‘Manufactures de Proximité’

A ‘France Relance’ (French Recovery Plan) scheme co-developed with stakeholders


The unprecedented health and economic crisis that we are enduring has highlighted the existence of hyper-local production and the advantages of a complementary approach combining traditional industry with smaller, more agile production units, enabling a significant increase in capacities.

The crisis has also seriously undermined and jeopardised the livelihoods of a large number of local economic players, skilled craftworkers, entrepreneurs and micro-enterprises, leading to losses of economic activity in the territories.

‘Manufactures de Proximité’ (collaborative community workshops) aim to meet these challenges by promoting the preservation and development of craft skills, developing competencies, and modernising production processes while contributing to revitalisation on a local scale – first and foremost in small and medium-sized towns, rural areas and deprived urban neighbourhoods as defined by French urban policy.

As production-oriented third places that coordinate and provide services to a professional community, ‘Manufactures de Proximité’ are manufacturing workshops intended primarily for professionals, micro-enterprises, SMEs and craftworkers. These community workshops provide an environment that is conducive to the development of these professionals’ activities by giving them access to shared machinery, encouraging collaborative projects between residents, developing partnerships with local businesses, and providing support services and training to help everyone improve their competencies.

‘Manufactures de Proximité’ are inspired by territorial initiatives that have emerged in recent years to enable the development of local ecosystems based on the relocation of production, the promotion of expertise and the transmission of competencies. These projects demonstrate their commitment to both digital and ecological transitions, by promoting short circuits, re-use and digital manufacturing.

As a network, these actors have proven their responsiveness and resilience, notably by producing medical equipment during the first lockdown in 2020. To provide long-term support for entrepreneurs and craftworkers across France, the government – at the suggestion of France Tiers-Lieux – has decided to launch a programme of economic and engineering support for third-party production sites within the framework of the France Relance recovery plan.

To this end, the French National Agency for Territorial Cohesion (ANCT), alongside the France Tiers-Lieux association and the French Directorate-General for Enterprise, have laid the foundations for the ‘Manufactures de Proximité’ scheme, in association with several partners and professionals, with a view to developing the scheme in conjunction with stakeholders in the field, and addressing the economic, legal and property issues inherent to this type of project.

In line with other public policies promoting the relocation of production at the local level in France, with a particular focus on disadvantaged areas, this scheme has been designed and rolled out in close collaboration with the ‘Territoires d’Industrie’, ‘Petites Villes de Demain’ and ‘Action Cœur de ville’ programmes.

By adopting territorial and partnership-based approaches, local authorities, chambers of commerce and industry, companies and places of learning (schools, technical colleges, universities and training organisations) are participating in these projects and integrating ‘Manufactures de Proximité’ into the socio-economic fabric of their territories.

As an example of public-/private-sector cooperation, the ANCT is encouraging decentralised manufacturing by local actors (makers or independent craftworkers) and the adaptation of the furniture made by them to the specific needs of each local authority, and more specifically for France Services Digital Advisors. Production-oriented third places are the primary targets of this call for projects in association with local authorities, as promoted by the “Mois de la Fabrication Distribuée’ (‘Distributed Manufacturing Month’) initiative.

What is ‘Manufacture de Proximité’?

‘Manufactures de Proximité’ are collaborative, production-oriented third places that coordinate and provide services to a professional community of craftworkers.

They share the principles and values of third places, namely:

  • encouraging the pooling of machines and services
  • coordinating a community of actors to offer them services and promote peer-to-peer cooperation
  • developing training and promoting upskilling
  • developing joint, cooperative projects by promoting collaboration

Frequently asked questions

1. General

What is the timetable for the CEI?

The next two deadlines for filing applications are: midday on 13 January and midday on 3 March 2022.

Are there any other rounds of applications planned for the “Manufactures de territoire” (local third place workshops) CEI after the 3 March deadline?

Nothing is planned for after 3 March for the moment.

Is there a limit on the number of applications selected in each round?

We will be accrediting 100 workshops in total over the three rounds. 20 workshops were already selected in round 1, which means there are 80 places left, which we will divide fairly between rounds 2 and 3, but what counts above all is the quality of the applications.

There is already a workshop that has been accredited in my Department. Do I still have a chance of being selected?

That is not a selection criterion, but as the CEI will only accredit 100 workshops, the territorial distribution of the workshops selected is an important factor. You can apply therefore, but it is true that you will have less of chance of being selected than if your Department is not yet covered.

My Third Place project is in the process of being created. Is the “Manufactures de Proximité” CEI suitable for me? If not, is there another scheme I can apply for?

