France moves to become a nation of ‘large tech companies’

Le Maire also recalled the government's ambition for 2025 to have 25 French “unicorns” – unlisted startups valued at a minimum of €1 billion. France currently has 12 unicorns, including car-pooling company Blablacar, music streaming service Deezer and doctor’s appointment company Doctolib. EPA-EFE/HOLLIE ADAMS / POOL [EPA-EFE/HOLLIE ADAMS]

“We were a start-up nation, we are going to become a nation of large technology companies,” Economy Minister Bruno le Maire told a conference on Monday (7 June), adding that “France has a vocation to be one of the nations writing the 21st century”. EURACTIV France reports.

The conference, on Financing the Fourth Industrial Revolution, brought together 21 institutional investors who are committed to releasing €6 billion by the end of 2022 for “late stage” investment funds and “global tech” listed shares established in France.

The initiative is based on a report from January last year, in which economist Philippe Tibi urged the state to massively invest in the tech of the future to ensure French sovereignty and prosperity.

After one year and a half, Le Maire announced that the partner investors have already committed to investing more than €3.5 billion, mostly in the form of venture capital.

In a study published last week, the European Central Bank (ECB) deplored the EU’s lagging investment in technology companies, pointing to the limited availability of venture capital and private investment.

Of the initial €20 billion target, which also includes third-party investors, the total funds already amount to €18 billion. Le Maire even proposed on Monday to raise the target to €30 billion.

Le Maire also recalled the government’s ambition for 2025 to have 25 French “unicorns” – unlisted startups valued at a minimum of €1 billion.

France currently has 12 unicorns, including car-pooling company Blablacar, music streaming service Deezer and doctor’s appointment company Doctolib.

“France can do more than it thinks it can,” said Le Maire on Monday.

EU faces €5-10 billion investment gap on AI and blockchain – report

The EU is not investing enough in artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain to keep up with the US and China and it should start investing €5-10 billion each year but also strengthen its eco-systems in order to be competitive, a report said.

France: Europe’s most financially attractive country

The meeting took place a few hours after Ernst&Young (EY) published it “Barometer 2021 on the attractiveness of France,” which ranked France as the first European country in terms of international investments in 2020.

With the reception of 985 investment projects on its territory, France came in first for the second consecutive year, ahead of the UK and Germany.

“I see this as validation of [our] economic and fiscal policy,” Le Maire said.

The survey also revealed that 58% of executives believe France can become a world leader in greening within five years and plans for the finance sector are up 23% in the wake of Brexit.

Le Maire also took the opportunity to return to the global agreement reached at the G7 summit, which provides for a minimum tax rate of 15% for multinationals.

While he admitted that US President Joe Biden had “steered” the negotiations, he nevertheless emphasised that France had been behind the initiative “from day one”.

[Edited by Frédéric Simon]

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