Representatives from the Consulate General of France and the government’s business development agency were in Seattle this week, aiming to convince tech companies from Washington state to open offices in France — where a robust tech scene, with an established pipeline to the Seattle region’s tech giants, is only growing stronger.
French representatives stopped at GeekWire before heading over to Amazon’s Seattle headquarters, where they presented everything France has to offer to tech companies. The names of the companies in attendance weren’t made public, but France has history with our biggest companies such as Microsoft and Amazon, and it also wants to work with smaller tech companies and startups.
“France is innovative and creative, and (American companies) say that we have the pool of talent, that we have an ecosystem that fosters innovation, that we have a great tax credit system for R&D, probably the world best in the world,” said Patrick Imbert, deputy vice president of North America for Business France, a government agency focused on business development.
It has been Jour Numéro Un for Amazon in France since 2010. The retail giant has sunk more than 2 billion Euros into its French operations and employs more than 4,200 people across 13 offices and locations in the country. Amazon plans to bring on another 1,500 by year-end, said Emmanuel Lebrun-Damiens, French consul general in San Francisco. Microsoft also has a big office just south of Paris. Microsoft has about 650 French employees working out if its Redmond, Wash., headquarters and Amazon has another 250 in Seattle.
— E. Lebrun-Damiens (@elebrundamiens) September 15, 2017
The French connection with the Seattle area dates back decades to Boeing and various aerospace suppliers opening offices to be near the plane-maker. But over the years, both Seattle and Paris have turned into global tech hubs.
The relationship goes both ways. French companies are responsible for 7,200 jobs in the state, fifth among foreign nations. The French population in the Seattle area is approximately 10,000 people.
France offers a growing tech scene, buoyed by an explosion in venture capital. Its engineers boast an extensive expertise in mathematics, which translates to fields like Internet of Things and biotech, among others.
France’s youth are thinking differently than prior generations, with more than half wanting to run their own company rather than work for someone else. Lebrun-Damiens said he sees a similar entrepreneurial spirit developing in Seattle thanks to the big homegrown companies as well education institutions like the University of Washington and its Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering.
“You have this talent pool, and then you’ve got some godfathers, big executives like Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos … and they created these big companies,” Lebrun-Damiens said. “At the some time, politicians in Seattle invested in that economy, and everything comes out at the same time and then it blooms.”