The French tech sector presented its ambitious plans to stay atop the tech industry for years to come in front of European tech stakeholders at France Digital Day on Wednesday (22 September) in Paris. EURACTIV France reports.
Everyone was smiling at this 10th edition of France Digital Day, organised by the France Digitale association, representing more than 1,800 French digital entrepreneurs and investors.
French startup Sorare, which has developed a digital card exchange game based on blockchain, and French online marketplace specialist Mirakl announced the day before that they had raised $555 million – a record for French tech – and $473 million, respectively.
“In 48 hours, we have done as much [in fundraising] as in the whole of 2015”, said France’s Digital Minister Cédric O, who also attended the event.
The government had previously indicated that by 2025 it aimed to have 25 “unicorns”, defined as unlisted startups valued at at least one billion euros.
“We’re at 18 or 19,” said O, before immediately adding: “That’s not the point anymore. We can set ourselves the goal that by 2025 we will see the first French tech company enter the CAC 40.”
To maintain the strong growth of French digital players, O called for creating more large venture capital funds in Europe, which would provide startups with financing at a very early stage in their development.
O also called for the strengthening of the so-called Tibi initiative, which has made it possible to raise over €18 billion in a series of funds to support French digital startups in their development, and above all, to prevent them from having to seek financing outside Europe.
But you also have to attract talent and keep them, Maya Noël, Deputy Director of France Digitale, told EURACTIV.
“What does it mean to attract talent? It means training them because we don’t have enough in France,” adding that training is essential because there is intense global competition.
“What’s happening right now is that there are tons of job offers available,” Alice Baleton, marketing head at talent recruitment startup CleverConnect, told EURACTIV.
According to her, the surge in jobs can be attributed to “the recovery” and the additional needs for a sector that is doing rather well, but also a “huge turnover linked to a delay effect on people who should have moved before but did not for safety reasons during the lockdown.”
On top of that, “many were caught up in a great deal of soul-searching during the lockdown and decided to change their professional life and move on to new horizons”, which has led to “a lot of vacancies and a lot of departures,” Baleton added.
To counter a possible brain drain, the French tech industry is banking on using the “values” card – which was the theme of this edition of France Digitale Day. Ethical values and the environmental commitment of startups are what should set France and Europe apart.
“Europe is the ecosystem where the question of the meaning of what we do is most relevant,” said O, pointing out that “neither the Chinese nor the Americans can integrate this at the centre”. This is “a very important competitive advantage” for attracting talent, he added.
“There is a real change in mentality. We are no longer talking about human resources, but about people who have a need for a career and to give meaning” to what they do, said Noël. “When we look at the news, we talk a lot about the amount of money raised, but we need to go even further,” she added.
[Edited by Luca Bertuzzi/Alice Taylor]