As the world’s fifth largest economy, centrally located within the European Union, there is strong competition for market share in all French industrial and service sectors. Positioned at the heart of the world’s largest market, France offers a favorable economic environment to potential exporters. The new French government believes in the digital economy, and the high percentage of French students pursuing new technology programs is booming. France is the next big thing in the world economy, creating a buzz around the French start-up ecosystem.
France has a large number of incubators hosting a wide range of start-ups in diverse industry sectors. There are incubators for the tourism industry as well as the energy, aerospace, social media, life sciences, biotechnology, and health industries. For example, the Medecin incubator in the Paris region provides start-ups with access to a large community of hospitals, research facilities, clinics, and pharmaceuticals aiming to attract the most innovative health technologies to the area. The incubator hosts approximately 200 innovative SME firms in their cluster and aims to make the Paris region one of the top three healthcare excellence centers in the world.
In December 2016, it was announced that French billionaire Xavier Niel would help finance the world’s largest start-up space in Paris, called Station F. Facebook and several venture capital firms have already set up shops. The campus will have 3,000 desks with the idea being to have start-ups pay a mere 195 euros for desk space per month with minimal contractual requirements.
Many large firms operating in France are searching for the next new technology to disrupt their industry and investing early on, providing capital, access to experts and office space. Safran, Cisco, Airbus, and GE fall into this category. Many of these firms work with venture capitalists or develop their own investment funds to provide the resources start-ups need to grow and commercialize their products. As a result, entrepreneurs in Europe or elsewhere, have a wide range of options to choose from.
International companies should note that the French government provides extensive support for innovative firms seeking to grow, especially during the early stage. Start-ups have access to a wide range of tax breaks, hiring incentive packages, grants, consultants and competitive financing packages that make it very attractive for entrepreneurs to explore innovative ideas. Start-ups in France have raised $2.7 billion in 2016, compared to the 2015 figure of $1.68 billion.
The French Tech Ticket, sponsored by the French government, is a competitive program to bring more innovative start-ups to France. The competition selects young start-ups in the creation or growth phase from all over the world and provides a financing package for location in one of 41 French incubators for up to one year.
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