French President Emmanuel Macron has outlined an ambitious goal for Europe to compete with the US by encouraging the creation of 10 technology companies worth €100 billion (£86 billion) each by 2030.
While the Europe region is home to many of the world’s top-rated research institutions and other centers of technical expertise, the world’s largest technology companies are based in the US and East Asia.
EU leaders hope to support the translation of research into commercial application, with a particular focus on developing proprietary supply chains for semiconductors, quantum information and other critical technologies.
France is leading a regional effort to boost funding for start-ups, particularly in later growth stages, to attract more attractive investors and employees and incentivize them to compete with large established companies.
Macron has advocated making France a “start-up nation” since he took office in 2017. However, his efforts to support the creation of “unicorns” (startups worth at least $1 billion) remain eclipsed by American equivalents.
Last year, Macron said he expected France to have 25 unicorns by 2025 (up from 15 in 2021 and three in 2017).
“In France, we have a record where we can say it’s incredible,” Macron said, speaking at the Elysée Palace, which hosted an event for European start-ups. It was attended by about 100 investors and entrepreneurs, and a dozen ministers.
The Scale-Up group, which unites European start-ups, presented 21 of its own recommendations for growing tech companies to Macron’s office, some of which were adopted.
For example, Macron has endorsed his recommendation to introduce a “European technical visa” to facilitate traffic in the region. Macron hopes to produce 10 tech companies with market caps of €100 billion (£86 billion) by the end of the decade:
roughly the size of Zoom, Uber or Snap. The objective is based on recommendations from a study group.
The scheme includes stepping up funding schemes through EU-wide funding and by encouraging more venture capital funds to invest in start-ups, according to a manifesto signed by some 200 companies.
The scheme recommends updating EU regulations and creating more competitive stock option plans to help technology companies grow.
It will also support “deep tech” – technology that relies heavily on new science and engineering – by enhancing the role of the European Innovation Council.
The scheme will feed into France’s digital agenda for the EU Council presidency, which starts in January 2022. Macron said at the event that France would issue new rules during the presidency:
“There is no sovereignty without local champions. The first sovereignty is industrial, business related. The second is regulation and the two go together. Without regulations, there are no standards.” He added that Europe must:
“Strengthen the single market, build a true digital single market, get the job done for market capital and financing the economy.”