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Prioritizing the Digital Economy and Sustainable Growth

Innovation Comes First

As drivers of innovation, growth and employment, the digital economy and green growth are at the heart of France's industrial and technological ambitions.

Fully committed in the digital economy

On February 28, 2013, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault presented the French government’s “Digital Roadmap” which envisages, amongst other things, €450 million of funding to encourage the distribution of digital technology in the French economy. €300 million is being made available to SMEs to introduce more digital technology in their products and their production processes, while €150 million will support corporate investment in five strategic technologies.

€20 billion will be provided over the next 10 years for very-high-speed internet, and will bring together the private sector and the public sector. Major government investment will ensure 100% very-high-speed coverage to all French residents and regions, with the vast majority of connections based on fiber optics for all subscribers.

With 73 foreign investment decisions in 2012, “software and IT services” was the leading sector for job-creating foreign investment in France. (Source: IFA, 2012 Report).
 
For the third consecutive year, France leads the way in Deloitte’s annual list of the 500 most successful technology companies in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, with 86 companies among the 500.
 
France’s telecommunications networks are among the best in the world, with investments in cloud computing, steady annual growth in e-commerce (32.6 million internet users made purchases online in the second quarter of 2013) and five dedicated innovation clusters (Cap Digital, Images and Networks, Minalogic, SCS and Systematic) supporting development in this area.
 
La French Tech
 On November 27, 2013, Ms. Fleur Pellerin, Minister Delegate for SMEs, Innovation and the Digital Economy, unveiled a key public-private initiative, “La French Tech”, to foster growth and raise the profile of digital start-ups in France. “La French Tech” is based upon a three-part plan:
  • Creating urban ecosystems to work towards ambitious common goals: Awarding accreditation to selected French cities capable of sustaining world-class digital ecosystems that will each work towards an ambitious growth project. 
  • Start-up accelerator programs: The government will support private-sector initiatives that accelerate the growth of selected digital companies with a view to turning them into global leaders. Through the French government’s “National Investment Program”, a total of €200 million will be provided to fund accelerator programs.
  • International investment attractiveness: Ecosystems accredited by “La French Tech” will pool their efforts and work together to enhance the profile and investment attractiveness of France’s digital ecosystems. A €15 million promotional budget will be made available to achieve this.

Transitioning toward green energy

Legal and regulatory framework

 
The “Energy and Climate Package” adopted by the European Union in 2008 calls for a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, along with a 20% increase
in energy efficiency, and to achieve a 20% share of renewable energies in EU final energy consumption.
 
France has set itself a more ambitious target of achieving a 23% share of renewable energy in domestic final energy consumption by 2020.
 
Through the “Environmental Conference” launched in September 2012, France has kicked off a national consultation process focusing, in particular, on managing the energy transition and protecting biodiversity. An Energy Transition Planning Act will be submitted to parliament.
 

An attractive market

 
A growing, innovative market for renewable energies, low-carbon vehicles, smart grids, or sustainable transport and infrastructure. Seven innovation clusters dedicated to green technologies and nine innovation clusters dedicated to energy.
 
In 2012, France was the leading European market for electric vehicles, accounting for 35% of all EV registrations in the European Union. (Source: French Trade Association for the Promotion of Electric Transport – Avere)
 
A large number of foreign companies active in the French energy and green technology market, including General Electric, Siemens, Enercon, Vestas, Sunpower, Bombardier, Johnson Controls or Toshiba.
 
The “Global Energy Architecture Performance Index Report 2013” ranks France third in the world, after Norway and Sweden. Selected criteria are: economic growth & development; environmental sustainability; and energy access. (Source: World Economic Forum, December 2012)
Specific feed-in tariffs for electricity generated from renewable sources; interest-free “ecoloans” to finance thermal renovation work and tax deductibility for certain types of energy efficiency work (reduced-rate VAT and/or a specific tax credit); SMEs and mid-size companies that have been operating in France for at least three years are eligible for subsidized green loans granted by BPI France.
 
Under the new phase of the “National Investment Program”, €2.3 billion allocated to investment in energy transition, thermal renovation and future urbanism.
 

Dedicated structures and incentives to encourage partnerships between industry and the research sector

 
Ten “world-class institutions for low-carbon energy” to support long-term partnerships between higher education and research institutions and companies.
 
World-class research centers including the National Institute for Solar Energy (Institut National de l’Energie Solaire – INES), the Grenoble center for smart grids
and the CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research) PROMES laboratory on thermodynamic solar energy in Perpignan.
 
Development of electric and hybrid vehicles, supported by the “Automotive Plan” launched by the French Government in July 2012.
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