Starting out as a researcher in biomedical engineering, Fabrice Marquet took an unusual career path, swapping science labs for boardrooms. A key member of the startup incubator MonacoTech from 2016 to 2019, the Monégasque went on to set up Monaco Foundry, a global venture accelerator investing in young startups. Here is the story behind a man of conviction, striving to share his vision with the rest of the world.
A lifetime of changes. Some quick and radical, others more thought out. His decisions have taken him all over the world, but his story began in 1981, right here in Monaco. 16 years later, Baccalauréat in hand (French equivalent of GCSEs that he passed one year before his peers did), the young Fabrice decided to embark on an adventure in Nice, not far from his home in Monaco. There he would complete an intensive two-year programme before setting off to broaden his horizons in Paris.
“I threw myself into engineering school,” he explained. For four years he would study in the French capital, before spending a sixth month stint in Eindhoven in Holland, working with the electronics giant Philips. On his return to Paris, he completed a four-year PhD in biomedical engineering, before jetting off to New York for another big adventure.
If we actually used what was lying around on university bookshelves, there would be no need to invent anything for the next 20 years!
“I loved it from the off. So cosmopolitan, so much blind optimism about the future… Culturally, my time in the USA was a very enriching experience.” In the Big Apple, this young graduate, with a burning passion for innovation, was already starting to rub shoulders with those in the world of business. He was getting a taste of what was to be his vocation in just a few years’ time.
A career rethink and a new life
“Whilst writing my dissertation, I helped set up several businesses, such as SuperSonicImagine*,” says the 39-year-old, who worked in the Bordeaux University Hospital after his four years living in America. “I also went on to obtain two patents, but I began to realise just how much bureaucracy and resistance could kill innovation. If we actually used what was lying around on university bookshelves, there would be no need to invent anything for the next 20 years!”
Unfulfilled by the world of scientific research and academia, Fabrice Marquet chose to rethink his entire career in 2016, and instead pursue his love for innovation and business. “As an adult, I had never spent any time living in my home country,” he smiled. “So, when I heard about MonacoTech, I didn’t think twice.”
The current incubation model is not enough, especially if the goal is to create a multinational company.
A fire ignited within him as Fabrice Marquet threw himself headfirst into this adventure with MonacoTech. Starting out with nothing and having never worked in the sector before, the former scientist contributed to the rise of this state-owned company, presided by Minister of Finance and Economy, Jean Castellini. “I learnt a lot during those three years. I had never been involved in running innovation programmes before, but pretty quickly, I realised that I liked solving problems.”
Giving a helping hand to upcoming startups
Inspired by an international vision, the American dream as he likes to remind people, Fabrice Marquet decided in 2019 to create his own company: Monaco Foundry. “The current incubation model is not enough, especially if the goal is to create a multinational company. The difficulty with launching a startup is not having enough money. You have to find people who are willing to take risks with you and gamble on the future.”
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Currently holding shares in 17 companies from countries all over the globe, including Finland, Latvia, Mexico, Italy, France, England and Switzerland to name but a few, Monaco Foundry continues to grow, striving to change the rules of the game.
The European way of thinking is very short sighted. We are very cautious. As soon as we step into uncharted waters, we don’t know what to do.
“The European way of thinking is very short sighted. We are very cautious. As soon as we step into uncharted waters, we don’t know what to do. Since the revolution of the internet and so much new technology, we’re kind of just waiting to see what’s going to happen,” says Fabrice Marquet. “The main aim is to maximise shareholders’ profits in the short term. During the pandemic, creative budgets have been heavily cut. In my opinion, that’s the exact opposite of what should have been done,” he adds. A man with strong convictions, standing up for what he believes in, whether others agree with him or not, he is determined to bring his creativity and passion to life for years to come, leaving the science labs far behind him.
*Medical imaging company based in Aix-en-Provence. Listed by Euronext, leading stock exchange in Europe.