Simplon.co raises € 12 million in order to accelerate its growth

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Published by Antoine Flavier

Simplon.co allows people who are unemployed and/or in school to benefit from free digital training, including in computer code. 95% of those enrolled in long-term training are marginalized. Phitrust Partenaires was involved in the last two fundraisings.

Simplon.co, the network of digital and inclusive factories in France and abroad, has completed a round of funding for 12 million from the “Banque des territoires” department of Caisse des Dépôts and a pool of investors of the social and solidarity economy (SEE), such as Amundi, Aviva Impact Investing, Esfin Gestion, France Active Investment, Inco, Mirova (Natixis group) and Phitrust Partners Europe.

“This fundraising demonstrates the renewed confidence of our investors, and will allow us to accelerate our development” says Frédéric Bardeau, the president of the social and solidarity company to its 219 employees, whose free training courses are labelled Grande Ecole du numérique. After approaching the cash crisis in 2017, “this is the first time we have raised funds with a sound business model,” he says. This will allow Simplon.co to continue its efforts to attract people far from employment and training to fragile territories, while developing these training centres. With 54 factories in France and 15 abroad, the network intends to take advantage of this operation to strengthen its partnerships in the territories.

Scaling up and diversification of training courses

Simplon has gained momentum, since its creation in Montreuil in 2013, the network has become a key player in the world of the social and solidarity economy (SSE). It all started with the idea of four entrepreneurs wishing to create a solidarity school. Thanks to a spin-off strategy, it was possible to train 4,268 people. With 1,644 learners currently in training, the stated objective is to exceed the 10,000 people trained by 2023. To achieve this result, Simplon.co plans to deploy new training engineering and create a  Apprenticeship Training Centre (CFA). “As of the start of the September school year, we will be deploying apprenticeship actions in Île de France, Lyon and northern France”, says its president, before adding that “the CFA is better suited to our public and allows for more guided training where companies can engage in longer ways.

The Digital Solidarity School intends to take advantage of this funding by investing in the design of new standards to adapt certifications to the requirements of companies. “At the time of the AI or the blockchain, the Designing new repositories is already a significant part of our business. We will be able to continue to develop new certifications of learners’ skills, in line with the needs of the companies,” says Frédéric Bardeau.

Fundraising is also an opportunity to highlight the Simplon Corp and Simplon Prod entities, which are still relatively unknown. The first one guides and support companies in their digital transformation, while the second one works as an integration company, where learners work on services for companies. In the further development of its social impact, “part of the fundraising will be dedicated to developing these employment-generating activities,” concludes the president of Simplon.co.