Start-up nation

Start-up nation

French innovation.png

The French finance ministry is bullishly establishing a $13 billion investment fund to finance disruptive technology innovations. The new vehicle will be funded with estimated proceeds of around $2 billion from state sales of energy firm Engie and automaker Renault, plus $11 billion in the form of a loan from holdings in utility EDF and aerospace and transportation group Thales.

Cash will also come onstream from disposals of state stakes in the likes of airport operator ADP, aerospace outfit Airbus, and telecoms company Orange, worth some $120 billion.

Public investment bank Bpifrance fund will manage the fund – whose capital will remain untouched – which could generate annual revenues of as much as $365 million for investment in innovative technologies.

The move fits with Emmanuel Macron’s capitalistic vision of turning France into a start-up nation and wants the state to act as an enabler for innovators and entrepreneurs. "Everywhere, women and men want to innovate,” he says. “France is in the middle of becoming a nation of start-ups.”

Paris now claims the biggest start-up campus in the world with the launch last year of the Station F innovation hub. And the European Commission last year awarded its 2017 European Capital of Innovation prize of €1 million to the city.

And French new business starts jumped 17% year-on-year in the three months to December, with transport, real estate and business support the booming segments, according to statistics agency INSEE.

Image: Bpifrance

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