Meet Startup @TW

France reaches out to Taiwan's high-tech startups

The word entrepreneur comes from French, and now France is out to prove it. Three years ago the European country kicked off a broad effort to stimulate its high-tech industry.

And suddenly Taiwan is part of the plan.

France's mission dubbed "La French Tech" would inject new life into its economy against slow growth and rising unemployment.

The public-private push to stimulate French high-tech industries happens to follow similar efforts around the world, for example in India and Israel.

La French Tech aims to build connections between startups and other companies, accelerate the growth of new companies and promote them internationally. The term “La French Tech” can also be used as a brand for startups with business abroad.

USA Today online has called Paris a city "for lovers of startups." About 4,000 startups are based there now. But the campaign is not only about the capital: 13 Frencnh cities are behind it.

Toulouse in southern France, for example, is a base for the European aviation industry. Heavyweights such as Airbus, the Galileo global navigation satellite system and Centre National d'Études Spatiales operate there now.

Companies based in Bordeaux in the country's west are working now in big data and virtual reality.

From next year, the world's biggest startup incubator, Halle Freyssinet, will operate in Paris and help 1,000 new startups.

The effort in France also includes a vast overseas component, including renewable 12,500 euro (US$13,498) prizes for foreign firms that site in Paris and “talent passports” for foreign migrants in the right industries.

LA TAIWANESE TECH

In 2016, the French campaign picked Taiwan as a hub for the overseas outreach.

Taiwan's strength is its technology-savvy people, said Laurent Le Guyader, coordinator of the program's French Tech Taiwan.

Taiwan has developed a tech hardware industry since the 1960s, spinning out brands such as Acer, Foxconn and TSMC.

French Tech Taiwan will play a pivotal role as a bridge between French and Taiwanese startups, Le Guyader said.

Those bridges would be built as people in both Taiwan and France from ages 18 to want to establish their own business.

Because their local market is relatively small, younger Taiwanese startup founders have turned increasingly to other countries for sales and partnerships.

"La French Tech" has a budget of 200 million euros for investment in accelerators, which can accept Taiwanese startups aiming to do business in France.

Events related to French Tech Taiwan will take place in the X-lab at Taipei Expo Dome as part of the Meet Taipei conference on Friday.

The event may yield announcements on partnerships between France and Taiwan.