By Elaine Burke
Late last year, Atomico’s 2022 State of European Tech report declared that France had overtaken the UK as a tech nation, in a ranking based on public tech market cap.
France’s private tech sector is also on an upward trajectory. While the UK’s tech start-ups remain Europe’s most-funded, investment there dropped 22 per cent year-on-year.
Germany, another leading tech nation, saw a drop of 43 per cent. France, however, was one of the only large European nations to see an annual investment figure on par with 2021.
Add to that the strong government support for both French entrepreneurs and those choosing to set up companies in France, and you have the necessary ingredients for a thriving tech ecosystem.
France’s 2030 Vision
The France 2030 plan set out in 2021 by President Emmanuel Macron committed €30 billion to creating the “high-tech champions of the future”. Macron has also signalled that he wants to see 100 French tech unicorns by 2030. With the current count at 26, France is just over a quarter of the way there.
Of those 26 unicorns, 20 are headquartered in Paris, a hotbed of start-up activity. Startup Genome counts 12,000 start-ups in the city’s greater metropolitan area, which is more than both London and Berlin.
Lots of scaling start-ups means plenty of active recruitment, and jobseekers have taken note.
The State of European Tech report noted that France has seen the strongest growth in tech-focused job searches of any European country. It makes for a competitive market for workers, too.
The average software engineer salary in Paris in 2021 was $52,000 (€48,332) per year, above the global average of $46,000 (€42,756), according to Startup Genome.
French tech visa
French start-ups hoping to attract the talent they need from all over the world have been able to do so through a specialised visa scheme.
The new French Tech visa, announced in 2019, has been developed to enable entrepreneurs, and the talent they need, to live and work in France.
According to La French Tech, it is “an open invitation” for tech talent to join the French start-up ecosystem. The process has been simplified with a fast-track scheme for non-EU start-up employees, founders and investors.
Valid for four years and renewable, the visa automatically extends to the recipient’s spouse and children. It has no diploma requirements, but it does require a work contract with an eligible company which meets a salary requirement.
Touted as the world’s most accessible start-up employee visa, this is what will enable start-ups across France to hire thousands of tech workers in the coming years.
France’s fintech unicorn hotspot
In Paris, that talent is likely to concentrate in the city’s key tech clusters.
Plans are well underway to turn Paris into the AI capital of Europe. This includes priority subsidies given to AI innovation projects in the region, and financial support for companies looking to beef up their business model with AI technologies.
While AI has been identified as the future for Paris, its present is dominated by fintech with the majority of the city’s unicorns linked to this sector.
Europe’s first unicorn announcement of 2022 came from PayFit, which provides cloud-based payroll software to companies across Europe from its headquarters in Paris.
Along with a €254 million Series E funding round last year, the company announced hundreds of roles across all its offices. In Paris, it has open roles for a CTO as well as senior engineering staff.
Swile is another French fintech serving HR teams with its employee benefits card and app. It scored unicorn status in 2021 on the back of a $200 million (€173 million) Series D round led by SoftBank.
This year, Swile completed its acquisition of Bimpli, a competitor product. In Paris, the company is hiring for both tech and admin roles.
French unicorn Shift Technology applies AI to insurance fraud detection, neatly knitting together the two hottest tech sectors in Paris. With $540 million (€502 million) raised to date, some of this investment is funding the development of new insurtech products.
In Paris, the company is hiring across its data and dev teams to support this.
Paris also has fintech unicorns working in the Web3 space. Ledger, which builds hardware cryptocurrency wallets, has been growing quickly since it was founded in 2014 and it continues to seek tech talent to work in its Paris HQ.
Meanwhile, Sorare is applying Web3 technologies to the classic pastime of trading cards. Rapid investment in its NFT-based fantasy football virtual card game saw the company scale from start-up to unicorn in just four years.
Like many companies with offices in Paris, Sorare is seeking software engineering talent.
For more details on tech jobs on offer in the French capital, check out Euronews.jobs