Meet Startup @TW

France Expands Efforts To Build Ties With Taiwanese Startups


French officials want their country known worldwide not just for fashion and cuisine but also for high-tech discoveries. So the European country, also the world’s sixth largest economy, is trying to retool its public image in tech-intensive Taiwan.

Benoit Guidee, director of French Office in Taipei, has pressed over the past three years for more tech ties between the two sides.

Guidee and Laurent Le Guyader, coordinator of French Tech Taiwan, spoke to Business Next February 27 about the French Office’s plans for 2018.

The French Office christened La French Tech, a 5-year-old branding program for French startups. The office joined Business Next to launch French Tech Taiwan. The newer program, the 23rd of its hub worldwide for France, combines the resources and ideas of French and Taiwanese entrepreneurs.

Caption: Benoit Guidee, Director of French Office in Taipei

“There were few French startups in Taiwan three years ago, but now we witness a bright present and future between the two sides,” Guidee said. “Now there are at least 50 startups founded by French entrepreneurs.”

Caption: Sigfox’s Christophe Fourtet talks IoT and cooperation with Taiwanese companies

Christophe Fourtet, Sigfox’s co-founder, came to Taiwan last year to discuss potential cooperation with Taiwanese companies on internet-of-things, for example.

Easymile, the self-driving vehicle technology company founded in 2014 in France, also has sent people to Taiwan in search of a local market.

The French capital has seen growth of several unicorns, meaning young firms with quick market success. Among them are Criteo, which made an IPO in 2013, and Blabla Car, which completed France’s biggest round of venture capital funding three years ago for 177 million euros.

For that reason, Therefore, Taiwanese interest in investing in French startups has been skyrocketing. Terry Gou, president of the contract assembly giant Foxconn Technology, for instance invested 16 million euros last year in Devialet, a French speaker company founded in 2007.

Plethora of programs for startups

Taiwanese are also joining French Tech Ticket, a program supported by the French government to foster startups. It funds startup teams of two to three people including one French citizen. In turn they join one of 41 incubators in France.

And there’s one more option: the Young Enterprise Initiative, a decade-old program that received French government funding for Taipei last year. Three Taiwanese tech firms were picked for this program to spend a week in France.

“Creativity in different aspects is the key we need in France,” Guidee said in explaining the plethora of pro-startup programs.

École 42, a nonprofit computer programming school in Paris, France, is a model for cultivation of talent, he said.

“You can see the students there actually are from different backgrounds such as cooks and artists,” he said. “However, they end up being gathered together…to do coding to explore different parts of themselves then find a new route in their lives, which is an innovative path for them and for the society as well.”

Events in Taiwan

Caption: French Tech Taiwan celebrates its first anniversary at Meet Taipei Startup Festival 2017
Eric Hao-Yuan Weng

The French Office in Taipei will take part in three Taiwan events to get its message out: Smart City Summit & Expo this month, the startup fair InnoVEX in May and France-Taiwan Science Week in September.

These events will help French Tech Taiwan, the French Office in Taipei and Meet Taipei 2018 bring more French startups and talent to Taiwan this year for various levels of cooperation.

Feliciana Hsu
English journalist and PR for Global Affairs

Feliciana gained her MSc of Media Power and Public Affairs from Royal Holloway, University of London.

After graduating from London, she started her career of being journalist at Business Next Media and Meet Startup @TW Website, and specializes in interviewing about innovation and technology.

Within her career, she has interviewed various experts in their field, including Mr.Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia; Fleur Pellerin, former French Minister of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and Sir Christopher Pissarides, Nobel Prize Laureate in Economic in 2010.