France is leading the pack when it comes to tech startups. Globally recognized as a world leader in terms of innovative new technology, France is proving that the ‘French touch’ is a huge advantage when it comes to starting a tech-focused company. Discover what French Tech is all about!
French companies dominated Deloitte’s 2016 Technology Fast 500 EMEA, a list of the fastest-growing technology companies in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In fact, France had more representation on the list than any other country, with an impressive 94 French companies included in its rankings. So how is France achieving this, and what lessons can we learn?
So, what is ‘la French Tech’?
In 2013, the French government launched a publicly funded initiative to support and accelerate French startups, and to promote them under a single brand across France and the rest of the world. Voilà, the label ‘la French Tech’ was born.
According to the government website, the term refers to “everyone who works for a startup in France or for a French startup abroad who is committed to the growth of startups and to their international prosperity”. This includes entrepreneurs, investors, engineers, designers, developers, incubators and research institutions.
The result of these entrepreneur-friendly policies? At this year’s CES, an annual trade show which unveils new products and technologies, 233 French startups were present, making France the third most represented country overall after the USA and China. Even more notable: a third of the companies at Eureka Park, which is the hall dedicated to hardware startups, were French.
French Tech: taking over the world
Since 2013, €200 million of public funds have been invested in business incubators and accelerator programs throughout France. And the government have their eyes on the rest of globe too: 22 cities around the world are now home to French Tech hubs – government-accredited entrepreneurial ecosystems. These networks aim to expand French Tech internationally. Young French technology companies are making the most of these networks and internationalising quickly. BlaBlaCar– a true French Tech success story, is in 22 countries around the world.
Similarly, the government is trying to attract foreign entrepreneurs to France via a ‘Passeport Talent’ scheme. The scheme includes the French Tech Ticket: a 12-month seed accelerator program for international entrepreneurs looking to build a startup in Europe; and the recently launched French Tech Visa: a four-year visa for tech startup founders, talented tech employees, and tech investors.
France is renowned for its top engineering schools, and has historically always been strong at producing maths and science graduates, but the boom in French Tech isn’t solely down to this. Nicholas Brusson, chief executive of BlaBlaCar believes it’s the result of “almost 20 years of a startup culture. Now you really have an ecosystem. While the first generation of companies were very French, now you have a generation that thinks global from day one. The main change is the level of ambition.” Business schools have also clearly expressed their interest in helping this new generation develop its entrepreneurial mindset. With a clear focus on the 4 main pillars of entrepreneurship (business development, new venture creation, family business and social entrepreneurship), the Global Entrepreneurship Program is a perfect example of a program aiming to help budding entrepreneurs transform their ideas into tangible projects.
The future is French
2016 was a significant year for French Tech– France now has the most investment deals in Europe, with €1.5 billion invested in French Tech companies in 2016, a massive 90% increase from 2014.
John Chambers, Executive Chairman of Cisco, a multinational technology conglomerate, certainly believes the future of tech is French, telling Europe 1: “I believe in this country. France is on the point of profoundly transforming itself.”
The next step in French Tech’s world domination? This year’s SXSW festival. Eighteen French Tech startups have been chosen to attend the prestigious event in Austin, USA, which showcases new music, film and emerging interactive technology.
Who knows, tomorrow’s French Tech entrepreneurs may be among the students of the Global Entrepreneurship Program. With current subjects including Entrepreneurship, New Venture Creation & Strategy and European Business experience, they are well-placed to be the next big thing in French Tech.
A government committed to startups… a dynamic tech culture with momentum… and a creative and ambitious mindset that prioritises a global view. It’s easy to see why French Tech is enjoying so much success!