A French Tech Entrepreneur Has Seeded a $119 Million Investment Fund for Startups Expanding Access to Culture

The fund will invest in entrepreneurial projects that “produce a measurable social impact.”  

Frédéric Jousset. Courtesy of Art Explora.

This week, French businessman and publisher Frédéric Jousset launched a new €100 million ($119 million) impact investment fund geared specifically toward supporting upstart arts and culture projects.

The fund, ArtNova, will put money toward entrepreneurial efforts that, according to the announcement, “benefit the entire cultural ecosystem and produce a measurable social impact.”  

“My ambition is for ArtNova to accelerate the emerging art tech and culture tech industries, and have an impact on how one gets access to culture,” Jousset, an outspoken advocate of democratizing access to the arts, said in a statement. “Bringing together the cultural industry and investing an ambitious financial amount, we want to support the long-term sustainability of the cultural businesses and the ecosystem they serve.”

With the move, Jousset also announced his plans to abdicate his operational duties at Webhelp, the customer service company he co-founded in 2000 that made him a millionaire. He’ll remain vice president of Webhelp’s board while assuming the role of CEO at ArtNova.

The new fund has two branches. One, ArtNova Capital, will serve as an umbrella for the outfit’s venture and private equity investments in high-growth companies, with a focus on the sectors of media, services, and technology. The second, ArtNova Patrimoine, will put money towards cultural heritage projects. 

Promotional image for the Ars Explora Award, launched by the Art Explora Foundation. Image courtesy Ars Explora.

Promotional image for the Ars Explora Award, launched by the Art Explora Foundation. Image courtesy Ars Explora.

Young French companies are the priority now, though Jousset plans to expand the fund’s reach to the wider European continent in the future. Half of the fund’s profits will be put toward the Art Explora Foundation, a €6 million ($7.1 million) non-profit the entrepreneur founded last year. This summer, the foundation partnered with the Académie des Beaux-Arts to launch a €150,000 ($178,000) award for European institutions working to engage the broadest possible audience.

“Frédéric considers that now more than ever the cultural industries, and the cultural community as a whole, needs the support of the best entrepreneurs and the best innovations,” Jean-Baptiste Costa de Beauregard, the fund’s investment director, tells Artnet News. “However we also have a long-term perspective and, by solving one of the structural weaknesses of the cultural industries—the lack of capital—we want to have an impact on the entire ecosystem.” 

Jousset, a major patron of arts in France, currently owns a pair of art publications—Beaux Arts & Cie and Le Quotidien de l’Art, both of which are now funded by ArtNova. Other companies in the fund’s portfolio include Point Parole, an agency for museum guides and art historians, and Artsper, an online art marketplace.

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