Creativity: a quintessentially French trait
French ingenuity is rooted in creativity and innovation. For centuries, our thinkers, writers, artists, researchers and scientists have worked to uplift and better humanity, to help the world make progress and live in freedom, to spread ideas and forward-thinking ideals. From Molière to Matisse, from Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot to Luc Montagnier, the French have shared their country’s greatest, most universal achievements with the world.
Today, new generations are taking up the baton and carrying on this tradition of creative genius that forms part of our national identity. Thousands of French SMEs and start-ups are at the forefront of technological innovation, working daily to invent the products, services and solutions that will shape the future.These innovators continue to make France a hotbed of innovation and to export this national treasure worldwide. International observers are spot on in their assessment of France as the world leader in creativity.
We view this wonderful recognition with real pride. But it’s also a source of motivation to improve further and redouble our efforts towards creating the most conducive environment for today’s creators to realise their potential and for those of the future to spread their wings.
Our aim is therefore to establish a lasting, positive dialogue with a wide audience about ‘France, Inc.’ and its ability to innovate. We are setting out to demonstrate what makes France unique: unparalleled creativity paired with a very Gallic, serious-minded approach synonymous with excellence and discipline. This, in turn, will boost the growth of French companies abroad, strengthen the country’s business appeal with investors and generally build a positive image of France as a place for doing business.
Talent forms the basis of all creative works. But talent alone is not enough. We are not a nation of 65 million dreamers and romantics. Each day, our researchers and creators demonstrate – through determination, discipline and precision – their ability to bring their ideas to life.
French creativity is synonymous with innovation, but also with business. Simply put, French creativity isn’t an abstract concept; it creates value and spurs job growth.
It took 20 years of close cooperation between Dr Alain Carpentier, a surgeon and cardiologist, and the Lagardère group, to develop CARMAT, the first total artificial heart with ventricles.
BlaBlaCar, the leader in ridesharing, is certainly the product of an innovative, disruptive idea, but launching the company also required a dose of pragmatism and the desire to sell a service to millions of users.
Discipline and perseverance are also the watchwords of Sandra Rey, a young engineer determined to find a less costly, more environmentally-friendly alternative to public lighting systems as they exist today. Rey designed and developed an electricity-free process for lighting streets and shops, using the bioluminescent properties of bacteria and microorganisms. In 2014, she founded Glowee, and the company’s first solutions will soon be available on the market.
Another means of promoting creativity is to provide creators with the best possible working conditions in order to establish an environment in which their talent will thrive.
France boasts some tremendous assets that help create these conditions: its geographic location in the heart of Europe, excellent quality of life recognised worldwide, exceptional infrastructure, a powerful industrial backbone and internationally renowned universities that train first-class engineers – several of whom now lead research teams in large international corporations around the world.
These strengths, which play a major role in France’s appeal, are paired with a legislative framework that is designed to provide a strong boost to R&D activities, including a research tax credit and the BpiFrance innovation fund.
Together, these uniquely French assets combine to form an ecosystem that attracts companies of all sizes, from all sectors and countries.
The Belgian company Solvay, for instance, has made a number of investments in France – especially in R&D – across different eras since establishing operations in our country in 1873. Just recently, the South Korean multinational Samsung announced plans to invest in a French start-up, Sigfox, in order to pursue the long-term development of the fledgling firm’s range of connected objects.
France has also successfully courted Facebook, which will soon open an artificial intelligence research lab in Paris. And as part of its international expansion, Japanese cosmetics leader Shiseido has decided to make France its European hub. Not to mention the Google Cultural Institute, which has also made France its base of operations.