Originally published on Invest Paris Region 

According to KPMG, Paris Region is the least expensive of the 20 biggest cities in the world to set up a business. Did you know that? If not, take the time to discover the many other advantages of Paris Region. You will probably be eager to set up your business within sight of the Eiffel tower.

Paris Region is the ideal place to set up and grow your business
Paris Region is the ideal place to set up and grow your business

The world’s biggest start-up campus. That’s right. On Thursday, June 29, the French entrepreneur Xavier Niel inaugurated STATION F in Paris. This campus is completely devoted to entrepreneurship with 3,000 workstations and especially its 21 start-up accelerator programmes sponsored by organisations like Facebook, Microsoft and Ubisoft. “France is a paradise for start-ups,” declared the founder of this new address. We trust his business sense to set the seal on his statement. More broadly, this inauguration symbolises the radiant summer of the French business ecosystem. Judge for yourself… Mid-July, two of the biggest French venture capital funds announced recent fundraising records: Partech Ventures (€ 400 million) and Idinvest Partners (€ 250 million). A few days later, the European Union awarded Paris Region its annual label of “European Entrepreneurial Region” to recognise its local policy on entrepreneurship, innovation and support for business. We have seen worse summers…

 

An innovative region, powerful and open to the world

The fact is, this good news owes nothing to an unlikely summer alignment of planets. It can only be explained by the undeniable assets of Paris Region and its unusually pro-active regional policy. “I want to be an enterprising president” recapped Valérie Pécresse, President of the Paris Region, elected in December 2015. Other than the presence of the local investors mentioned above, business entrepreneurs also benefit from many forms of public support to create and foster their projects. Regional assistance programmes (like PM’UP, TP’UP or Innov’up) provide access for small, medium and large businesses to grants of up to € 250,000 to finance an investment or launch a new product. In addition to this financial assistance, there are special programmes for loans and bank guarantees. Even better, this regional policy of support for innovation now takes the form of high visibility operations such as “Paris Region Smart Weeks”. Like the Fashion Week for fashion, this high summer season is gathering steam – from May to July – with seven events in Paris Region dedicated to digital and high-tech innovation at the international level. Examples include Futur en Seine, the French Touch Conference and of course, VivaTechnology with an attractivity that should match that of CES in Las Vegas within the next few years.

 

Very competitive talents with good training

Another local characteristic: lots of young talent. With over 600,000 students, the Region has a large reservoir of good minds. Even very good minds, owing to some of the best schools on the continent, such as HEC (the best business school in Europe) and the École Polytechnique (the best engineering school in France). “French mathematical excellence is a very distinctive advantage,” confirmed Benjamin Revcolevschi, Managing Director of Fujitsu France. An important point: on the labour market, these high-level managers cost far less for their employers than some of their foreign counterparts. Fabrice Cavarretta, Associate Professor of Leadership and Entrepreneurship at ESSEC Business School, maintains that, “here, developers are just as talented and creative as in California. If you were Google or Facebook and you wanted to design solutions with artificial intelligence, Paris is clearly less expensive.”

 

An open, inspiring global-region undergoing massive transformation

The list of current and future advantages for entrepreneurs in Paris Region is long. Among its assets are the region’s excellent transportation connections and outstanding rail and airport hubs (airport ranked 2nd in Europe). These hubs are at the centre of a dense regional network recently ranked third in the world for quality by the Moovi’t application. This performance will improve further by 2020 with the Grand Paris Express. Part of this project involves adding another 200 kilometres of underground rails and 68 new stations to the regional transportation network – a blessing for residents of the Paris region (90% will live less than 2 km from a station) and also for the 44.9 million tourists who come every year to enjoy the art of living and the quality of local life. As the whole world is now meeting up in Paris, Sheryl Sandberg, Director of Operations for Facebook’s global network, summed it up for us: “Paris has always been a city of ideas”. What about yours?

 

If you are exploring business opportunities in France, please contact us