French Tech

Should French Tech be privatized?

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"We must privatize French Tech! "A proposal from the Terra Nova think tank, which believes that "the purpose, organisation and governance proposed by the public authorities are now poorly understood by entrepreneurs, who are beginning to turn away from them". The aim is to create world-class champions, which is not the case today, and to enable startups to take the next step towards a new growth momentum. A divisive proposal that has the merit of opening up the debate.
 
The French Tech brand has contributed to the dynamism and success of the French technology entrepreneurial ecosystem, which is now much better structured: investors are back to pre-crisis levels, startups are growing, incubators and other mentors have never been so numerous. Private and associative players have greatly accelerated this movement, in different registers. However, French Tech's current position no longer allows it to assert itself as the umbrella brand under which the entire environment could find itself. Many entrepreneurs express their incomprehension: is French Tech an administration? a public policy? an attractiveness agency? In order to restore meaning to its missions, ensure the vitality of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and allow the emergence and development of French technology companies of international stature, the Terra Nova think tank recommends no longer keeping French Tech under public administration, but transferring the brand to a Foundation recognized as a public utility, based on the Anglo-Saxon model. This innovative management method would give it new vigour and allow French Tech to spread further abroad.
 
At the heart of the technological ecosystem is the entrepreneur. And around him, the investors, the incubators, the researchers... A priori, the State is legitimate to intervene in this kind of context only when it is necessary to repair market failures or to orient the ecosystem in a determined direction. This is what the previous government had to do when the ecosystem was weakened and funding was lacking. That is how the French Tech was born.
 
Its initial mission was to promote international understanding and visibility of the French ecosystem. This was followed by a voluntarist state policy dedicated to supporting and structuring the ecosystem. The French Tech Mission thus facilitated the creation of "French Tech Metropolises" and hubs. It has enabled the creation of the "French Tech Visa", the "French Tech Pass", the "French Tech Diversity", etc. It has also promoted the increased presence of entrepreneurs at international trade shows.
 
All in all, the French Tech brand has contributed to the dynamism and success of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, which is now much better structured: investors are back to pre-crisis levels, startups are growing, incubators and other mentors have never been so numerous. Private and associative players have greatly accelerated this movement, in different registers, such as Numa, France Digitale, Station F, The Family or The Camp...
 
However, French Tech's current position weakens its ability to assert itself as the umbrella brand under which the entire environment could find itself. Many entrepreneurs express their incomprehension: is French Tech an administration? a public policy? an attractiveness agency?
 
Developing technology companies of the size of the largest French groups, bringing together in concrete terms the players involved and integrating the key players in its development who are still too far from the ecosystem (universities, research centres, large groups, international investors, etc.), are all objectives that have yet to be achieved. To keep pace with these changes, French Tech must regain its agility and pragmatism. Consequently, one can legitimately ask whether the management of French Tech should be maintained under public administration.
 
Terra Nova recommends that the State initiate a process of empowerment of the French Tech by re-branding the entrepreneurial ecosystem to ensure both its renewal and sustainability. To this end, the think tank proposes that the brand and mission be transferred to a Foundation recognised as being of public utility, bringing together all the players in the ecosystem. This foundation should be endowed with capital, the interest on which, together with donations, grants or operating income, could make the structure work. This organisational and financial scheme has been adopted by some of our European neighbours, such as the Nesta Foundation for Innovation in the United Kingdom.
 
 
Mathis Cohen, coordinator of the Terra Nova Digital Cluster
Thibaud FrossardDigital Economy expert at Terra Nova

 

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