Axelle Lemaire: “France has everything to be a leader in IoT”

Jun 19, 2014
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Connected Conference - Day 2 - Image by Dan Taylor - dan@heisenbergmedia.com-85

The deputy Minister for Digital Economy Axelle Lemaire announced today at the Connected Conference in Paris the launch of a “Plan Industriel” dedicated to the Internet of Things.

The “Plan Industriel” is one amongst 34 governmental programs to “re-conquer” the industrial policy in France. Each of them focuses on a promising field in France that shows particular potential: e-education, e-health, Big Data or IoT. According to the Deputy Minister, connected objects are currently revolutionizing our daily life, just as much smartphones have. The interest in connected objects has never reached such a magnitude, as show both the recent acquisition of Nest and the valuation of Jawbone. France’s position in the field is to be proud of, which is why the government is implementing a plan to strengthen France’s potential, approved this morning by Arnaud Montebourg, French Ministry of Economy.

The Plan, that contains a financial support of a few “tens of millions of euros” said the Deputy Minister, will include the implementation of a cluster located in Angers, a city that gathers electronic, plastics, metallurgy schools and universities along with a strong local industry (Eolane is located there, for instance). Open offices, prototyping tools and co-working spaces will be opened foster open innovation and accelerate the development of new projects. Luc Belot, Deputy of Maine et Loire, explained us the goal is not to integrate the whole value chain on French territory but to be able to prototype and produce small and medium sized series in France, where the decision making and R&D takes place.

Connected objects will also be publicized to consumers, through the promotion of show rooms in commercial and public spaces – including Axelle Lemaire’s own office ! – all across Europe.

The plan is designed to make sure the IoT is deeply integrated in the broader industrial landscape, which requires a common understanding and industry-let standards. In order to do so, around 200 stakeholders have been included in the making of the Plan, among which WithingsEric Carreel, its CEO, drafted the Plan – Sigfox, and Netatmo. A collaboration between big industrial leaders, the government and startups that can only be beneficial for everyone: as Axelle Lemaire points out, the administration is rather used to deal with industrial leaders, who have very strong R&D capacity but not the same reactivity than startups. She recalls hearing Eric Carreel “pitch” his plan in front of the Comity.

This multi-stakeholders collaboration also implied that startups had to get over their distrust of the government getting involved in their affairs – especially in a time of conflict around the “Credit Impot Recherche”, a tax incentive for R&D expenses, currently clouding the sky over the Ministry of Economy – “numerous countries, including the US, have real governmental strategies to support the digital industry and startups. Our startups are suspicious of or government!”.

Axelle Lemaire specified us: “the Plan Industriel is about a method, an awareness. It is part of a global initiative from the government to build a strong digital industry”. The ultimate aim for the Deputy Minister is not only to maintain France’s savoir-faire in Connected Objects but also to improve France’s “faire-savoir”, to “shout loud and clear” France’s leader position on the IoT in the world”.

 

Let us hope that France is finally playing ball with startups. This announcement shows at least an intent from the government to get trust from startups back, and to encourage the connected hardware ecosystem, including prototyping and first batch development, in France.

 

photo by Dan Taylor