In this week’s edition of PYMNTS’ Weekly Tech Center Roundup, we find ourselves back in Europe, where Brexit is all anyone can talk about. But we are heading to France, where the country’s capital city is making a name for itself as a booming tech center.
Before we jump into the post, here are a few quick facts about Paris and its tech scene:
- Paris has an estimated population of 2,241,346.
- The city’s GDP per capita was $70,760 in 2014, making it one of the top 10 riches cities in the world and one of the most economically powerful cities in Europe.
- Last year, Paris beat out Berlin in the European Digital City Index, ranking as the sixth best city for startups.
- The Parisian region is estimated to have more than 22,000 startups, employing upwards of 135,000 people.
- Since 2005, startups in Paris have attracted about €2.36 billion in total investment.
- The digital technology sector accounts for roughly 5.5 percent of France’s GDP.
- A recent study from McKinsey found that France is expected to boost the digital technology share of its GDP by €100 billion by 2020.
- Twenty-nine of the companies listed on the Fortune Global 500 are headquartered in Paris.
A New Brexit Opportunity
Paris is known for its beauty, luxury goods, fine art and delicious cuisine, as well as being a place for love and romance to flourish. But over the last five years, the city has also gained attention for the transformation of its entrepreneurial environment.
With a startup-friendly government and the acceleration of big French-based companies, such as BlaBlaCar (ridesharing service) and Ingenico Group (payments technology company), the country may be well on its way to standing as a top tech center in Europe.
At the same time, what has long been considered Europe’s “hotbed” for tech innovation and entrepreneurship — the U.K. — is dealing with the fallout of its decision to exit the European Union. As the uncertainty of the Brexit aftermath continues to mount, other European cities are jumping at the chance to lure startups and tech companies away from London.
Paris is no exception.
The Wall Street Journal reported just this week that government officials and bankers gathered in Paris to help promote the city as the next potential financial capital for Europe. Both public and private entities joined together at the annual conference of Paris Europlace to support the push for France to be seen as a financial center and the hope that, in the wake of the U.K. referendum, more financial services will be drawn to the French capital city.
“Of course, we should be graceful. But we mustn’t be naive: We are in competition,” Socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls said during the event. “We want Paris to be the premier financial market of Europe.”
As one of Europe’s leading economic areas with an already strong financial marketplace, the globally connected city may just be a top destination for tech companies looking to relocate out of the U.K.
The Next Startup Capital
Lovers and travelers may not be the only ones flocking to Paris.
As home to roughly 100 business incubators, the region has set itself apart for its support of enterprise endeavors. The city is home to Europe’s largest incubator, Le Cargo, and in Jan. 2017, it will open the world’s largest incubator, the forthcoming 30,000 sq. m. Halle Freyssinet, the country’s government site stated. The new incubator is expected to accommodate up to 1,000 startups and create up to 4,000 jobs.
In an effort to help establish a way to bring together the city’s booming tech scene, the inaugural Viva Technology Paris (Viva Tech) event launched last week to help put Paris on the map as a global tech and innovation center. The three-day conference is said to have featured 300 seminars, hosted 5,000 participating startups and brought in 45,000 visitors, Campaign reported.
One of the most talked about parts of the event was the Publicis90 competition to award funding, support and mentorships to startups and entrepreneurs. The global startup initiative was created to celebrate the 90th anniversary of marketing and communications giant Publicis Groupe.
From the more than 3,500 submissions received, which came from both companies and individuals across 141 countries, 90 startups or scale-ups were selected and will be awarded between €10,000 and €500,000 in funding, while also receiving additional services from Publicis.
One Paris-based startup, Moodstocks, also celebrated big news this week.
The machine-learning company was snapped up by Google to help the tech giant boost its artificial intelligence capabilities. The image recognition startup develops technology for mobile devices that allow them to be turned into smart sensors.
“After introducing on-device image recognition in 2012, we've been working on extending our reach to object recognition for the past 2.5 years, using deep learning-based approaches,” the company said in a statement on its website.
The agreement to join Google will help Moodstocks’ work to be deployed at scale, with the deal expected to be finalized over the coming weeks.