After a long trip around the world, including Korea, Israel and the Silicon Valley, the Minister of SMEs, Innovation, and the Digital Economy Fleur Pellerin has given her thoughts in the form of a post on LinkedIn as one of LinkedIn’s influencers. Ignoring all sarcastic remarks about why she didn’t post on Viadeo, let’s get straight to the heart of her post:
“I have visited many places, from the Silicon Valley to Boston, from Israel to South Korea, to meet the innovation actors at work. By means of programmes such as “Say oui to France, say oui to innovation” and the “Digital Neighbourhoods” project, I want to give France the innovative appeal that our entrepreneurs so richly deserve!
Businessmen interested in coming to France would find out that we rank fourth among mature markets concerning business costs, 3.9% lower than the US baseline. They would be surprised to learn that total labor costs in France (salary, employer-paid statutory plans and other contributions) are lower than in the United States, Germany, the Netherlands and Japan. Transportation and utility costs are the lowest among mature markets. For digital operations and R&D, France has the lowest effective corporate income tax rates among mature economies.”
Pictured above with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Pellerin seems to really drive home the message of “come on, world – France isn’t that bad!” and in regular blog fashion, the comments reflect the general disagreement:
“Ms Pellerin has framed the debate with the wrong problem and therefore the wrong answer. Innovation is not the challenge. Business is the challenge for France. France is not short of ideas. Micro-computers, touch screens and smart card chips are all french inventions. But France has often failed to turn ideas into global products that customers will buy.” – Alex Coley, Technical Strategist – London
“I can’t think of a more un-innovative, more un-enterprising country than France or a more negative society with a punishing, stressful old-fashioned education system. And the surly, off-hand, un-commercial service in most Parisian cafes, restaurants and shops doesn’t make it very welcoming. Sorry to be so blunt mais il y a du pain sur la planche mes amis. Bon courage!” – Jon Duff, Corporate Journalist – Paris
“Time flies. April 1 again, obviously. Oh and that 75% tax rate probably won’t encourage many successful entrepreneurs to stick around once they’ve made it.” – Kevin McMahon, Finance & Accounting Executive – Denver
While Pellerin’s inaugural post looks to re-frame the discussion around France’s knack for innovation, the comments are more telling of France’s position than the Minister’s statements. A lack of business culture, an inability to commercialize, and unfriendly labor/business laws – these are the impressions that the outside world has of France, true or not, and until Pellerin starts addressing the concerns that the business world has about France, she might as well be posting on Viadeo.