Digital: OpenAI has its sights set on France as the location for its European HQ

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Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI — the company behind the wildly popular ChatGPT application — is considering setting up its European HQ in France. So why is the entrepreneur interested in our country, and why could Atlantic France specifically be the perfect location?

In an interview with French magazine Politico, Sam Altman mentioned that he had gone on a tour of Spain, France, Poland, Germany and the United Kingdom to meet with political leaders about AI regulations and the possibility of establishing offices in Europe.

But after meeting with several French political leaders at the highest level, the CEO of OpenAI disclosed the main reason for leaning towards France: its talent. “If you had to pick just based on the most AI research talent, you’d pick France,” he told Politico.

France: a hotspot for AI talent

France stands out for its excellent educational institutions, high-skilled labour force, and exceptional training and reskilling climate. In the latest edition of the Global Talent Competitiveness Index, which took into account six key criteria — including fiscal and regulatory framework, quality of education, social protection, employability, and workforce training — France ranked 19th out of 133 countries surveyed. Focusing especially on the last point, workforce training, France ranks 4th in the world for its capacity to reskill workers and provide opportunities for lifelong learning.

The country also ranks second in Europe for the number of patents filed in 2021,  which is proof of the country’s innovative spirit. As the fourth most dynamic economy in the OECD area, France is a true hub for human capital; home to multiple top 10 business schools and MBA programmes, and with nearly 50% of 25-34-year-olds holding a tertiary degree, there is no shortage of high-skilled talent available in France.

High-skilled workers from abroad are also increasingly drawn to France’s magnificent work-life balance and public healthcare system. And just to put the cherry on the cake, the French government has also set up a number of attractive visa schemes in recent years to attract foreign talent in an effort to compensate for the digital skills shortage faced by many European countries.

The Atlantic France region is budding with innovation

The number of AI-focused startups based in the Atlantic France region has been exploding in recent years. Some of these companies have reached international recognition, such as MyScript, which offers handwriting recognition and was labelled the world’s best app at CES 2017 in Las Vegas. Some other prominent AI companies based in the region include Case Law Analytics, Enerfox, and Voxymore.

The Atlantic France region isn’t just home to some highly innovative startups — it also boasts world-class educational institutions and research centres specialised in AI which are very well established, such as LS2N and Polytech Nantes (specialised Data Engineering and AI). For data science and Development, look no further than Le Wagon Nantes, or instead look at Cnam Nantes, which offers a popular modeling, simulation, and optimisation degree. The list goes on and on.

Last but not least, the region is home to numerous competitiveness clusters aimed at accelerating the most innovative AI projects. To name just a few:

  • Proxinnov: a platform dedicated to robotics by supporting companies in the development of their robotization projects.
  • Clarté: a technological resource centre specialised in Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and emerging technologies.  
  • DIVA: a European Digital Innovation Hub for the Atlantic France region, selected by the French government to respond to the European Commission’s EDIH (European Digital Innovation Hub) call for projects (2020-2021). DIVA’s objective is to organise a “tailor-made” support path, from raising awareness of AI to the commercial deployment of solutions using AI technologies and services.
  • Naonedia: a hub for companies, academics, and local authorities to explore synergies around AI.

What are you waiting for?

Are you a startup or scaleup developing an AI product or solution? Then Atlantic France might just be the right place for you to set up shop.

After all, it’s not without reason that OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has his sights set on the country. With a highly skilled workforce, Europe’s first and only “startup nation” president, and a highly attractive work-life balance, France is a hotspot for AI innovation in Europe.

Interested in finding out more about funding opportunities, partnerships, and talent recruitment in the Atlantic France region? Contact one of our advisors for free and find out what’s in store for you!

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