The third meeting of the IFA “Russian Investors Club” was held on May 21, 2014 in the presence of Serge Boscher, Managing Director of the Invest in France Agency, and His Excellency Alexander Orlov, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to France. More than forty participants attended the conference in an informal atmosphere at the IFA’s headquarters.
“The potential for Russian investment in France is considerable” declares Serge Boscher
For the third time, the IFA and the Russian Embassy in Paris brought together the Russian business community with a view to furthering the dialogue initiated in 2013 and to supporting the development of Russian investment projects in France. Nine projects were confirmed in 2013, aided by the Invest in France Agency (IFA), including four first-time investments, leading to the creation of 225 jobs. In all, there are now 38 Russian firms doing business in France, 15 more than in 2012.
Central theme: France, a land of innovation
Over the course of the morning, the participants heard about two recent French initiatives. The first, the “Worldwide Innovation Challenge”, was presented by Alain Demarolle, Finance Inspector and a member of the Innovation 2030 Commission, who offered a reminder of “the sectors in which France is keen to make concerted efforts to promote innovation and in which it has longstanding expertise.” The second, “La French Tech”, a government initiative to support France’s digital economy, was presented by David Monteau, the Director of the program. Mr. Monteau discussed the components of the project’s success, as well as mentioning a number of start-ups that had grown into successful companies. He also invited the Russian community to embrace the initiative and develop ties between French and Russian start-ups.
There were two further speakers at the conference: Alexandre Lamy, a lawyer and partner in the law firm Arsis, who presented France’s latest labor market reforms (Employment Act of June 14, 2013), and Thilo Schoenfeld, Head of International Affairs at Aerospace Valley, the world-class innovation cluster for aerospace applications and embedded systems, who explained more about how France’s 71 innovation clusters operate.
The Russian investors who attended gained an insight into France’s potential after hearing from one subsidiary of the Progresstech group, represented by Galya Brovko, CEO France. Progresstech, Russia’s leading provider of intellectual services for the aerospace and air transport sectors, recently decided to set up its first European operations in Toulouse. Ms. Brovko spoke of the support they received from the IFA and Midi Pyrénées Expansion as it entered the French market and expects to create 50 jobs in France over the next three years.
This innovation-focused meeting served to demonstrate “the convergence of French and Russian talent and expertise”, as Mr. Boscher put it. Ambassador Orlov also reiterated the overriding desire for “Franco-Russian cooperation in high-tech and innovation sectors”. The buoyant nature of the meeting reflects the growing number of Russian projects and investments in France.