Willing to start your business in France? The French Tech Central aims to make your life easier. Explore the services and support you can get there as a foreign entrepreneur.
Based at Station F, the world’s largest startup campus located in Paris, French Tech Central is a one-stop desk that brings 30 French public sector actors together to provide entrepreneurs the keys to launch and grow their business – in France and abroad. Whether you are incubated at Station F or not, you can meet there the public services and agencies that cover all the hot topics a startupper needs to address: hiring procedures (with URSSAF, Pôle Emploi and APEC), legal issues (CNIL), public funding (Bpifrance, Région Ile-de-France, CCI Paris)*, etc.
It is also a business booster for some entrepreneurs, as they can request technology transfer from public research bodies like INRIA** or get some support from Business France to expand in specific countries. Telecom regulator Arcep works with startups, too, in order to identify and test new uses related to upcoming 5G networks – be it in healthcare, energy, smart city or other applications.
As a foreign startupper, the best way to benefit from all the advantages offered by French Tech Central is to schedule a one-hour face-to-face meeting with a Business France representative. She or he will give you a useful overview of the administrative procedures to settle in France – from incorporating to finding the right business partners or applying to public funding program – and a detailed roadmap to plan your appointments with the appropriate public actors.
These are not one-shot appointments. They include careful follow-up. Jeffrey McDowell, the Canadian CEO of Massive Dynamic Systems, which develops a technology for electric vehicles, was not only guided in the process of incorporating in France but also got useful connections. “Business France also helped us with market research, sharing with us information about the French and EU electric vehicle markets” he adds. “I first got advice regarding the CIFRE program and then about the JEI eligibility (1). And I will contact Business France again when I set that up.”
French Tech Central also regularly organizes workshops and master classes in English. These interactive trainings, animated by seasoned speakers, cover different topics of interest for an international audience, like taxes and employment laws. But French Tech Central is also a vibrant meeting place that offers entrepreneurs a unique opportunity to gather and interact. As Abel Ureta-Vidal, Spanish founder of smart data management platform Eagle Genomics points out:
Last, French Tech Central provides great opportunities for startups willing to collaborate with public services, and ultimately help them transform for the better. They can find inspiration from govtech company Manty, created in 2017, which helps elected officials to make decisions based on Big Data . Another remarkable example is Bob, a free platform that collaborated with Pôle Emploi to guide unemployed people in their search for a job, using algorithms. By the way, did you know that France is ranked #5 in the world for the quality of its e-government services? (2).
French Tech Central first opened in Paris, but it will branch out in a dozen other major French cities in 2019 and will be able to provide its services (almost) everywhere in France. So stay tuned.
*Bpifrance: French sovereign fund.
Région Ile-de-France: the Greater Paris region.
CCI Paris: Paris Chamber of Commerce of Industry.
URSSAF: organizations for the collection of social contributions.
Pôle Emploi: governmental agency for unemployed people.
APEC: association for employment of managers and executives.
CNIL: national commission for protection of personal data
**INRIA: public research body dedicated to digital science and technology.
***Residence permit a document needed to live in France
****Préfecture de Police: Police department
(1) The Cifre agreement subsidies companies that hire postgraduates studying in public R&D labs. The “JEI” innovative startup status provides tax exemptions for R&D expenses.
(2) Source: Global Innovation Index 2018.