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Mythbuster: ‘France behind with new technology’

Fact or fake? In this regular column we look at the ‘truths’ that everyone ‘knows’ about France

21 February 2018

President Macron’s aim for France to be a “leader for hyper-innovation” seems to be on track with French start-ups being outnumbered only by the  US at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Although there were doubts about the worth of many of them – “up for beauty, not innovation, prizes” – it was recognised that La French Tech created a buzz.

Supporting this mood is the naming of John Chambers, former chairman of networking and IT leaders Cisco, as ambassador for La French Tech.

Meanwhile, Microsoft will build four data storage centres in France and is mentoring start-ups at the world’s biggest start-up hub, Station F in Paris.

Set up by telecoms billionaire Xavier Niel, the hub had more applications in 2017 from US and UK start-ups than any other countries. It has an office to explain laws on patents... and social security.

Europe’s biggest software firm SAP is funding French start-ups with €2billion and Google is opening “a centre of theoretical research in artificial intelligence” with its chief executive calling France the “ideal place”.

An investor survey said France, Israel and the US “lead in talent” where France has “outstanding strengths” in artificial intelligence, biotech and the Inter­net of Things. In 2017 it hit a new record for venture capital funds with €3bn – up 500% on 2013. Invest­ors were back after seeing France as not “an attractive investment environment”.

US firms here see a ‘Macron effect’ and 72% say they have a positive view of the future.

But while Mr Macron is fuelling optimism, it was President Hollande who set up new visas for start-up business owners.

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