On Thursday 3 September 2020, the government announced the amount of the stimulus package adopted to revitalise the economy after the record recession in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. 100 billion euros will be released to get France’s economic machinery working again. Notably, out of this 100 billion, more than 7% (i.e. 7.1 billion euros) will be exclusively committed over two years in the form of participation in fund-raising, support for the digital transformation of companies and government services, but also through training in digital professions. It aims to boost the digital economy by supporting innovation, start-ups and reducing the digital divide through the digitisation of society and businesses.
With such a large allocation (four times more than the amount in the 2008 stimulus plan), the government officially states that it is counting on accelerating the digital transition to boost the national economy.
The tone is set by Cédric O., Secretary of State for Digital: “Digital is one of the pillars of this recovery plan, like the environment”, adding that it is time to “accelerate the growth of the French Tech ecosystem and strengthen our digital sovereignty”.
Startups are the big winners of the initiative, with 3.7 billion reserved solely for their support and that of strategic digital technologies. The measure comes after 4 billion had already been announced to support the latter last March. Of this new 3,7 billion, 2.4 billion will be allocated exclusively to “breakthrough” digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, quantum intelligence, digital health and the cloud. Last but not least, 500 million of this amount will be earmarked for fundraising for new French companies.
This will be reflected, among other things, by a significant 60% increase in Bpifrance’s innovation aid over two years to reach a total of 800 million euros. This is intended to indicate to startups which channels to turn to, particularly for early stage development, promising great opportunities following the crisis (the 2008 stimulus plan was also a strong accelerating factor in the ecosystem).
The rest of the stimulus plan allocated to digital, more broadly speaking, will be dedicated to digital accessibility, training and the digital transition of companies and the State.
After an unstable and difficult economic period for the vast majority of the world’s economic players, this initiative by the French government aims to close the traditional gap between American Gafa (and other digital giants) and French companies. By allocating 7.1 billion dollars to the specific digital sector, the government intends to establish solid French technological sovereignty by encouraging the development and know-how of French start-ups to enable them to become European and world leaders in their field.
Until now, France has never before defined such a clear priority for digital technology, which in the long run could penalise French companies, leaving them unable to develop sufficiently to compete.
An economically and symbolically strong measure, therefore, which says a lot about the main lines of France’s competitiveness strategy on a European and global scale. This welcome emphasis supports the transition encouraged by Cube and the promotion of digital accessibility and entrepreneurship thanks to the breakthrough Low-Code technology. By further opening up the field of possibilities, this initiative is another clear proof that the time seems right to embark on entrepreneurship and start building a better society.