France Telecom-Orange and Publicis Groupe are launching a new venture capital fund, committing €150 million (about $270 million) to finance and develop digital technology, content and services. The two sponsors intend other investors to join them to double the available amount.

Investments will be divided into three categories. Seed-capital and early-stage investment will target fledgling companies in France and Europe, with investments of up to €1 million ($1.4 million). Later-stage financing for more established companies in France and Europe will provide up to €15 million ($20.6 million) per project. Thirdly, the fund may opt to invest in startups outside Europe alongside American or Asian partner funds.

The fund will be operated by a third-party management company, with investment decisions made by a committee independent of the funds’ sponsors. It’s probable that the funds will go to startups in online marketing, e-commerce, mobile content and services, online gaming and social networks, as well as their associated technologies and infrastructures such as middleware, cloud computing, security, and online payments.

France Telecom-Orange is present in 35 countries, with a customer base of 221 million that includes 162 million mobile customers and 14 million broadband internet (ADSL, fibre) customers worldwide.

Publicis Groupe is the third largest communications group in the world and includes Leo Burnett, MSLGroup, PHCG (Publicis Healthcare Communications Group), Publicis Worldwide, Rosetta and Saatchi & Saatchi. VivaKi, the Groupe’s media and digital accelerator, includes Digitas, Razorfish, Starcom MediaVest Group and ZenithOptimedia.

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