French Tech Ticket for start-ups should be a wake-up call for the rest of Europe

30 Jun 2015

France has thrown its hat into the ring to make Paris the start-up capital of Europe. Other European cities should take note.

In a very generous package aimed at luring overseas tech start-up talent to France, Digital Economy Minister Axelle Lemaire has created a new visa package called the French Tech Ticket that should make other policymakers in Europe sit up and take note.

The French Tech Ticket, in alliance with the city of Paris, provides foreign entrepreneurs with a work visa, between US$14,000 and US$28,000 for each team member, free office space in an incubator and an English-speaking administrative adviser.

The move comes at a time when the competition between start-ups cities from London to Berlin to Dublin is increasing.

Already there are warnings that Dublin risks running out of start-up space, and Ireland has only recently improved its previously restrictive visa policy that made it difficult for multinationals to bring in overseas talent.

The French Tech Ticket kicks off in January 2016 and prospective start-ups must be willing to start up, speak English and stay at least six months in France. Every six months at least 50 people will be awarded the French Tech Ticket.

The move is similar to that of Chile, where every six months dozens of teams are granted a visa, a US$32,000 grant and free mentorship.

A rising tide lifts all boats

Dublin and other cities around Ireland like Galway, Cork and Limerick should be paying attention to moves like that in Chile and the French Tech Ticket if they want to breathe life into start-up communities in their cities.

The Irish Government predicts that more than 90,000 new jobs could come from start-ups in the coming years and Jobs Minister Richard Bruton TD said that two-thirds of new jobs in Ireland come from start-ups within their first five years.

However, it won’t be good enough to simply copy the French Tech Ticket, Ireland needs to create broader and more realistic policies aimed at encouraging tech talent in start-ups and multinationals to stay longer. Six months won’t cut it.

Ireland’s existence as the only English-speaking country in the Eurozone is already a formidable advantage and cities like Dublin, Cork and Galway are a lure for young tech talent from all over Europe who want to earn well and, most importantly, live well.

Many of these 20 or 30-somethings should be encouraged to stay as long as they see fit and put down roots if they so wish. Doing so would mean an even richer tapestry of talent and ensure revenue stays in the country.

But to encourage talent to stay will mean making Irish cities and towns good places to live, and this requires an unswerving focus on quality of life, infrastructure and amenities.

Already it has been proven that there is an intrinsic link between start-up activity and multinational foreign direct investment, and a visionary strategy that supports local and international start-ups alongside quality of life, and making Ireland the best place to live and not only do business, should be focused upon.

Paris image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years