France's digital minister set out the case for why startups should come to Paris after Brexit


Axelle Lemaire

Axelle Lemaire.

LONDON - Axelle Lemaire, France's digital minister, set out the case for technology in France during a panel discussion at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in London on 2016.

"Paris and France more generally are certainly in a good position at the moment in Europe but also on the international stage to attract the most innovative people," Lemaire said.

"It's not only a cynical strategic positioning," Lemaire said. "What is also important to remind here is the reasons why we want freedom of movement for people.

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"First, because we consider if we belong to the European Union, it's because it was built on certain values. One being individual rights. Another is freedom and that translates in concrete rights such as the freedom of movement for people. That's one thing. Another thing is we're going through massive revolution which is digital now. Economies used to be built on agriculture and then built on manufacturing and what we would consider today as traditional industries. Tomorrow they will be built on data thanks to people. And so human resources are becoming the key asset not only for startups to be competitive towards big corporates or other economic models. But people are becoming the number one asset of companies and new business models that they need to invent.

"In this framework, yes, France wants to be one of the most attractive countries in the world for this asset. We've launched, for example, last year French Tech Ticket that's a visa program to invite tech entrepreneurs to come over with a grant, seed money, with a visa for themselves and their family and with a reserved place in a very good accelerator such as Station F which will open in January and is going to be the biggest incubator for startups in the world."


Mike Butcher, editor at large of TechCrunch, asked Lemaire whether she was tempted to send buses to London to try to attract startups to France.

"I don't think we need to do that," said Lemaire. "If we look at the figures in the amount of capital invested … it speaks for itself. We don't have to spend any money on advertisements on buses."

German political party Freie Demokraten sent a van to London in July which explained some of the advantages of moving to Berlin. 

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