French Tech Hubs around the world

La French Tech

To make France a “Digital Republic”, the Government has launched a major collective effort to bolster the growth and standing of French digital start-ups. After a year spent stimulating a network of start-up ecosystems through the certification of nine French Tech centres, French Tech switched up a gear in 2015 to shape its international dimension, notably through the French Tech Hub label, aimed at providing a framework for French Tech communities in the world’s major innovation centres.


Successfully making the transition to digital would give French GDP by half-percentage-point boost every year. France already boasts a dynamic start-up ecosystem. Who knew, for example, that five of the top twelve connected objects sold via the Apple Store in the United States were French? Who knew that French web companies generated an average 39% of their turnover in international markets, as opposed to 3% for other SMEs, or that 87% of the employment contracts offered by digital start-ups in France were permanent?
Nevertheless, the French digital ecosystem needed to be shaped and its profile raised on the international economic stage. The Government is committed to making the development and promotion of digital technologies and uses an economic asset and a source of social progress that reflects the values of the Republic, and created the Digital Republic project with these aims in mind.

Since it was created in late 2013, French Tech has been an end goal and also a group not only of entrepreneurs but also all those who contribute to the growth and reach of start-ups, including investors, engineers, designers, developers, students, associations, bloggers, the media and public operators.

Portrait of Axelle Lemaire
What we have are little nuggets. Help us make them into ingots!
Axelle Lemaire
Minister of State for the Digital Sector


French Tech encompasses all start-ups, i.e. all growth companies that share a global ambition, at every stage in their development, from embryonic firms to growing start-ups with several hundred employees and their sights set on the international market. As is the case all over the world, digital technology is a major catalyst for its development, and French Tech represents both digital pure players and medtech, biotech, cleantech, etc. start-ups.

The State does not lead, it supports

The French Tech initiative was launched by the Government based on a certain philosophy – to capitalise on initiatives developed by French Tech members themselves and build on existing ideas to create a snowball effect. It is therefore a shared ambition given impetus by the State but supported and constructed with all stakeholders.

Transversality at the heart of French Tech
French Tech makes public initiatives designed to help start-ups easier to understand and more coherent. It does not create any sort of new organisation or new public tool, but is supported by a small team, the French Tech Mission, who works closely with the relevant departments of the Ministries for Economy, Finance and Foreign Affairs and the Commissariat-General for Investment. Its partners, who are the cornerstones of the initiative, are national operators who, under the joint “French Tech” banner, coordinate their respective initiatives designed to help start-ups, including the Caisse des Dépôts (the French state-controlled financial institution), Bpifrance (France's public investment bank) and Business France.

Uniting and accelerating

The “French Tech” brand is associated with the certification of extraordinary regional ecosystems known as “Métropoles French Tech” (“French Tech Centres”). Nine initial centres obtained French Tech certification in November 2014. Axelle Lemaire and Emmanuel Macron announced a new wave of certifications (both centres and themed ecosystems) in June 2015, creating four new French Tech Centres (Brest, Lorraine, Nice and Normandy) and four themed ecosystems (Saint-Étienne, Alsace, Avignon and Angers).

Cities applying for certification were audited thoroughly. Each had to show that it was home to start-ups that had completed substantial fundraising campaigns and entrepreneurs able to support projects and help young businesses. They were also required to have incubators and accelerators that would enable SMEs to develop and grow at different stages in their life cycles.

The French Tech Pass
The French Tech Pass is a support system launched in March 2014 aimed at ultra-high-growth companies (+100% growth in turnover per year). Recipients enjoy free tailored support from major public (Bpifrance, DGE (Directorate General for Enterprise), Business France, Coface (France's export credit agency), INPI (National Institute for Intellectual Property), etc.) and private (AFPC (French Association of Competitiveness Hubs), AFIC (French Venture Capital and Private Equity Association), etc.) economic players.
The 66 winning startups of the 2015-2016 Pass French Tech programme were awarded their diplomas on 28 September 2016 in the company of Christophe Sirugue, Minister of State for Industry.

200 million euros will be invested in supporting the development of private start-up accelerators. With this in mind, an investment fund is being managed by Bpifrance with the aim of jointly investing capital in such accelerators. All funding is part of the Investments for the Future Programme.

Exerting an influence

French Tech switched up a gear in 2015, adopting a three-pronged approach aimed at shaping its international dimension:

  • The emergence of French Tech Hubs within major international innovation regions. A “French Tech Hub” provides a focal point for the French entrepreneurial ecosystem in these regions to boost the development of French start-ups seeking to establish a presence there and make France more attractive to local entrepreneurs and investors. As was the case with the Métropoles French Tech approach, “Hubs” are certified by the State if their business proposal meets a set of specifications. Following New York, Israel, Tokyo, San Francisco and Moscow in 2015, six new hubs were certified on 29 January 2016: Abidjan, Cape Town, London, Barcelona, Hong Kong and Montreal. These now have their own website at During a visit to Montreal in October 2016 on the theme of innovation, in the presence of Axelle Lemaire,  Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced on the names of 10 communities of French entrepreneurs abroad to which the State has awarded the French Tech Hub label: Beijing, Berlin, Dubai, Los Angeles, Milan, Sao Paolo, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Taiwan and Vietnam.

  • Launch of the French Tech International Attractiveness Platform. This programme, which has a total budget of 15 million euros, is designed to support private sector initiatives in particular with the aim of enhancing and promoting French excellence in the field of innovation.

  • A “welcome pack”, the French Tech Ticket, to encourage foreign entrepreneurs to create their start-ups in France. This welcome pack comprises a grant for the entrepreneur and support for the setting-up of their business, a residence permit and a place in an incubator. The French Tech Ticket was officially launched by Axelle Lemaire and Paris City Council in May 2015. 70 foreign start-ups will be honored in 2016 (compared with 23 during the first edition). Prizewinners will be housed for one year, beginning in January 2017, in one of France's 41 business incubators. They will receive a 45,000 euro prize to launch an innovative project in France; an accelerated, simplified process for obtaining a residence permit enabling them to live and work in the country; and a guidance and support program that includes master classes.
Cisco backs French start-ups
The Prime Minister met with John Chambers, CEO of the Cisco group, in early 2015, and together they approved the framework for a partnership between the American company and the French Government. Cisco took the opportunity to announce its plan to invest 100 million euros in the French technology ecosystem. A few months later, the American company announced its first commitments in the form of NUMA Sprint (a start-up acceleration programme), The Camp (a campus dedicated to digital innovation), Le Défi (a competition relating to social and environmental issues), 6WIND (telecommunications) and Actility (a Machine-to-Machine service operator).

Achieving international standing also requires French start-ups to participate in major international events. Following the success of the 2015 edition (see the report on French Tech at the CES 2015), nearly 200 French companies attended the Consumer Electronics Show on 6-9 January 2016 in Las Vegas – a major event devoted to mass market technological innovation. French Tech was the 2nd-largest global delegation at the event after the USA and the largest from Europe.

Plans for a “Digital Republic”
In September 2014, plans to make France a “Digital Republic” were presented to the Council of Ministers. They entail making the development and promotion of digital technologies and uses an economic asset and a source of social progress that reflects the values of the Republic. The €15m budget aimed at supporting the promotion of French Tech has also been confirmed.
An extensive public consultation was launched in October 2014 and ran until February 2015 with a view to identifying any changes needed in preparation for a Digital Republic to foster innovation and protect civil liberties. On 18 June, the report produced by the French National Digital Council based on the 18,000 contributions received and the 70 workshops organised throughout France was submitted to Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who then outlined the Government’s digital strategy for “actions to promote the Digital Republic”.