The “Manufactures de Proximité” CEI is intended to support projects that already exist, with the aim in particular of consolidating their business models. It is particularly about supporting workshops so that they can scale up once they have proved themselves, especially through prototypes, when they want to move up a gear: more machines, developing new, complementary activities to diversify the business model, a change in legal status, expanding the team in charge of the organisation, etc.

If you project does not actually exist yet, this CEI is probably not suited to your needs, but you if you get in touch, we will be able to give you some contacts more suited to your situation. Also, don’t hesitate to contact the coordinators of the regional third place networks.

Can a workshop that already has “Fabrique de territoire” accreditation put in an application in the “Manufactures de proximité” CEI for a project suitable for this CEI?

Having “Fabrique de territoire” accreditation in no way prevents you from making an application in the “Manufactures de proximité” CEI.

Note that the “Fabrique de Territoire” CEI closed in September 2021.

Is it possible to put in an application again if it was refused in a previous round?

You can submit a new application in spite of a refusal in a previous round. We strongly recommend that you rework your application taking into account the feedback provided by the ANCT and that you get in touch and/or maintain your relations with France Tiers-Lieux, which can support you with your application.

Is it possible to put in an application if there are already other third places or fablabs based in my area?

We strongly recommend that applicants keep informed of the other third place projects in the territory and network with these organisations. That way, if other organisations in the same territory are working in sectors or areas connected to yours, you can apply as a consortium, which is something we encourage. If that does not seem relevant to your situation, your application will of course be considered, but do not hesitate to show in it that you are fully aware of the actors in that territory so that we can see how you fit into the existing ecosystem.

Can we contact the 20 workshops selected in the first round?

We encourage and foster exchanges between peers. In fact, for us, the creation of these relations is also a move towards the creation of the future national network of collaborative community workshops. We can put you in touch with certain accredited workshops based on your needs and after getting their agreement. Don’t hesitate to contact us about this.

What is meant by the “entrepreneurial profile” of the project sponsor in the selection criteria?

The CEI selects project sponsors (who can be people or organisations) who are capable of thinking through a model over the long term, in its legal, economic and management aspects. The selection committee does look at how the project is led, then put into operation, as well as at the project sponsor’s entrepreneurial stance, in particular their ability to mobilise the stakeholders and actors in the territory…

To apply, do you have to fill in an online form, or is there a pdf form to download?

You have to enter your SIRET number to access the online form on the “Démarches simplifiées” (Simplified formalities) online platform. There are several fields to fill in and two forms to download and then send back on the same platform: the application form in .doc format and a budget table in .xls format.

2. The engineering programme

Are the engineering programme, and the incubation phase in particular, compulsory?

This “engineering” period presents an important added value in the “Manufactures de proximité” programme; it’s aim is to provide project sponsors with tools, harmonise expectations and allow the sponsors of different projects selected in the CEI to know more about each other. That is why these two periods are compulsory for all the projects selected, and we expect a commitment to them on their part.

When is the seed funding and investment funding allocated to the projects selected?

The projects selected in the CEI go into a project engineering programme once their application has been approved by the selection committee. This programme is divided into two phases: a 4-month long incubation-acceleration programme during which the projects selected are given the tools they need, and then a tailored support programme that lasts for 2 years. It is on completion of the incubation programme that the selection committee meets one last time to decide on the funding to be awarded to the projects selected.

The selection committee will reserve the right not to support a project if it has not met the expectations at the end of the incubation period.

Does the incubation programme take place remotely or face to face?

As long as there is no change in the public health situation, the incubation programme is planned to take place face to face, to give project sponsors the chance to meet and learn by example during this period.

How is the two-year tailored support organised?

Each of the projects selected has a number of days credited to it, which it can use to get help from dedicated experts over the two years. Their needs will be validated in advance by France Tiers-Lieux for the long-term monitoring of the project.

3. Legal support for the application

What kind of organisations can apply for the CEI?

The CEI specifications presents the organisations that are eligible:

« Project sponsors for the workshops applying must be legal entities declared as enterprises or related organisations, within the meaning of European Community law. The following types of entity are eligible:

  • associations and legal persons such as SCICs (collective interest cooperatives), SCOPs (workers’ cooperatives), SASs (simplified joint stock companies), SARLs (private limited companies), etc.
  • EPICs (public industrial and commercial establishments), more generally all types of public establishments, SEMs (semi-public enterprises), SCICs (collective interest cooperatives): local authorities sponsoring or co-sponsoring a collaborative community workshop must have one of these legal statuses
  • GIPs (public interest groupings) and GIEs (economic interest groupings) »

Can a local authority apply to the “Manufactures de proximité” CEI?

No, a local authority cannot apply in its own name. See the legal eligibility conditions.

Is it possible to put in an application as an association and then switch to a SCIC as the project sponsor at a later stage?

