Macron, who ran on a business-friendly, big-tent centrist platform, is also an avid promoter of the digital economy, enthusiastic about tech startups in France.
Emmanuel Macron’s victory as France’s new president Sunday is a piece of news that leaves most EE Times readers, I suspect, cold. Engineers tend to disdain political news. Moreover, many engineers in the United States are even more disdainful toward things French.
But hear me out.
The 39-year-old Macron, France’s new president-elect, represents the polar opposite of what the “Old World” means to many Americans. We’re prone to stereotype France as a nation of good wine, luxury goods, rigid traditions and systems, bureaucratic red tape, and people with little interest in either speaking or understanding English.
Emmanuel Macron (Photo: EE Times)
Macron, who ran on a business-friendly, big-tent centrist platform, is also an avid promoter of the digital economy, enthusiastic about tech startups in France. A former investment banker, Macron is well known in France as an advocate for technological innovation.
And he isn’t just an all-talk no-action politician.
If you felt as though a good part of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in recent years has been hijacked by French startups, you’re not mistaken.
At CES 2016, 130 French companies were startups. One of every three startups presenting at CES was French. This year, 172 French startups exhibited at the show.
The Frenchification of CES is no accident.
When Macron joined François Hollande’s Socialist administration in 2014 as Minister of the Economy, it was his idea to promote tech startups as a new economic engine for France. The plan was executed by France’s Economic Ministry, a government agency called Business France, and the tech industry.
Because those trips to CES by French startups are funded by the government, calling France a free-market paradise would obviously not accurately reflect reality. Further, to casual observers in the United States, the French startup movement appears to be artificially engineered by a government with a decidedly socialistic agenda.
Maybe so, but whether you start up in Paris or Silicon Valley, you’d be loath to turn down “money following industry-changing innovation across a number of sectors and technology areas, such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, big data, autonomous mobility, cyber security, mobile communications and fintech,” as Business France described its “La French Tech” activities.
Next page: Where are French unicorns?