Quantcast
Connect with us

Could Macron and Brexit make Paris the capital of European tech?

Published

on

French President Emmanuel Macron’s vow to make France a ‘start-up nation’ amid the uncertainty over Brexitis raising the question of whether Paris could supplant London as the capital of European tech.

Since his election, Macron has wooed tech entrepreneurs with a string of initiatives in the form of lavish tax breaks, subsides, and credits for research. In March 2018, he promised to invest €1.5 billion into artificial intelligence research through 2022.

ADVERTISEMENT

Some of these initiatives, in addition to Macron’s dynamism, have lured British tech companies who are looking to gain a foothold in Europe.

“It made sense to have a European base,” said Cedric Jones*, a Briton who recently launched a start-up at Station F, the cavernous old train station that is now home to the world’s largest start-up campus. “If I’m going to make waves in continental Europe… I wanted to get here before Brexit happened.”

Jones is among dozens of foreign entrepreneurs who have recently launched their start-up at Station F, whose 3,000 desk hub has seen spiralling applications from English-speaking nationals in the last two years.

Some cite political woes back home, the burgeoning French tech sector, or are inspired by Macron’s bid to make Paris the innovation heart of Europe.

“There’s an air of optimism and a can-do spirit in France that I feel we’ve lost somewhat in the US,” said Mark Heath, a New Yorker, who stayed on in France to launch a start-up after studying at INSEAD in 2017.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Macron effect

Much of the investment in French tech predates Macron’s reforms. The state investment bank Bpifrance, launched by former French president François Hollande in 2013, has been widely credited with developing the sector. Hollande also set up new foreign visas for start-up entrepreneurs.

But Zahir Bouchaary, a Briton who works out of Station F, credits Macron with injecting dynamism into the sector.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Macron has installed a [start-up] mentality within the French ecosystem itself,” said Bouchaary, adding that it has become much easier to do business in France in the last few years.

“French customers are a lot more willing to work with start-ups than they were before,” said Bouchaary. “France was a very conservative country and our clients were used to working with big old-fashioned companies that have been around for a while. For the past few years they’ve opened up a lot more to working with younger companies and seem to take more risks than they did before.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Jones agreed that Macron was “the single variable”. “When he [Macron] goes, the dynamism will go too. I absolutely would not expect that to remain the case if he’s not president.”

However, although Macron has moved to ease labour laws, Jones said that navigating the country’s labyrinthine bureaucracy in French remained “very burdensome”, and that it was far easier to build a business in the UK. “Whether it’s from a tax perspective or from a legal perspective it’s just so much more complicated.”

UK tech ‘resilient’

ADVERTISEMENT

The tech scene in London appears to be just as vibrant as ever, explained Albin Serviant, president of Frenchtech in London, who said many UK-based tech entrepreneurs are adopting a “wait and see” approach to Brexit.

“The UK ecosystem is quite resilient,” said Serviant.

“In the first quarter of 2019, there were about €2 billion invested in tech in London. That’s compared to 1.5 billion last year, which is plus 30 percent. And that’s twice as much as France – which invested 1 billion. France is catching up very fast but the investment money is still flowing in the UK,” he added.

Serviant cited London’s business-friendly ecosystem and international talent pool as reasons for why London remains the capital of the European tech sector.

ADVERTISEMENT

Nonetheless Serviant cautioned against the effects that a hard Brexit would have on the tech sector in the UK.

“‘If Brexit happens in a bad way and if people like me and other entrepreneurs have to leave, obviously that’s very bad for the UK because what makes it very different is the international DNA of London.”

Hard Brexit would not just damage the UK tech sector but would also pose challenges for British developers, who post-Brexit may need a carte de séjour to work in the country, looking to find work in France.

Sarah Pedroza, co managing director of Hello Tomorrow technologies, a Paris-based startup NGO, said that if she had to choose between hiring a British national and an EU citizen with the same skillset, she would opt for an EU citizen because there would be less paperwork involved.

ADVERTISEMENT

Brexit aside, others suggest that France is snapping at the UK’s technological heels.

“I do think France has the potential under Macron to close the gap with the UK,” said Jones.

“The single biggest factor in what’s going on for France is that France is developing a sense of confidence in itself, in its start-up scene, as a tech hub, that’s being helped by France and that’s also being helped by Brexit.”


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Ukraine begged Trump to raise issue of their captive sailors with Putin — he didn’t and Russia state TV gloated

Published

on

The ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump is being painted by Congress and the press against the backdrop of the ongoing war between Russia and the Ukraine.

As more and more sworn deposition transcripts are released, researchers are able to link up the testimony of events with real-time reactions, giving us a remarkable insight into the implications of foreign policy decisions.

Investigative journalist Julia Davis flagged one key part of testimony in the transcript released of the deposition by Ukraine embassy political officer David Holmes.

The transcript reveals Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the former federal prosecutor who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, interviewing Holmes about Ukraine's desperation to set up a meeting with Trump.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

‘Something nefarious going on’: Obama deputy chief of staff doesn’t buy White House claims on Trump’s health

Published

on

The deputy chief of staff for operations in the Obama administration broke down on Monday why the White House claims on President Donald Trump's surprise Saturday visit to Walter Reed Hospital.

Jim Messina, who also was the campaign manager for Barack Obama's 2012 re-election campaign, was interviewed Monday on MSNBC's "The Last Word" by anchor Lawrence O'Donnell.

O'Donnell noted the note the White House physician sent to White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham:

[caption id="attachment_1563602" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Memorandum from Dr. Sean Conley to Stephanie Grisham.[/caption]

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Trump doctor denies the president underwent any ‘neurologic evaluations’ at Walter Reed Hospital

Published

on

The physician to the president claimed that President Donald Trump did not undergo "neurologic" evaluations during a surprise visit to Walter Reed Hospital.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham released a picture of a memorandum from Dr. Sean Conley, which was printed on "Office of the Press Secretary" letterhead.

The memo was sent to Grisham.

On Saturday, Grisham had claimed the purpose of the visit was to conduct a "partial" physical. Dr. Conley referred to the visit as an "interim check up."

Continue Reading
 
 
Help Raw Story Uncover Injustice. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1 and go ad-free.
close-image