Jonah Balfour

The French Connection – How Israel Can Benefit from the Thriving French Tech Scene

Through my work in tech PR, I have the privilege to interact with startups from Israel and all over the world. One country in particular that has stood out, is France. Just recently we worked with Holi to launch its crowdfunding campaign for Bonjour. Before that I had the opportunity to help promote both edjing and Lima, two exciting startups building interesting products for two very different markets. Just the three companies named above represent vastly different sectors of the tech space, ranging from IoT, to music creation apps, and Cloud.

When people think of Tel Aviv, that kind of diversity in startups seems obvious. Tel Aviv is a well known hub and thriving startup ecosystem. However, France has been overlooked when it comes to the success of its tech entrepreneurs. This is all the more ironic considering the fact that entrepreneur is originally a French word. The bottom line, it that there is a big opportunity for Israeli tech entrepreneurs, developers, investors, and other Startup Nation insiders to tap into the burgeoning French startup scene.

Credit: CC BY 2.0, alecea, Flickr
Credit: CC BY 2.0, alecea, Flickr

In Paris alone, there are roughly 20,000 startups helping to fuel the growth of the tech ecosystem there, and that growth is expanding into the rest of the country. These startups put Paris ahead of Berlin and just behind London in terms of the size of the ecosystems. Currently, the hottest areas of development are in big data, IoT, Biotech, Medtech, and the sharing economy.

Some key statistics illustrate the success of the French tech ecosystem:

  • The country is ranked first in Europe for investment deals made in 2016
  • France has the second largest venture capital ecosystem in Europe
  • Venture capital investment in French startups grew significantly in the first half of 2015, with €759 million raised through 244 deals

In addition, a number of so-called tech unicorns – companies valued at over $1 billion – have emerged from the country. Companies such as BlaBlaCar, Criteo, Vente-Privée, and others show that France is not only creating startups, but also building enterprise scale companies and could serve as a major source of exits for investors.

All of this shows that, whether you are looking for talent, investment, or potential technology or business partners, France needs to be integrated more deeply into Israel’s tech consciousness.

The stats were shared with me by La French Tech, an umbrella organization sponsored by the French government and private businesses that works to promote the French tech industry. Founded by French Minister Delegate with responsibility for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, Innovation, and the Digital Economy, Fleur Pellerin – the organization works to bring greater visibility to French startups and tech companies.

I’m excited to see the work La French Tech is doing, helping to bring greater visibility to the emerging French tech scene, and I hope Israeli entrepreneurs will take notice and work to tap into the innovation happening in the country. The rise of the French tech scene is actually a perfect fit for Israel, which is already home to an established and growing community of Jews of French origin. This community could serve as another critical bridge back to France, helping to bring the two tech ecosystems even closer together.

About the Author
Jonah Balfour is an avid fan of technology, Apple, and Israel. He has worked with some of the hottest Israeli startups and is an evangelist for the Israeli tech industry as a whole.