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Hollande pledges French hi-tech boost on Silicon Valley visit

French President Francois Hollande (L) embraces CEO and co-founder of Kwarter Carlos Diaz on his visit to Silicon Valley
French President Francois Hollande (L) embraces CEO and co-founder of Kwarter Carlos Diaz on his visit to Silicon Valley Reuters/Robert Galbraith

French President François Hollande met business leaders in California's Silicon Valley and  announced measures to boost innovation and start-ups in France on the last day of his state visit to the United States.

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"France must recognise the dynamism of its entrepreneurs," said Hollande and he went on to promise a new drive for crowdfunding, with the adoption of an initiative next  month that will promote the financial method popular in the United States.

The visit, aimed at renewing the partnership between the two long-standing allies, was also a way for Hollande to witness the economic recovery in the United States, which he described as "an opportunity for Europe".

Hollande also revived the idea of "talent passports" for foreign innovators and entrepreneurs and called on the president of the Medef, the French employers' union, to encourage French firms to make similar offers to students ending their studies as those made in California.

"I think what is important is that the current government and its president came to the US to see a country that is moving forward," Medef president Pierre Gattaz, who was on the delegation, said. "A country which is rapidly picking itself up from the economic crisis".

Earlier in the trip Gattaz angered the Socialist government by insisting that bosses should not be tied to concrete job-creation commitments in the Responsibility Pact currently being negotiated.

New Technology Minister Fleur Pellerin was more guarded than Gattaz.

"It's always interesting to see what works well in other countries, but it’s impossible to simply replicate a system, to copy it and do the same in France," she said. "So the idea is not to say 'we’ll look at what people are doing here and we’ll do the same in France'.That makes no sense. Instead, we want to talk to entrepreneurs and investors to understand about what made Silicon Valley the success it is today."

French Industrial Renewal Minister Arnaud Montebourg called on the French to be more positive about their country.

"We’ve met some of the big American companies who are present in France and who want to invest in our country," he said. "They told the president that they believe in our policies and will continue to invest in France. France is very much loved and I would like French people to be less harsh on their own country, as Americans and foreigners continue to express not only their friendship but also their admiration for France."

 

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