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When it comes to France and technology, most of the headlines seen around the world involve the country’s fights with Google, Uber, or other U.S. tech titans.
The result is an impression that the French hate tech and fear the future. But the French government wants you to know that’s not true. In fact, the government has been doing its best lately to let the world know it loves startups and technology.
To make that point loud and clear, the country is amping up its presence at the International CES 2015 in Las Vegas this week.
Along with a massive number of French startups, two high-ranking government officials will be in town for the event. The blitz also includes a FrenchTech startup pitch event today. And leading up to it all has been a relentless social media campaign to highlight the companies attending from France.
“France has a lot of advantages, and we want the world to know it,” said Antoine Msika, community manager for the government’s FrenchTech project. “We want more investors to come to France and invest in France. We want France to be a pillar of the global technology industry.”
La FrenchTech launched early last year as a way to create a better identity around the nation’s startup ecosystems. Late in the summer, the government awarded the “FrenchTech” label to nine cities that demonstrated support for startups and entrepreneurs. In December, the FrenchTech program also announced a $250 million fund for startup incubators.
But in terms of spreading the word around the world, all of this has been a prelude to CES.
For weeks now, the government has been boasting in interviews and infographics like this one that the country’s 66 startups in Eureka Park, the startup corner of CES, is second only to the United States. And overall, France has more companies attending CES than any other country in Europe.
Msika said the government did not coordinate or pay for the companies to attend. However, UBI France, a public-private partnership that promotes French industry abroad, is providing support for 15 startups to travel to Las Vegas this week.
Still, Msika said the French government recognized that there would be a large presence from the country at CES this year and decided to lend additional support to bring more attention to these companies. Economic minister Emmanuel Macron and digital minister Axelle Lemaire are in Las Vegas this week to promote the country’s tech scene and startups.
One of the highlights this week is a FrenchPitch networking lunchtime event hosted by the Downtown Project, the group trying to turn Vegas into a startup hotspot. About 30 French startups will pitch investors at the event.
“We have a lot of startups in France, but we have to help them get bigger and bigger,” Msika said. “We want the FrenchTech label to become something people recognize everywhere.”
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