And if you’re wondering how serious Macron really is about turning the nation into a kind of Silicon Valley 2.0, look no further than Station F.
The sprawling $267 million startup campus officially opened today in Paris, and Macron was on hand to host the ceremony.
“It is your generation’s responsibility to change the country,” Macron said, directing his remarks to the millennial entrepreneurs in the crowd. “But don’t think that, if you succeed, everything is done. No. Transform our country.”
Capable of holding some 1,000 companies, startups and VC firms, Station F will be the world’s largest startup campus when entrepreneurs begin filing in for work this coming Monday.
Anchor clients include Facebook and AirBNB, plus a long list of French investment houses, accelerators and firms, including BNP Paribas, Usine IO and Ubisoft. The idea is to lure entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley and elsewhere to Station F and France in general, officials said. Unlike the US, which is moving away from opening up to foreign work, France now is welcoming Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and others to the nation via its new, simplified fast track visa program.
Former French President François Hollande will have an office there, a representative told aNewDomain earlier this month. (This reporter was one of six U.S. journalists invited to tour the facility in mid June.)
Below: French Pres. Emmanuel Macron and Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo open Station F (June 29, 2017)
Conceived by French tech billionaire Xavier Niel, the campus will hold some 1,000 startups the east side Paris location, which once was an urban train station.
Why Paris? According to Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, the city “has always been a place where people come together to break new ground.” Speaking at a Station F press conference in January, she added:
“Paris has a thriving tech scene,” said Sandberg. “Entrepreneurs are the engine of economic growth all over the world. At Facebook, there’s nothing we care about more than supporting them …”
The cavernous startup campus, which I toured as part of a French Tech press tour earlier this month, will have 3,000 desks for startup employees, plus a conference space and a bar that will be open 24/7.
There will be eventually be a nearby apartment house for entrepreneurs, Niel told me last week.
Interested entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley and elsewhere in the world can apply to the Station F Founders Program here.
Varza, a former Silicon Valley tech journalist, is acting director of the project. She didn’t mince words about the role Station F hopes to play.
“About 90 percent of problems entrepreneurs encounter can be solved by other entrepreneurs,” she quipped at a press conference late last year.
“We’re not doing any babysitting or any bullshit mentoring. We’re putting resources at their fingertips.”