per month on average per company. So there are more and more attacks that have an increasing impact, especially on the economic activity of companies, but also on the functioning of organizations. We can talk about hospitals during Covid, for example. Then, what is also quite marked, is that attacks are increasingly directed toward SMEs and VSEs which are less armed, and less equipped to constrain the cyber risk. So there is clearly an increased risk, the attacks are more and more numerous, more and more virulent. So there is a need to have more solutions to cover all these risks.

Impact & Meaning

Being the director of Cyber Booster is really about finding meaning in our missions today since we mentioned the issue of sovereignty. The work we do, of course, is to accelerate startups, but it is also to contribute to this sovereignty. In terms of the meaning and impact of our work, it makes sense to do what we do and to implement what we are implementing. In terms of other important and striking experiences in my professional career, I think of having created the open innovation approach within La Française des Jeux, of having initiated, structured, and developed it at a time of digital transformation within the framework of a strategic plan whose mission was really to ensure the digital transformation of La Française des Jeux. This was led by Stéphane Pallez, who is still CEO of La Française des Jeux. In this context, initiating this process, structuring it, and contributing, like other initiatives, to the transformation of the company. It was a very, very stimulating and enriching experience.

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