Editor’s note: Alexandra Lederer is co-founder and community lead of La French Tech Research Triangle, which is currently in the application stages. During her 20-plus years working in travel tech, health teach and hospitality, she has helped businesses scale up and sustain rapid growth through cultural transformations in France, Australia and the United States.
RALEIGH — La French Tech may soon be coming to the Triangle.
Founded in 2013 out of Paris, La French Tech is a global initiative that supports and promotes French communities of startups and entrepreneurs around the world. We recently submitted our application and hope to officially be accredited “La French Tech Research Triangle” this April.
So far, the journey has been as enriching as the destination. The light-bulb moment happened at the French-American Business Awards Gala last October.
In her welcome address, Marie-Claire Ribeill, executive director of the French American Chamber of Commerce of the Carolina, asked French attendees if they worked in fashion, wine, hospitality or “métiers de bouche.” A few hands raised.
She went on to ask who worked in tech, deep tech, biotech, agtech, artificial intelligence. A wave of hands raised from the crowd.
From there, we decided to federate our local tech talents. From an inspired meeting at La Farm Bakery (French croissants always help), we carefully picked and invited a handful of French tech entrepreneurs from RTP. On our first meeting last November, that core team raised up to the challenge, enthusiastic and passionate. It was the beginning of our “French Tech” adventure.
On December 17, we launched our first get-together to gauge interest; and on February 12, we held our first meetup, “Innovation in Tech,” welcoming nearly 50 people.
In exactly three months, we doubled the requirements needed to gather a board composed exclusively of entrepreneurs who have founded or are leading a startup in tech.
We also quadrupled the number of supports needed from the local tech ecosystem. We are wowed by the number of people who jumped on board and are backing our initiative. From large tech companies to startups, via economic development players, accelerators, incubators, co-workspaces, tech education players and other French Tech communities, they are all #frenchtechresearchtechtriangle!
Our team and future president Guillaume Kozinski recently had the chance to showcase the Research Triangle and our project to His Excellency Philippe Etienne, French Ambassador to the United States and Vincent Hommeril, Consul de France in Atlanta, at a welcome reception in HQ Raleigh in February.
Why a French Tech in the Research Triangle?
- France is getting on the radar of US entrepreneurs. We want to reinforce connections between US startups and economic development players towards French tech and biotech hubs.
- France is more than fashion, cheese and wine (although that’s important). We aim to showcase the French Tech talents and savoir-faire and leverage the positive bias towards French culture and art-de-vivre.
- We want to open opportunities to exchange tech practices and connect the rich Research Triangle entrepreneurship ecosystem to the rest of the French tech communities.
There is a lot in it for French entrepreneurs, too:
- RTP is already a solid alternative to large American tech hubs for US startups to Fortune 500 companies. We would like to make this hidden gem accessible to French entrepreneurs.
- They are many established French businesses in the Triangle – from BioMerieux to Schneider Electric and Cellectis, to name a few. We are passionate about boosting the presence of French tech startups. “We’re not here to make money. If we can enable one or two startups to land in North Carolina this year, for us that will be our Graal.”
- The region also offers a complex and vibrant tech ecosystem. We’ve all been on this journey before — the one of discovering and making sense of the tons of information to make the best decision possible.
“We are going to share our personal experience and orientate entrepreneurs to the right economic development player, put them in the right network as fast as possible to help unlock their decision,” said Kozinski. “It’s a way for us to give back a little bit of what we have received.
He added their role is not to replace or to add to the complexity of that ecosystem, but to work “in close collaboration with the existing French and American players of economic development.”
That includes the Embassy of France in the United States, Business France, the French-American Chamber of Commerce of the Carolinas, EDPNC, RTRP, the Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster, North Carolina Biotech Center, Durham Chamber of Commerce, Wake County Economic Development, the City of Raleigh, and many more.
So far, the journey has been as enriching as the destination and we thank each and everyone involved in the making off. With special thanks to Marie-Claire Ribeill, Ryan Combs and his team, the first and most fervent Ambassadors for La French Tech.
Kozinski concluded: “What we love about the American culture is the concept of open network and that is what we have decided to promote. Our network is your network”and we believe in creative collisions.”
#Frenchtechresearchtriangle – We are ready. Stay tuned.