Since May 2012, the French President Mr. François Hollande and his government have made supporting innovation and start-ups in France a priority. “We want to make use of digital technology to promote growth, employment and regional equality”, said Prime Minister Mr. Jean-Marc Ayrault at the government’s first digital seminar on February 28, 2013.
As such, a series of initiatives has been introduced to respond to issues relating to financing and services available to the digital ecosystem in France.
A new deal for innovation in France
In November 2012, the “National Pact for Competitiveness, Growth and Employment” laid the foundations for this new approach by introducing an innovation tax credit and establishing a state innovation fund. An entrepreneurship round table, the “Assises de l’entrepreneuriat”, which brought together 300 key figures from the business world, went on to confirm these resolutions: among 44 tangible proposals put forward, it was decided that entrepreneurs whose businesses had failed should be given a second chance and that the process of developing start-ups with “innovative new company” status (jeune entreprise innovante – JEI) should be simplified.
Numerous reforms have been made to further open up France’s ecosystems to foreign talent. For example, the “Talent Passport” will make it easier for qualified professionals to come and work in France. Simplified procedures will enable them to obtain a work permit and gain access to the resources needed to establish themselves in France. The “Talent Passport” is aimed at socio-professional categories in line with the needs of France’s economy, including highly qualified employees, investors, recent graduates and researchers. The government hopes to issue 10,000 “Talent Passports” every year.
In the same vein as the “Worldwide Innovation Challenge” (Concours Mondial de l’Innovation), the “La French Tech” initiative, backed by Ms. Fleur Pellerin, Minister Delegate with responsibility for SMEs, Innovation and the Digital Economy, forms part of this range of measures to promote innovation and France’s digital ecosystem.
The goal of “La French Tech” is to put France firmly on the world map of leading digital nations as “the Start-Up Republic”. The aim is to foster the emergence of global champions that can grow from a handful of employees to a workforce of thousands in just a few years. France needs to back this collective dynamic to promote the development of ecosystems for digital start-ups and high-growth digital companies.
The “La French Tech” initiative brings together France’s most dynamic digital ecosystems and includes an “acceleration” component of €200 million to foster start-up growth.
The founding step of “La French Tech” will involve issuing “French Tech Digital Cities” accreditation to form a “French national team” representing the highest level of potential growth and international investment attractiveness. The goal then is to stimulate growth in these ecosystems both in France and abroad.
To this end, “La French Tech” will open its first two hubs in 2014 in the United States (in San Francisco and Boston). The San Francisco hub has already made waves by offering a great image of this new collective dynamic: the French President’s embrace with Mr. Carlos Diaz, one of the leaders of the “Pigeons” movement of eager young entrepreneurs, who declared “He said exactly what needed to be said and what we wanted to hear!”
Moreover, “La French Tech” has enjoyed a high profile both in France and internationally since the end of 2013 thanks to its strong presence at key events in the sector. For example, in the last few weeks, Ms. Pellerin has promoted the initiative’s aims at the Le Web’13 conference in Paris (December 2013), the CES in Las Vegas (January 2014) and, more recently, the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona – all key exhibitions in the digital field. The “La French Tech” evenings held at these events were an opportunity to present the latest in French innovation, and enable talented French and foreign individuals to meet, chat and think about new partnerships.
In 2014, “La French Tech” is attending SXSW in Austin in March and will partner with TR35 France (for French innovators under 35 years old) organized by the MIT Technology Review and the Hello Tomorrow Challenge.
The “La French Tech” quest to promote innovation à la française can look forward to a bright future!