President wants France to be a "land of innovation"

Attractiveness/Operation “Paris French Tech Ticket” – Speech by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic (excerpts)

Paris, 2 March 2016


This programme benefits 50 young entrepreneurs, who are here and who have already presented some of their innovations to us. I’ll begin by expressing my gratitude to you: thank you for having confidence in France.

This country, France, welcomes you, and welcomes you for what you’re going to bring to enhance it – I’ve already glimpsed this: for example, a robotics start-up company which is going to transform the way wheelchairs work and which, in a few months, a few years, is going to change the lives of many of our fellow citizens here and maybe throughout the world; homes constructed with 3D print-outs, which can not only change the way flats and houses are built, but also come up with solutions for refugees very quickly; there’s also a water treatment start-up which was presented to me, which is going to revolutionize the industrial world and perhaps even the world of sanitation.

There are so many other projects you’re taking forward which are both useful to France, where you’ll be setting up, and are also – as has been said – going to advance a global ambition.

You come from many countries: Canada, the United States, India, Japan, China, Lebanon, Tunisia, Brazil, the United Kingdom – yes, even the United Kingdom – and some projects are being developed by international teams. For example, a young Chinese woman and a young Japanese man are working together on a digital marketing project, and two men from Italy and one from Lebanon are developing a digital app to support young students in their academic careers.

Through all these projects, all that they signify, we also want to get across a message together. We want France to be a land of innovation and a land of welcome. Welcome, because it’s part of our tradition, because in France we’ve always wanted women and men who wish to create, be entrepreneurs and innovate to be here in a country of culture and creativity. And we want to be a land of innovation, where tomorrow’s world is invented. Finally, we want young people, young people of the world but also France’s young people, to play their full role. (…)

Since 2012, France has opted for a strategy based on innovation. Never have so many start-ups been created in our country. Every year 1,500 are established in Paris alone; the city has the most start-up incubators in Europe. Last year, the turnover of French start-ups increased by 50%; never has so much capital been invested in innovation in France as last year.

Twelve French start-ups fundraised more than €25 million in 2015, and four fundraised over €100 million. (…)

Nor have French start-ups ever become globalized as quickly, because we’re moving up a gear and certain French start-ups have acquired a global reputation in the space of a few years. I can’t list them all. Included are Blablacar and Deezer, but there are many others too: Criteo, Withings and Parrot have gained an international dimension.

One hundred and twenty start-ups accompanied [Economy] Minister Emmanuel Macron to Las Vegas. (…)

We also wanted to spread innovation. Of course, Paris is the capital city and it, too, competes globally. But we wanted there to be 13 major French Tech cities, so labelling has been planned. In France, labelling is about criteria, selection and competition, and so we put to a number of cities the challenge: are you able to offer a so-called ecosystem for businesses? Can start-ups develop? We were able to accept 13. (…) So here you’ve got a capacity, through 13 major cities, to develop innovation.

We also wanted to put financing in place. The Banque publique d’investissement [French Public Investment Bank] has set up – and I thank it – a €200-million fund and grants designed to pay for start-ups to get under way, irrespective of nationality. French Tech also makes active efforts to make our start-ups known internationally, with €15 million to promote them.

It isn’t the state that manages the French Tech initiative, it’s really promoted by all those involved in innovation. To encourage the development of innovative companies, we do admittedly have especially dynamic fiscal instruments, and I thank our friends who are familiar with these instruments and have highlighted them, because they’re probably the most powerful in Europe and maybe the world – particularly the R&D tax credit. As was rightly pointed out, we wanted to extend the R&D tax credit to include innovation, all forms of innovation, not only technological innovations but also design and everything which contributes to creativity. (…)./.

Published on 11/03/2016

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