Minister of State for the Digital Sector, Mounir Mahjoubi
25 May 2018

VivaTech: “France needs startups, but startups also need France”

The VivaTechnology trade fair opened its doors on 23 May 2018 in Paris, Porte de Versailles, and is set to run for three days. The Minister of State for the Digital Sector, Mounir Mahjoubi, answered our questions on the year’s top Tech rendezvous, which brings together some 8,000 startups from across the world, along with large groups and foreign delegations, around a key theme for the future: innovation.
 

Gouv.fr: You’ve decided to relocate your Secretariat of State to VivaTech for its three-day run. Why the relocation?

M.M.: VivaTech is the only event in the year where so many participants from such a wide variety of backgrounds get together to talk about innovation, in particular as regards digital technology. There are going to be a great many French innovators there, almost 8,000 startups, large companies, politicians interested in the subject, members of the Government, and a score of foreign delegations, including at least ten from Africa, on the AfricaTech stand… It’s only natural I should be present onsite. Over the three days, I’ll be with all the usual major interlocutors, of course, but I’ll also be with others I don’t get to see so often. It’s an incredible opportunity.

Is the VivaTech trade fair just a negotiating ground for the various Tech actors and the Government?

VivaTech is a time for celebration – "Viva" – as well as for looking ahead into the future. You don’t come to VivaTech to carry out a string of negotiations, you come because you’ve got things to announce on the work you’ve been doing, which are sure to take us well and truly into the future. That’s what I’ll be doing at the end of the week, taking a cue from the President of the Republic’s speech on the future of French Tech, on the relationship that France has with its startups and startups have with France. It’s the result of my own career path and the experiment we’ve been carrying out over the last 9 months with the "Startup Tour de France".

You talk about France’s relationship with its startups and their relationship with France. Why does France need startups and vice versa?

France needs to see startups emerge on its soil and its champions go international. That’s what’s happening with the major transformations brought about by digital technology; nothing less than the redefinition of our society, our political, productive and cultural model… In a context like that, you can’t just bow down to large-scale economic actors from abroad when our country meets all the conditions required to produce its own actors to transform tomorrow’s world. France needs startups because startups, those rapidly growing digital-sector companies – companies that will be creating tomorrow’s jobs and innovations – they’re the ones that are going to transform our society and our economy. We want and need them to be French, European. And startups also need France. They need the State in order to make their lives simpler, to be proud of them and support them in their expansion abroad. That’s why this year’s top priorities are, firstly, to lend support to the largest such companies’ growth and hypergrowth, and, secondly, to support them, fund them, and get them up and running on the international scene.

Mounir Mahjoubi
"You can’t just bow down to large-scale economic actors from abroad"
Mounir Mahjoubi
Minister of State for the Digital Sector
 

People also refer to VivaTech as a “showcase” for French startups. What does this kind of trade fair do for France?

VivaTech is important in France to stimulate startup ecosystems as well as other companies contributing to the economy. On the one hand, the fair gives startups international visibility, and on the other, it provides an opportunity for attendees to acquaint themselves with innovations and new technologies. VivaTech is also important for France because it sends a signal to the world, as representatives from across the globe, of a hundred or more different nationalities, will be coming to see what we are and what we are truly worth. French-style digital technology is very high-level tech, with real meaning and values.

Mounir Mahjoubi
"French-style digital technology is very high-level tech, with real meaning and values."
Mounir Mahjoubi
Minister of State for the Digital Sector