Tech City: French government-backed start up comes to London

Over 200 people showed up to the launch of French Tech London on April 13

Over 200 people showed up to the launch of French Tech London on April 13 - Credit: Archant

Tech City is the third largest technology hub in the world, and it’s right on our doorstep. Each week, we bring you news from the thriving area around Old Street Roundabout. This week Tom Dare chats to Albin Serviant, Coordinator of French Tech London - an initiative set up by the French government to give technology start-ups a helping hand.

Albin Serviant, French Tech London coordinator

Albin Serviant, French Tech London coordinator - Credit: Archant

Cutting edge technology start-ups isn’t a phrase that springs to mind when you think of France.

But French Tech London, an initiative set up by the French government and French businesses in London, is hoping to change that.

Launched last month in Kings Cross, French Tech London is their answer to Tech City, aiming to give start-ups and entrepreneurs the tools to succeed here in the capital.

The scheme, which began in Paris in 2013, has been steadily branching out since its inception, with London the latest destination on its list.

“The French community involved in the tech industry in London is very strong” says Albin Serviant, CEO of and French Tech London coordinator.

“This idea is to help entrepreneurs find their way in London and to create a network to help them succeed. And obviously it’s to help French Tech shine abroad. We really want to open up to your ecosystem, which in particular means working with Tech City.”

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Yet while this new initiative is only just getting off the ground, French technology companies have already established quite a pedigree in London, with companies such as Photobox and already featuring in Tech City’s future 50 list.

And with 120 start-ups signed up already, Albin sees this number increasing with the help of French Tech London.

“My estimate is that there may be something like 400 start-ups by the end of the year within the UK,” he said.

“The idea is to map it all, in data form, so that it’s easier for French entrepreneurs arriving in London to know where to go, where to network and who to contact.”

With between 300,000 and 400,000 French people living in London, the potential for French businesses abroad is quite evident.

French Tech London already has over 4,500 members across its social network platforms and aims to bring these people together by acting as a hub for networking groups such as Frog Valley, French Connect London and French Digital.

But why London? While French Tech has also launched initiatives in New York and Tokyo, the appeal is obvious to Albin.

“I think London is all about international start ups, that’s the aim of Tech City. It’s about making sure London is the capital for start-ups, and I think that’s been pretty successful.

“The fact it’s such an international city makes it easier for an international company to operate here.

“So for example if I want to set up offices in Brazil and need a team who speak Portuguese, I can set up a team quickly here in London.

“You have so many different nationalities here, so international companies can operate from London in several different countries.”

The growth of French Tech London is something which is being pursued vigorously by the French government.

The idea only formulated in

November last year, but was soon pushed through by the government, who see advancing French technology abroad as a key strategy for the future.

“The French entrepreneurial community is an extraordinary asset for our country” said Emmanuel Macron, French Minister for the economy, at an event earlier this year.

“French Tech needs its community of entrepreneurs today to take their drive to the next level and help develop French start-ups and France’s image worldwide”

And with backing like this, Albin sees no end to the growth of French start-ups.

Having founded the networking group French Connect London over three years ago, he sees the establishment of the company as a huge step in the right direction.

He said: “Being connected to such an important network is very important for me. You can contact people faster, discover new and innovative start-ups that you can partner with faster.

“When I came here three years ago I saw some networking happening, but it was very random and wasn’t connected. So now we need to make sure we make the most of it, and that really is the point of French Tech London.”