Yes. One of the points of the incubation programme is specifically to support you in formalising a permanent legal structure if you do not already have one. You can therefore change your status mid-way through the process. What is important is that you have a clear vision when you put in your application on the legal model you eventually want to adopt.

In the event of an application as a consortium, does one or the organisations have to be the formal applicant?

Yes, one of the members of the consortium has to be the lead applicant and be responsible for the application.

Can an organisation with several sites or branches apply?

“Manufactures” (workshops) spread across several sites in the same territory are eligible for the Manufactures programme, as long as their actions are designed to be complementary across a common territory and the distance between them is explained by the applicant. It is not uncommon to see workshops divided between two or three sites due to certain territorial constraints or opportunities (accessibility, supplies, showcase site, etc.) but also for reasons to do with availability of land or buildings. Sometimes we encounter this kind of setup: a site dedicated to training, a site dedicated to shared workshops and a shop in the town centre, for example.

4. Property management of projects

One of the eligibility criteria is “control of premises”. What does that mean for the applicant?

You must have a dedicated space for your workshop, whether it is rented or owned. This space must be suitable for the activities that you already carry on there and that you intend to develop on site (need to meet standards for receiving the public, for example).

If not, you must have identified an appropriate place and already be in advanced negotiations with a landlord or seller and be able to provide evidence of the steps taken when you apply.

Is it a “plus” to own the premises or be a member of the property company (SCI) that owns it? Is an emphyteutic lease enough?

No, it is not necessarily a plus: the selection committee emphasises the need for long-term control of the premises. For example, a 25-year emphyteutic lease would provide a project with a solid enough base to allow it to amortise its investments and set up a permanent base in a territory.

We will only be able to set up in permanent premises in 2023 or 2024 (whether a dedicated new building, a renovation or availability of rented premises). Can we apply for the CEI anyway?

That will depend on several things:

  • Are your works sufficiently advanced or do you have the permits have been granted by the competent authorities?
  • Have you got a temporary premises to tide you over until 2023/2024?

In any case, the selection committee will take care to select projects that can deploy their activities even if their future premises are not immediately available and which therefore meet the “control of premises” criterion.

5. Project funding

Is it possible to acquire equipment before the end of the incubation period? And the support period?

The seed funding and investment grants are paid to the project after the incubation programme. However, you can incur expenses in the same tax year, before receiving the grant as long as the expenditure does in fact correspond to that considered as eligible (see programme specifications).

Does the 3-year provisional budget for the project have to be balanced?

Yes, we do actually expect to see the projects that apply present balanced 3-year budget forecasts. The idea behinds the “Manufactures” programme is to support the consolidation of the business models so that the projects can stand on their own two feet as soon as possible, gradually and in particular by finding their own sources of income.

Is a very comprehensive and detailed financial plan necessary to apply or is that the aim of the support?

You will be given support on this subject during the incubation programme and also in the tailored support phase if it proves to be necessary. Nevertheless, the grants paid to the projects under the “Manufactures” programme must represent a maximum of 80% of its total budget. it is therefore expected that the candidates will present a complete financing plan stating what funding sources have been identified and whether they are already contractualised or merely forecast.

6. Local links

The application for asks for information about territorial diagnosis. What exactly is expected here?

Territorial anchoring is one of the selection criteria for projects under the CEI. Applicants are therefore asked to provide information on their territorial diagnosis: issues and constraints encountered in the territory, existing stakeholders and ecosystem, partnerships that can meet specific needs, etc.

7. Sectors and activities within ‘Manufactures de Proximité’

Are artists involved in the visual arts eligible? For example plastic artists, designers and illustrators/shared artists’ workshops pooling resources relating to certain techniques: screen printing or engraving or woodworking, for example?

Yes, in principle these sectors fall within the scope of the CEI. Above all the equipment and spaces need to be shared by several professionals and be dedicated to production within the organisation.

Is it important that the tools and the machines in the workshop be digital?

Yes, the aim of the “Manufactures” programme is to explore the porosities permitted between traditional machines and digital machines. More widely, the equipment must make sense, above all, in view of the needs of professionals, artisans and entrepreneurs who make things, the sectors concerned and the territory.

8. National network of ‘Manufactures de Proximité’

How is this new “Manufacture de proximité” network structured in the territory? Is it part of the structure of the “Fabriques de territoire”, with outposts in the regions?

The network will be built up gradually over the course of 2022, in particular via the incubation phases that the projects selected in the 3 rounds of the CEI will be participating in. Time will be set aside to allow the projects to get to know each other, and to allow peer-to-peer exchanges on given subjects. Of course this will be about making the connection between this future network and other existing networks, including the “Fabriques de territoire” network.

Find out more in our video