France’s Ministry of the Armed Forces and public investment bank Bpifrance launched a €50m ($59m) fund called Definvest on Thursday to invest in small and medium-sized enterprises.
The fund will aim to identify companies that are developing technologies which could have military applications but that have historically struggled to attract the necessary capital.
Definvest will take equity stakes, co-investing alongside financial and industrial investors. The fund will have access to the expertise of Bpifrance and the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA), the government’s defence procurement and technology agency.
Bpifrance and DGA have already begun the process of identifying potential investees, which could receive funding from early 2018.
France’s defence ecosystem contains approximately 10 large industrial groups as well as 4,000 small and medium-sized enterprises. They employ some 200,000 staff between them.