French tech billionaire sees Paris rivaling Silicon Valley

  • News
  • Monday, 03 Jul 2017

FRENCH billionaire entrepreneur Xavier Niel aims to put Paris on par with Silicon Valley for technology investment and innovation and has built a gleaming startup incubator, Station F, in the city to host those ambitions.

“People think in France, it’s complicated and tough to create startups and become successful,” Niel said.

“It’s why we need this kind of initiative, to create cases which can help our country to become the biggest country for tech in the world. We hope we’ll have the next Facebook here.”

Niel’s push to encourage entrepreneurs echoes supportive talk from France’s newly elected president, who has called to make the country “a startup nation”.

President Emmanuel Macron encouraged his citizens to “shake things up and make your country change. France has to be a country where anyone can be successful”.

One of France’s richest people, Niel wants to attract thousands of technology entrepreneurs, investors and inventors to his 3,000 desks for rent in the complex, a 34,000 square metre former freight station he spent 250 million euros to transform into a startup campus, near the Seine.

Companies including Facebook Inc, Microsoft Corp and video-game designer Ubisoft Entertainment SA, as well as venture-capital firms including Daphni and Ventech, have vowed to make staff available at the campus to advise and accompany entrepreneurs.

Britain’s exit from the European Union may give him an opportunity to boost Paris’ profile on the global tech scene. — Bloomberg

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