Paris: The Next Startup Capital

June 29, 2016

11:45 am

Cities across the globe are often competing to be hailed as the next tech startup capital. London has been the top listing in recent years, but with recent EU referendum results looming over the heart of business, tech could be taking a back seat. A Eurotunnel away, Paris is more well known for its romance but it also has a thriving technology scene that makes it worth Silicon Valley’s attention.

Startup City Rankings

Last year, Paris overtook Berlin in the European Digital City Index (EDCI) rankings of best tech start up cities, making taking it 6th place in the world. The EDCI noted that a community that fosters startup growth, with both France Digitale and La French Tech promoting and enabling collaboration with the startup community.

The city has also produced well known startups including BlaBlaCar (ridesharing service) and Criteo (real-time digital advertising software) giving it prominence as a center for the ‘sharing economy’.

What has also, in a very practical and financial sense, helped Paris to increase in prominence, is the overall cost of living. Looking at the cost of living in Paris in 2014 and 2015, though it remains expensive, there has been a sizeable drop. If this trajectory carries on the city will become more manageable for startups.

This continuing decrease in living costs, a much larger increase than London has seen in recent years, has given rise to coworking spaces and accelerators – the success of which has led to the world’s largest incubator.

World’s Largest Incubator

Paris is planning the world’s largest business incubator in a listed railway goods yard within the south east of the city. This incubator is expected to create up to 4000 jobs, alongside showing the success that can be had when private and public money is used for a joint venture.

The project is expected to be finished by early 2017, and is currently running ahead of schedule. This investment, both through private funds and the government, exemplifies the effort being put in to create a city that can nurture new talent and business. Though competition is likely to be high to get one’s startup in the impressive center, it reflects a culture that is spreading throughout Paris of innovation and drive for results.

Global Connections

International renown and global connections are key to any city dominating business, especially in the tech scene. Paris is a well-connected city, making it very quick and easy to travel to the likes of other tech capitals: London, Berlin, Amsterdam and Madrid.

Of course, physical connections are one aspect, but multi-lingual conversations are other half of the same coin. With regular international flights, Paris is well equipped to bolster startup relations with growing countries outside of Europe. Chinese languages are making a huge impact in business, alongside Arabic.

This applies to all startups, whatever their current rankings. The next rising startup capital could very well be one that embraces multi-lingual clients. This allows them to both create and capitalize on the lucrative businesses in Indian, China and the US, looking to make moves into Europe. Even Silicon Valley will benefit from better relations with the European startup market, and they’ll need more language to do that.

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Simon Davies is a London based freelance writer with an interest in startup culture, issues and solutions.