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The Emergence of AI in France


France holds the second-largest economy in the European Union, just behind Germany. In 2019, France occupied the seventh GDP rank in the world. The GDP of France grew by 1.2% in 2019 over 2018. The consistent economic growth of France can be attributed to its high performance in telecommunications, automobile production, chemicals, civil engineering, aerospace, and technology sectors.

The leading stance of France comes from its high research and development spending in technology. The R&D expenditure of France in the advancement of technology was high at 2.26% of the GDP. French developers and experts have a bull’s eye on the development of new technologies, and this takes to the conclusion that France is a conducive geography for the advancement of Artificial Intelligence.

A number of French personalities are taking charge at Google and Facebook, which has, in turn, stimulated the interest of France in artificial intelligence. The French government is leveraging the prowess of the technology in the automotive and healthcare industries. These sectors in France have been benefitting from the early adoption of the technology; however, all the other sectors are striving to extend the possibilities of the artificial intelligence in automation, speech recognition, computer vision, and machine learning.

In general, the AI tech startups are concentrated in Paris. However, lack of capital may act as a roadblock to the vision of the companies. Cosmo Tech, Shift Technology, Navya, Prophesee, AnotherBrain, Dataiku, etc. are some AI companies showing huge potential.

How is the Momentum of France to Stay Invested in the Future of AI?

According to government policy, France is striving to accommodate and strengthen its position in the top 5 countries list with AI capabilities. France is taking initiatives and investing in research in mathematics and technology. The French government is investing 665 Mn Euros by 2022. The French institute of research is committed to digital science to increase the number of doctors skilled in the field of artificial intelligence.

According to the national plan, France is looking forward to strengthening its partnerships with European and international cooperation. Besides the 2022 plan, the government is encouraging the AI startups and research centres to scale up through its contribution of 1.5 Bn Euros. To further pace the movement, the public investment bank of France—Bpifrance—manages 10 Bn Euros of funding for businesses keen to take AI further in the lives of the French populace.

As mentioned, Facebook and Google have AI research experts in France, and Samsung, Fujitsu, Microsoft, IBM, and DeepMind are inaugurating offices in Paris. Microsoft invested US$30 Mn for establishing the first AI school in Paris. The underlying aim behind this establishment is to train 400,000 students in the next three years. The top quality of education and AI startups have made it a favourable environment for the AI tech to boom in France.

The AI dream of France as perceived by President Macron can be considered as a bold one, as the country strives to compete with the U.S. and China.

France’s AI-forward Vision

The global industry players operating in France—Air Liquide, Total and Valeo, Dassault Aviation, Thales, EDF, Renault, and Safran—have signed a manifesto to establish a plan with the AI ecosystem, of the country. Besides these leading players, any startup or company sharing the same vision are encouraged to join the initiative to strengthen the momentum.

The president of France believes that GDPR was the first step towards embracing advanced technologies. As data security is at stake when it comes to the use of artificial intelligence, the implementation of GDPR will make it easier for individuals to incite trust in the technology.

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