Paris: a hotbed of innovation

Since President Macron came to power pledging to “overhaul the economy”, the number of businesses being created has surged, reaching almost 809,000 over the past 12 months. This is up 45% compared with the year before. According to Crunchbase, 425 deals totalling $4.4bn (12% of total funding in Europe) were completed in France in 2019, just behind Germany (444 deals adding up to $6.7bn or 18%). Furthermore, in the first half of 2019, French startups raised a record €2.8bn, up 43% on the previous year – this being, in part, attributed to a seismic shift in cultural attitudes towards work and entrepreneurship.

At True we source innovation from all over the world; however, we are just as interested in innovation hubs closer to home as we are in the more exotic locations such as Silicon Valley and Bangalore. For that reason, we recently signed a partnership with Station F.

The brainchild of Xavier Niel, a French billionaire businessman best known for founding Free Mobile, Station F is the world’s largest startup facility, with over 1,000 startups under its roof, over 30 programmes to help build and support those businesses, 40 venture capital funds and over 600 events per year. Niel identified that the French ecosystem had many startups, investors and innovation programmes, but they were all very dispersed: bringing them together would be more impactful, particularly for early-stage businesses which could benefit from support in terms of skills, experience and resources.

True’s extended links into Paris have the dual aim of sourcing the most interesting and dynamic business from an investment perspective, and also to help augment the innovation strategies of our global Partners and Private Equity portfolio companies. Here we take a look at why Paris has become a hotbed of technology innovation and a rich source of innovation.

  1. New heights of startup funding

As part of a President-led initiative, institutional investors are committed to pumping over €6 billion into the French start-up ecosystem. This represents a step-change in the support and funding available to startups to drive their growth and technological development, while simultaneously creating thousands of future-facing jobs.

International venture capital funding has also begun to target the French startup ecosystem as the depth and breadth of technical capabilities within France is becoming increasingly understood.


  1. A wealth of available talent

France benefits from a world-class higher education system and is home to one million engineers, the largest number in Europe. The opportunities for this highly skilled, highly motivated pool of potential entrepreneurs have multiplied.


  1. Working for a French startup has never been easier

In 2019, the French government announced a new French Tech Visa for employees, with the aim of fast-tracking the hiring of international talent for local startups. By reducing the length of time to bring top external talent into French startups, a critical barrier to growth momentum has been removed. Moreover, talent pools will become more diverse with an international mindset enabling startups to enhance prospects of competing on a global scale.


  1. A vision for a nation of unicorns

Finally, there is demonstrable political will, led by the Secretary of State for the Digital Economy, to make Paris the leading tech destination in Europe, with a headline target to create 25 unicorns by 2025. Progress is good, and momentum is building, following the successes of Meero, Doctolib, Deezer, and Veepee.


We are excited to join and support this movement for the benefit of the startup ecosystem and all our stakeholders. Allons-y!

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23 January 2020