France, a Magnet for Global Talent

Based on a column by André-Yves Portnoff

The Paris French Tech Ticket, launched in May 2015 by the city of Paris and the French state, enabled 49 entrepreneurs to be selected who were leaders of 23 start-up projects. The aim of this operation, repeated this year, is to attract talent and ‘make Paris a world capital of start-ups, welcoming international entrepreneurs who want to create or develop their start-up in the city.’

The award-winners each receive 25,000 euros over a year, with accelerated access to a residence permit and a contact to facilitate administrative procedures; they are admitted to a Paris business incubator and also benefit from support and advice programmes. This French Tech Ticket is aimed at foreign entrepreneurs, some of whom are already present in France, as students for example. The founding teams may comprise of up to three people, with no more than one French national among them.

This is, admittedly, a praiseworthy initiative, but there will be no decisive breakthrough until a series of measures are taken. The first of these, often mentioned but blocked in Brussels and a taboo subject in Paris, would be really to open up government contracts to independent and innovative SMEs. This would be a healthier way to consolidate their growth than subsidies. This entails a degree of positive discrimination, reserving some 20% of government contracts for SMEs, as has been done in the USA since the Small Business Act (SBA) of 1953.

There would also have to be a rectification of the permanent failing of French innovation policies, which reserve 70% of assistance for a number of large conglomerates that are unrepresentative of French potential. This would involve a reorientation of the Research Tax Credit (CIR) toward independent SMEs and middle-market companies.

This is one of the necessary conditions for winning the employment battle, since we know that jobs are created by the growth of small enterprises and destroyed by rationalizations in some large ones.

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