France, while typically known for their food and wine, is emerging as a significant technology hub in Europe. In 2015, Cisco committed to spending $100 million on incubator and accelerator programs, following the then-CEO, John Chambers, visit to France and his positive impressions of their start-up activity. Deloitte’s Fast 500 EMEA 2015 also ranked France, for the 6th successive year, as the top country with the largest number of hyper-growth firms in EMEA. In addition, Paris is investing €200m to create the world’s biggest start-up incubator which city officials hope will attract about 1,000 French and foreign technology entrepreneurs.
As part of their tech strategy, French Minister of the Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs, Emmanuel Macron, selected Cape Town as one of the six new global French Tech Hubs, and the first in Africa. Cape Town joins San Francisco, London, Tokyo, New York and Hong Kong as the hosts of these Hubs, located at the heart of the most innovative cities in the world. The South African French Tech project aims to rapidly scale up the capacity of the French Tech ecosystem by working with South Africa’s unique engineering talent and innovation skills to incubate and accelerate innovative technology ventures.
This launch, once again confirms that the Cape Town city region, including Stellenbosch, is a central hub of South Africa’s start-up activity and innovation. This follows on from the launch of Barclays Rise Cape Town and Ian Merrington, CEO of CiTi says: ‘Business realise that they cannot innovate on their own – culture and a legacy mind-set often need an external disruptive influence in order to shift. Cape Town has a strong creative and innovative culture, a well-established tech eco-system and also successful innovation hubs such as The Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi). These are supported by strong tertiary education institutions and organisations such as Silicon Cape and the Bandwidth Barn, all of which combine to offer an ideal environment for collaboration around innovation’.
French Tech Hub Cape Town is supported by some leading French companies such as Methys, Orange, Dassault System, Gemalto, and Schneider Electric which are working in close cooperation with the Silicon Cape community, local and national South African agencies such as Wesgro, CiTi and SEDA . Yannick Decaux, South Africa Country Manager for Orange Business Services says ‘France is ranked as the 9th largest investor in South Africa, with more than 300 French companies operating within the country. Obtaining the French Tech label shows that Cape Town stands out as a major technological hub in Africa, and the world.’
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