Wednesday 18 January 2017 5:51 pm

The French Touch Abounds in Tech

The French tech scene has the most active sovereign wealth funds in the world, according to research firm, CB Insights.

Two French funds make the top half of the top-ten, which also includes state funds from Singapore, Malaysia, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and China.

France’s Banque Publique d’Investissement (Bpifrance) sits atop the list as the sovereign tech investor which has financed the highest number of tech companies over the last seven years. It has $27bn under management.

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Bpifrance has 300 start-ups in its portfolio. It also backs La French Tech, a government backed marketing hub for the French tech scene.

Antoine Boulay, the chief external relations officer from Bpifrance says the fund helps start-ups to grow beyond financing and offers courses and learning expeditions to Silicon Valley and China.

“People say we have a way of doing innovation – French tech cannot be separated from a French touch,” says Boulay who believes the success of French engineers is rooted in their creativity.

Boulay says the French tech scene benefited from long term policy decisions created in the 1990s that welcomed venture capital activity.

France’s strong tradition in medicine and bio-technology has given start ups a route to funding in a scene that Boulay says, “was already booming. French kids don’t want to work at Total or Renault these days. There is a movement of love for tech”.

Sovereign investment funds doubled the amount of deals that were done in 2015 and investment activity increased last year by 8.5bn.

France’s Caisse des Depots et Consignations (CDC) comes in fifth on the list. It also owns 40 per cent of Bpifrance but they don't invest in the same tech companies.

Temasek Holdings, which sends proceeds back to Singapore’s Ministry of Finance and GIC, the private investment arm of the Singapore Investment Corporation, were the world’s most second and third most active tech funds.

Maylasia, the fourth most active investor lent its money to the areas of e-commerce and internet software companies with its Kazanah Nasional Berhad fund slotting in as the fourth most active investor.

The Kuwait Investment Authority, the Qatar Investment Authority, and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia – which famously had a huge funding round for Uber – represented the Middle East.

Alibaba scored the highest equity deal when China Investment Corporation invested $4.5b in a Series B funding round for the Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial Services. China Investment Corporation also invested in Didi Chuxing, the Chinese ride sharing company.