By Ravit Lichtenberg (blog)

[LeWeb 08, Paris] On his way to meet President Nikolas Sarkozy, Mr. Eric Besson—France State Secretary for Prospective and Evaluation of Public Policies and Intent stopped by to informal discuss France’s strategy for supporting startups.

Infrastructure content are free in France and the French enjoy over 95% broadband coverage in France. The government is introducing fiber optic to make sure people have the highest internet speed. By November 2011, Besson says France will switch over to digital transition of television and invest in developing the mobile internet.

What is the French government doing to help startups?

  • Creating infrastructure: High speed internet access makes the environment internet-friendly, and learning from Silicon Valley how to build upon that.
  • Creating an environment where people are willing to take capital risks
  • Sarkozy has allocated 20 Billion Euro to help small companies and 6 billion to re-launch the infrastructure.
  • Doing benchmarking with Britain but, France of course will do better than Britain—already invested 3 billion Euro in Startups via a government fund.

About tax infrastructure and localization/globalization

  • Companies are never going to pay more than 50% tax
  • Tax at the highest bracket can reduced by investing in startups
  • Taking French companies globally- reforms, France considers it necessary to invest in the future. Similarly to Formula 1 or indie500 model, as safety car going around the racetrack, you need to quickly change your strategy by going to the pit stop, changing tires, so that safety cars own the track. So France is looking at the economic downturn as a time of opportunity to Sarkozy made a decision to use this crisis as a moment to catch up quickly, and invest in the future.
  • France is looking into creating standards for mobile internet—just like what happened with the norm of GSM in Europe. If Europe can make an agreement for the usage of these frequencies, we’ll create a very favorable environment.

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