Paris aims to lure UK tech talent with new campus


A start-up campus, touted as the world’s biggest, has launched in Paris with plans for it to help transform France’s tech sector.

Station F, a former railway station built in 1929, is now home to 1,000 technology start-up companies from around the world.

Those behind the project hope that the 34,000-square-metre space, based on the height of the Eiffel Tower, will take advantage of post-Brexit uncertainty and lure entrepreneurs across the channel.

French telecoms billionaire Xavier Niel has invested €250m.

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Paris lures tech talent with new campus

It also has former Silicon Valley native Roxanne Varza running it.

“A lot of political factors play into the current climate that we have here in France,” she told Sky News.

“Start-ups that have applied here have said that things like Brexit, Donald Trump and high Silicon Valley prices have actually played into why they look at coming to Station F and why they want to come to France.

“Obviously there is kind of this funny race about who will be the next big tech hub with Brexit and stuff like that.

“But our ambition is to just provide the most value that we possibly can.”

Start-ups from several different industries and venture capital funds are all under one roof.

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Interior view of Station F in Paris, France

Facebook and Microsoft have also launched their own start-up accelerators in the building, running workshops for young companies to learn from them and, in turn, help them to innovate too.

The project also has the support of the country’s new president, Emmanuel Macron, who attended the opening.

He has pledged €10bn to help turn France into a start-up nation and has vowed to change laws to assist job creation in the sector.

However, Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of London First, said the UK is ready for the competition and post-Brexit challenges.

“Projects to attract the tech sector to other capital cities, such as in Paris, is something that London will be keeping its eye on but we have many of those projects here in London and they are going very well,” she said.

“The tech sector is alive and thriving and one of the fastest-growing sectors in London, so there is no reason why that should not continue and for London to be able to continue its status as one of the best cities in the world for business, including for tech.

“The critical thing is staying open to that talent from across Europe and around the world so that message has got to be sent loud and clear by government and by business, and that really is what London has to focus on.”

Founder and CEO of TechHub, Elizabeth Varley, said: “While I think the Government should do more to support tech talent in the UK, it’s really the wider business environment that is the greatest strength of London as an ecosystem for start-ups.

“Tech companies need to be where their investors are, and certainly where their customers are if they’re working with big business.

“London is a global business city, like New York is a global business city. These cities can support high-growth technology businesses because technology has always been about more than just tech.”

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