Innovation

France launches tech visa to bring more billion-dollar companies to the country

In an effort to bring more unicorn tech companies to the country, French president Emmanuel Macron announced a new visa that would make it easier for foreign founders to launch their startups.

In order to streamline the process for foreign-born founders to launch new tech companies in France, country leaders announced a new French Tech Visa at the Viva Technology conference in Paris on Thursday. In his keynote address at the conference, French president Emmanuel Macron said that he wants France to "become a country of unicorns."

"I want France to attract new entrepreneurs, new researchers, and be the nation for innovation and startups," Macron said to CNBC.

According to the visa's website, it is valid for up to four years, and can be renewed. Immediate family members such as spouses and children are included in the visa's provisions, and it requires no other work visa.

SEE: How to get ready for potential changes to the H-1B visa program (Tech Pro Research)

Essentially, the French Tech Visa itself is a way to speed the process toward a French Talent Passport, which is a form of residence permit, the website said. The visa is open to tech founders who create their company in one of France's incubators, French tech employees, and investors who wish to open their own VC firm in the country, invest as an angel, or go to work for an existing firm in France.

At Viva Technology, Macron said that the nation's current environment for tech companies isn't necessarily attractive enough to keep tech founders from leaving. The visa website echoes this idea, also calling for increased diversity in "culture and career paths" to make the startup ecosystem stronger.

According to the website, there are some 10,000 startups in France currently. Also, VC investment grew from $1 billion to $2.4 billion between 2014 and 2016, and "France's startup ecosystem has grown faster than any other European ecosystem in the past 5 years," the site noted.

Startup investment is also ramping up across France, and is continuing to expand. As reported by Reuters, French investment bank Bpifrance is adding 400 million euros to its venture fund, hitting a total of 1 billion euros that the firm has set aside to help grow new tech companies.

"I want France to be a startup nation," Macron said at Viva Technology. "A nation that thinks and moves like a startup. Entrepreneur is the new France."

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. The new French Tech Visa aims to bring more startups, tech founders, and investors to France, in order to attract more unicorn companies.
  2. The French Tech Visa is a way to speed the process toward a French Talent Passport, and is open to company founders, tech employees, and VC investors and their immediate families.
  3. Tech company investment has grown in France from $1 billion to $2.4 billion between 2014 and 2016.

Also see

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Image: iStockphoto/AlxeyPnferov

About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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