Business France considers and looks to the future
L’Usine Digitale: Ten years after bringing French startups to CES, what are the results?
Didier Boulogne: In 2013 there were about fifteen companies. Today, the red rooster is recognized at all technology exhibitions around the world. Even the organizers congratulate us. If there’s one state-backed brand that’s been successful, it’s French Tech. And this is clearly explained by the ecosystem, beyond the brand itself. There are real projects, real startups that are recognized by VCs and major customers.
Does CES remain a milestone in 2023?
Yes, it is the right showcase to show the product, idea, innovation. In early stage, this remains a great reference. It is useful both to meet American, English, German and other contractors, and to see what others are doing in the world. This allows companies to make comparisons, which is very important.
Has the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic diminished?
Even with 135 companies in Eurekapark and 15 for Auto Parts, the 2022 edition was still a mess. But for 2023, we have more than 170 French startups in Eureka Park, 16 companies and 30 startups in the Convention Center in the Automotive section. learning expedition. We are back to pre-Covid levels. In terms of topics, we are on a lot of AI, health and wellness solutions, and obviously the current trends for the transition to the environment.
The economic context has nevertheless tightened this year, what do you think about the French ecosystem?
We had a great year in 2021 and are limiting the damage in 2022. The global environment is indeed complex, and even if Tech is less affected than other sectors such as automotive or aeronautics, we resonate with it. So we did everything to be robust. Either way, while the export bet is a winner for our startups, the wrong choice would be to look inward and not tackle the international market quickly. Because a Brazilian or Australian startup could grow and take its place.
And on the Chinese side?
It seems to be slowing down a bit, but we are very bearish on China. We couldn’t do anything there this year. The planned pavilions were canceled or minimally used. It also sells few industrial goods with high added value and less and less about Technology.
In return, isn’t their arrest an opportunity to expose our champions to the rest of the world?
Yes, this could be an opportunity for French Technology, especially for the creation of European giants. We see an increasing number of unicorns, but there is still no one at €50 billion in capitalization. The solution is at the European level.
The challenge is to be able to grow while maintaining the European identity…
For this reason, not only the national, but the European scale is important. On the side of American venture capitalists, they invested in us in 2021 and 2022 without asking for the physical transfer of companies to Silicon Valley, which was a very positive change compared to the past. This was especially in response to the talent shortage problem. But that can change with an IRA. [Inflation Reduction Act, loi passée en août aux Etats-Unis, ndlr]. This worries us in terms of attractiveness and placement of production units on strategic goods.
More specifically, do you have projects related to re-industrialization? In France, startups with “hardware” projects have historically not been preferred…
We are working on this topic and we are modeled on the logic of France 2030. The same applies to the international projection of companies and technologies through trade shows or booster programs. In 2023, we have acceleration programs that will be implemented almost everywhere. And we are looking forward to the export plan which we feed upstream of the government. Combat in a very fast moving environment. If we stay flexible, we can get out of the game.
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