UPDATE: This article originally suggested the space would be 100Km² – that is the amount of total incubator space in Paris. 1000 Startups will be 30Km², and the article has been updated to reflect that.
Yesterday at Paris’ classic town-hall Hôtel de Ville, the city of Paris officially launched the anxiously anticipated and much debated 1000 Startups @ La Halle Freyssinet project, which will be largely financed by Xavier Niel with additional financial support from the Caisse des Dépôts. Starting in 2016, the Halle Freyssinet, an old shipping and freight center in Paris 13th arrondissement previously owned by SNCF and now used as a conference center, will be completely transformed into a massive tech incubator with 30,000m² of co-working and office space, accelerators, incubators, event facilities, and other services focusing on the tech community. 30,000m² of the space will be specifically targeted to the 1000 startups the project owners are looking to attract into the space. The city is also hoping that the new tech hub will help to revitalize the area around Halle Freyssinet which would certainly welcome the economic boost.
Although questions still remain about connecting Paris’ current tech-hub, namely the Sentier area, with the future Halle Freyssinet tech-hub, what they have planned does look really exciting. The design is well conceived, attractive and, assuming all pretty much proceeds as planned, will likely be a welcoming hub of activity for tech talent from France and further afield. When the idea to do this was first proposed and the possibility was evoked by Minister Pellerin that the new tech-hub could be outside of Paris, there was quite a bit of commentary from the tech community, media (including Rude Baguette) and others that locating it in Paris would be the wiser choice. The government, smartly, opened up an online initiative to gather feedback from the wider tech community on the project, which clearly looks to have been taken to heart.
— Rude Baguette (@RudeBaguette) September 25, 2013
Another wise move was getting a private sector star such as Xavier Niel to agree to largely finance the project. Knowing that they no longer have the (financial) means or, perhaps, the know-how to take on projects such as this, the government is clearly looking to the public-private model as a way to both achieve some of their goals and get the business community and its leaders more involved in the development of France’s digital economy.
This big, audacious initiative for the city, government and, of course, the consortium leading the build-out (lead by Xavier Niel and Jean-Pierre Jouyet DG of Caisse des Dépôts) is one which France should be publicizing globally. The fact that the English version of the site was available from day 1 of the project launch, is a good sign that they have every intention of leveraging this initiative to show that France, and particularly Paris, is very serious about increasing its prominence on the global digital stage.
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