Monday 18 March 2019 8:37 am

DEBATE: Could France overtake Britain for tech investment?

Could France overtake Britain for tech investment?

Kat Borlongan, director of the French Tech Mission, says YES.

There are number of misconceptions around doing business in France. A language barrier and extensive bureaucracy have perhaps deterred investors from funding some of the best tech startups, specialising in everything from artificial intelligence to smart cities. But these are just that – misconceptions.

Of particular interest to prospective investors should be a decree creating the French tech visa that came into effect on 1 March – startups that qualify for this scheme can hire anyone they want, from anywhere in the world, through this fast-tracked process.

France has the only startup visa scheme for employees in the world that is qualification agnostic; valid for four years for the employee, their spouse, and dependent children; free (there are no sponsorship fees; and fast-tracked.

According to CB Insights, there was a record amount of funding for French startups in 2017. With Brexit on the horizon, investors and entrepreneurs should know that there is more out there than Silicon Roundabout, and that they can thrive in another of Europe’s fast-paced digital economies.

Manjit Johal, chief technology officer and co-founder at Avora, says NO.

London is one of the world’s leading investment centres and Europe’s central hub for technology and innovation – possibly second only on a global stage to San Francisco.

The proof is in the pudding – the capital has produced some of the world’s most exciting businesses in artificial intelligence, cyber security, fintech, medtech, and many more.

London has a great and active startup community, with various meetups and events where you can meet like-minded entrepreneurs. For an industry like tech, those hub benefits really matter. It’s competitive, but an incredibly exciting place to start a tech business, and the appetite is there to fund the next generation of innovation.

The UK offers huge range of funding options for tech firms – from traditional VC investment to crowdfunding and government startup loan grants.

Whether you’re an embryonic startup or fast-growth scaleup, you can turn to the UK’s accelerators for guidance and connections, while enjoying the tax incentives that help you get your business moving. What other country can compete with that?

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.