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France wants to overtake UK as Europe's tech hub: 'We want to be part of the next industrial revolution'

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
French Minister for the Digital Economy Cedric O visits the Doctolib headquarters in Paris on April 3, 2019. Photo: ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images

France wants to “outperform” the UK tech sector in the coming years, the country’s digital minister said on Wednesday.

Cedric O, France’s Minister for the Digital Economy, told journalists on Wednesday: “The leading tech ecosystem in Europe is actually now in the UK. First, we had to develop the French ecosystem. Now we want to be the first European ecosystem so our model is the UK, we want to outperform the UK. Then we want to outperform Israel and then, ok, the US [is] perhaps out of reach.”

The comments came at a press conference on the sidelines of the Paris Blockchain Week summit. The two-day private sector event, which has received significant government support, showcased France’s credentials as a hub for the emerging technology.

O’s comments come amid a wider push by the government to turn France into a major hub for technology. French President Emmanuel Macron has said he wants to turn France into a “startup nation” and has wooed tech businesses with tax breaks, investment, and generous visa programmes.

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“France wants to be part of the game,” Cedric O said during a speech at the Paris Blockchain Week summit. “We want to be part of the next industrial revolution and we want to be part as far as technology is concerned.

“We want to build an environment, a framework that allows startups to grow here.”

France24 recently posed the question: “Could Macron and Brexit make Paris Europe's tech capital?” Cedric O stopped short of saying the government is trying to lure UK tech firms as a result of Brexit but said France would welcome any who want to relocate as a result.

“If it were only me, I would not have voted for the Brexit,” he said. “If tech companies, because of the choice of the English people, want to move or land on the continent, we’d be more than happy to welcome them.”

He added: “We need to build a European ecosystem. As far as this question is concerned, Brexit is terrible.”

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