It seems that Minister Pellerin’s two big trips to South Korea and efforts to improve trade relations between France and Seoul are starting to bear fruit. Samsung has announced that they’ll be opening a new digital content development center in France. The idea of locating the development center in France was reportedly first discussed between Samsung president JK Shin and French PM Ayrault during the PM’s recent visit to Seoul. The France-based development center is set to be operational in Q2 2014, kicking off with 20 collaborators and reaching a goal of 100 collaborators by end 2014.
The center, which will be called the Media Solutions Center, part of a strategic effort by Samsung to create an active ecosystem (apps and services) around their mobile devices, enabling them to make up lost ground vis-a-vis mobile ecosystem leaders Google, Apple and Amazon. In order to scale up quickly, Samsung will be looking to collaborate with startups specializing in digital content creation. Samsung will also be looking to commercialize any apps or content coming out of the center on a global scale, so will offer visibility to French startups outside the French market. No details yet on how Samsung will work with the startups (i.e. commercial agreement, specific support, etc), but encouraging that their first instinct is to turn to France’s startup community to help fuel this initiative.
Pellerin and Montebourg are clearly overjoyed about the news. Smartly, Pellerin has dedicated significant time and effort to encouraging more Korean tech firms to set up shop in France, so hopefully this is the first of many. Samsung has actually had a presence in France for 25 years and has doubled its France-based employees over the last 5 years. No word yet though on where the center will be located or whether this is more of a symbolic move rather than a substantial investment bringing several high-quality jobs to France. At the very least though, this is an initial sign that the government’s efforts to sell France as tech talent hub may be starting to pay off. It’s still very much early days, but this is a good step in the right direction.