As an effort launched by Jérôme Lecat, CEO of Scality, as part of the French Tech Initiative, and in partnership with Bpifrance, France Digitale, AFII (Invest in France Agency) and with Tariq Krim, CEO of Jolicloud, this summit builds on the momentum created by President Hollande’s visit to Silicon Valley in February 2014. For two days, French Tech will welcome six leading investors whose groups manage more than $10B in startup investments, and two influential Silicon Valley tech leaders for an unprecedented meeting between US tech investors and their French counterparts.
Because of the importance of technology innovation in fostering growth and employment in France, the French government launched the French Tech Initiative. French Tech refers to all the participants in the French startup ecosystem. The Initiative seeks to accelerate the development of startups and the digital economy in France and to strengthen the international appeal of French Tech. The French Tech Initiative is a joint venture between the private and public sectors and has received €215M as part of the Future Investment Program. It is directed by the French Tech Mission as part of the Secretary of State for Digital Affairs (www.lafrenchtech.com).
The summit will explore joint opportunities to leverage the unique strengths of the French and US startup communities. At a time when engineers are scarce in California, and companies need to look beyond Silicon Valley to find strong R&D, France represents a great opportunity. It has a large community of well‐trained and innovative engineers and a cost‐basis that is approximately 50% of Silicon Valley.
Conversely, French startups, once they have a proven product, need to be present in key technology markets, particularly in the US. To this end, attracting American investors is a critical requirement. Criteo, Talend, and Scality succeeded in leveraging US technology and capital markets and as a result, each expanded their French teams dramatically based on the strong business growth that resulted from access to the US market.
Nevertheless, some American investors avoid French startups because of the persistence of business stereotypes. While these clichés are outmoded, they have contributed to a deficit of foreign capital available to French startups.
The French Tech has unique advantages:some of the world’s best and most innovative engineers, a culture that promotes company loyalty and staff longevity; a dynamic pool of entrepreneurs and talented staff; a network of experienced business angels and venture capital investors; government assistance through a research tax credit; and Bpifrance, which injects nearly 1 billion Euros per year into the digital economy in the form of grants, low‐rate loans, and investment capital to make the best use of public resources.
The entrepreneurs, investors, and institutions involved in this summit have set a goal to increase the confidence of American investors in the French startup community by engaging in dialogue and demonstrating that France has the means and the ambition to be a fertile ground for startups and innovation.
American investors will meet with leading French startups and with members of the French government at France Digitale Day on June 11th. On June 12th they will visit Ecole 42 with Xavier Niel, before going to meet startups in the Sentier neighborhood and visiting the Futur en Seine exhibition.
Jérôme Lecat, who launched this initiative, is founder and CEO of Scality, a leader in petabyte‐scale software defined storage for the enterprise and the Cloud, with headquarters in Silicon Valley and R&D France.