This text is a part of a sequence taking a deep-dive into the French tech ecosystem. For extra, learn the latest Sifted Intelligence report.
Distinctive technical expertise is certainly one of France’s largest strengths — and that should change.
France has been betting rather a lot on homegrown brains in science-based fields like AI, robotics, and biotech, which ought to give it a competitive advantage in the world of deep tech.
However the reality is that, in keeping with founders, there’s solely to this point the ecosystem can go together with good scientists.
The unbalanced expertise pool in France, leaning an excessive amount of within the course of science and never sufficient in the direction of enterprise expertise, is seen as one of many nation’s development constraints.
France is weaker in branding and product advertising and marketing. It’s additionally missing people who’ve skilled this hyper scaling up to now and aren’t confronted with it for the primary time, a chicken-and-egg conundrum for any rising ecosystem.
“We lack people who have expertise, big scale and which can be inventive and have labored in a giant firm originally, like Snapchat workers, Instagram workers,” says Yubo’s Sacha Lazimi. “The engineering half is robust, however in inventive, advertising and marketing and branding, we don’t have that many individuals.”
He provides that one draw back of the nation’s tight-knit and collaborative neighborhood is a hesitance to poach expertise from home rivals, main the corporate to rent extra from international nations or remotely.
Adjustments are already being carried out to encourage numerous worldwide expertise to return to France.
Key adjustments in recent times embody eliminating the wealth tax exterior of property, introducing a flat tax on dividends, simplifying the method of winding down companies and introducing a particular tech visa for non-EU startups, founders and traders.
In 2020, France modified its stock-options guidelines to develop the present fiscally advantageous scheme (so-called “BPSCE”) to international companies with workers based mostly in France.
The change got here as entrepreneurs throughout Europe, in a bid to assist startups appeal to expertise on the worldwide stage, rallied behind the “Not Elective” marketing campaign for a brand new pan-European inventory choices framework. For startups, enticing inventory choices schemes are sometimes a solution to compete with the extra beneficiant salaries of larger corporations to rent the most effective expertise.
“The French authorities has created a extra pro-business atmosphere and labored laborious to simplify the visa course of for foreigners,” says Roxanne Varza, the director of Paris startups campus Station F. “Whereas the visa is simpler to acquire, arriving out of the country is rarely simple. That is maybe the place extra will be finished to enhance the expertise.”
The everlasting adjustments wrought by the pandemic might additionally play into France’s palms. The pressured transition to distant work has modified how some corporations take a look at expertise acquisition and opened up their geographic horizons.
“Just lately we’ve began to see an enormous inflow of world tech expertise, together with skilled entrepreneurs leaving a number of the extra mature ecosystems like Silicon Valley, New York and London,” says Varza. “Right this moment, the Station F neighborhood is one-third worldwide, with the US, China, Morocco and South Korea amongst the most effective represented nations on campus.”
Pierre-François Thaler, chief government of EcoVadis, says that due to Europe’s vibrant ‘tech for good’ ecosystem he sees a rising variety of North Individuals who now need to work for European corporations, together with in France, and that the French diaspora is extra eager to return dwelling, partly to deploy their skills fixing social and environmental issues.
A stronger expertise pool is prone to speed up the event of tech hubs throughout France too, away from the capital metropolis.
“[Already] the expansion of the French ecosystem has been in cities all throughout France: Bordeaux, Marseille, Lile, Nantes,” says Paul-François Fournier of state-backed investor Bpifrance. “Out of 4,000 startups a yr, 25% of them usually are not in Paris. Startups have entry to expertise from all around the nation. This is without doubt one of the key property of the French ecosystem: it is not going to stay on a single entrance of Paris”.