French president Emmanuel Macron has announced that he has convinced institutional investors to plough €5 billion ($5.5bn) into late-stage VC funds and asset managers, as the country opens one of its tech calendar’s most important events.
Speaking ahead of France Digitale Day, which opened in Paris this morning, Macron, who has made many previous overtures to his nation’s growing tech sector, claimed that France will have “€2 billion that will go in so-called late-stage funds and €3 billion for funds managed by asset managers specialized in tech companies.”
Macron, who took office in 2017, has long championed France’s technology industry—which in recent years has produced global brands like BlaBlaCar and Criteo, and spawned Paris’ own sprawling Station F, the world’s largest startup facility. In 2012 Macron helped created bpifrance, a sovereign fund with around €18bn ($19.8bn) in assets under management, which has led a modern French tech charge.
“I’m talking about the jobs of tomorrow,” Macron said yesterday. “And I’m saying that for many French citizens who think that those are only financial numbers.”
Jobs—accessible ones, at that—are vital to Macron’s political survival. Social and economic anxiety during his rule has birthed the Gilets Jaunes (“Yellow Vests”), a populist, grassroots movement whose adherents still protest in the French capital. Macron’s approval rating plummeted in 2019, but has since hopped to a merely-bad 34%, according to a poll published in newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche last month.
His priority on late-stage investment aims to plug an economic gap in France. Seed, A- and B-round financing is rife in the country, but bigger firms often seek large, later rounds outside France. Though figures are rising by up to 33% each year, Macron told yesterday’s audience that, “We should be one of the countries that matter.”
Only a third of the investors sought by Macron are public. The private majority can take part in his initiative may do so by creating their own late-stage fund; invest in funds managed by third parties; or invest in a fund-of-funds run by BPI. The goal, as France Digitale Day’s website suggests, is to create French-run, French-backed unicorns.
When that occurs in greater numbers, Macron said, France will become a nation of “technological and economical sovereignty.”