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Day 6 - IFA International

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French Minister Underlines Need for European Digital Harmonisation IFA+ Summit opens with powerful presentation by Axelle Lemaire, France’s Minister of State for Digital Affairs Axelle Lemaire, France’s Minister of State for Digital Affairs made a major impact with her opening speech at this year’s IFA+ Summit. Lemaire has been the Minister of State for Digital Affairs, France since April 2014. She calls her position the “portfolio for imagination”. At the IFA+ Summit, Lemaire discussed the challenge of increased integration of European policies concerning start-up innovation in order to promote a competitive European model in the face of international competition. In her opening speech, Lemaire said, “When a French Minister visits Germany, you’d normally expect him or her to talk about Europe. I don’t intend to depart from this practice for the simple reason that the expansion of the digital economy in both our countries is inextricably linked to the existence of this European economic, political and social area that we’ve built together.” While François Hollande and Angela Merkel spoke during their recent meetings in Evian about making digital issues a priority in Europe, Lemaire’s visit to Berlin aims to move the agenda forward to solidify broader ideas and concepts. The Minister met with French tech start-ups present at IFA, and exchanged ideas with a panel of French entrepreneurs on the "French Tech Hub Berlin" project. Brigitte Zypries, Parliamentary Secretary of State to the Federal Minister of the Economy and Energy, was also present for the meeting. In Berlin, Lemaire also held discussions with Matthias Machnig, State Secretary to the Federal Minister of the Economy and Energy, about the data economy, the financing of start-ups, digital platform, the revision of the teleco package, but also the Franco-German conference on digital matters to be held on 13 December in Berlin. Ms Lemaire leveraged the IFA+ Summit to make a call for greater harmony in Europe’s digital economy. “Over and above considerations of nationality, start-ups in both our countries are first and foremost European,” said Lemaire. “It’s only natural that entrepreneurs belonging to the Erasmus generation, who plotted out their career paths between France and cities such as Berlin and London, kept international expansion of their businesses in mind from the outset.” Concerning French Tech Hub, a government initiative to offer the best talents, resources and services for French entrepreneurs with ambitions to tackle US and global markets, Lemaire noted that 20 French Tech Hubs have been established in the world’s major economic centres such as New York, San Francisco, Tokyo, Tel Aviv, Hong Kong, Moscow and Berlin. Lemaire also commended the European Commission for having launched, last spring, a major public consultation under the Startup Initiative to get direct feedback from stakeholders: “In this respect, I launched the participatory website The aim was to aggregate the opinions of French start-ups to provide input for France’s official proposals.” The initiative will help to consolidate a booming French start-up scene. At the IFA+ Summit, Lemaire described recent big deals done by top French start-ups, including Deezer, the leading music-ondemand site. She added that such tech industry success typified a broader European “passion for entrepreneurship, a willingness, especially coming from the younger people, to emancipate themselves individually and collectively for the future.” In Paris, such passion will be galvanised around the Station F start-up hub that is due to open next year. “[This] huge hub is an open space for 1,000 start-ups, but also for public agencies, for private investors, for private people who want to come and see what’s going on in the tech scene in France,” said Lemaire. The Station F hub will add to promising investment growth in French start-ups. “Investment in the French start-up ecosystem doubled within one year, and we’re seeing the same trend at the moment,” said Lemaire of venture capital investments in France that increased to €1.8b in 2015. “One has to be optimistic when looking at this figure in France,” she added Axelle Lemaire France’s Minister of State for Digital Affairs OVER AND ABOVE CONSIDERATIONS OF NATIONALITY, START-UPS IN BOTH OUR COUNTRIES ARE FIRST AND FOREMOST EUROPEAN (...) IFA International • Wednesday 7 th September 2016 15

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