Thousands of French SMEs and start-ups are at the forefront of technological innovation, working daily to invent the products, services and solutions that are shaping the future. A fortnight ago, Creative France was also launched in the UAE, being a commercial hub in the region and a strong partner of France. Marc Cagnard — the French Trade Commissioner in Dubai — during the week spoke to William Faria from The Gulf Today, where he mentions how the “Créative France” campaign seeks to promote key strengths – excellence in business and industry, major innovation potential, vibrant arts and culture in the UAE.
Here is the full interview:
Q. Can you briefly mention what Business France is all about?
A. Thank you for the interview. To begin with Business France is the national agency supporting the international development of the French economy, responsible for fostering export growth by French businesses, as well as promoting and facilitating international investment in France.
It promotes France’s companies, business image and nationwide attractiveness as an investment location, and also runs the VIE international internship programme. Founded on January 1, 2015 through a merger between UBIFRANCE and the Invest in France Agency, Business France has 1,500 personnel, both in France and in 70 countries throughout the world, who work with a network of public – and private – sector partners.
Q. A fortnight ago Creative France was also launched in the UAE, can you expound on this?
A. Last year, we launched a campaign, the name of which is Creative France, and chose ten countries around the world, among them the UAE. The countries are the UK, US, Germany, Japan, China, Singapore, India, Brazil, the UAE and South Korea.
We are therefore insisting on creativity, because when we examine what is the particular virtue of France, in technology, in culture, in different domains, we think that the notion of creativity is quite accurate and hence, the campaign of Creative France.
The UAE has always been a priority and a privileged country for Créative France as it not only reflects the long-standing cultural and creative ties between our two nations, but also exciting prospects for the future.
The UAE/France partnership is in fields such as technology, industry, fashion, cuisine, science, and arts.
The UAE and France have shared a deeply-held mutual respect in the fields of culture, fashion and art for more than a century and in the past several decades this relationship has deepened and broadened across a range of industrial fields ranging from aerospace and robotics to high-tech materials.
Q. What has been the presence of GCC companies in France?
A. Well, an estimated one hundred plus companies from the Gulf States are successfully established in France where they have given employment to over three thousand people.
A lot of these jobs were created in 2014, when five investment measures from the Gulf States were decided.
About half of these investments are directed towards production and realisation businesses. Furthermore, nearly 50 per cent of the Gulf States’ investments are first-time investments which goes to show their dynamism and the country’s growing presence.
In 2014, the Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) from the Gulf States in France amounted to 3.7 billion euros, making them the fourteenth largest foreign investor in the country.
As a commercial hub, the UAE has provedto be an exceptional business partner for our companies over the years. French exports have tripled over a decade and are currently consolidating in spite of a particularly competitive environment.
The creative campaign communication artwork chosen for the UAE launch seeks to reflect the boundless future and potential for innovation and creativity between our countries, showcasing creative French talent in the areas of aerospace, green technology, robotics, computer programming and mathematics.
There are almost 11 visuals that have been chosen to be used in the UAE for the Créative France initiative, showcasing companies and individuals who are pioneers in their respective fields.
Q. Can you briefly outline what the Créative France campaign comprises?
A. This ambitious campaign comprises a number of different elements: a large-scale initiative targeting international media to convey our key messages. An advertising and digital initiative featuring a massive presence on social networks, to ensure that the greatest possible number of people are exposed to the campaign and help spread the word.
A campaign website featuring all the campaign content that includes interaction with local and international communities.
All French representatives abroad – in particular France’s Ambassadors – will be called on to reach out to international economic decision-makers. Plans will also be laid to take part in business conferences and major international events.
Q. What does creativity really mean to France?
A. As you already know, France has always been a hotbed of creativity and innovations. 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 a global 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.
Q. What is the ultimate aim for France’s creativity?
A. Good question! Our aim is to establish a lasting, positive dialogue with a wide audience about ‘France, Inc.’ and its ability to innovate. The country’s attractiveness to investors and generally build a positive image of France as a place for doing business.
Bringing ideas to life through a combination of talent, discipline and precision. Talent forms the basis of all creative work. But talent alone is not enough.
We are not a nation of 65 million dreamers and romantics. Every 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.
Q. What are the other means of promoting creativity?
A. There are several means of promoting creativity, the key being to provide creators with the best possible working conditions in order to establish an environment in which their talent will thrive.
The new French luminaries are the thousands of start-ups and SMEs that design, develop and market products, services and solutions to bring people together, conserve resources and make everyday life easier.
Known collectively as “La French Tech” community – part-founded by Business France – many of these companies are starting to make a name for themselves abroad by dazzling, charming and winning over clients and markets with their dynamism and inventiveness.
Q. To wrap up, can you in a nutshell mention France’s economic strength?
A: As we all know it is the 3rd largest economy in Europe and the 6th largest in the world with $2,847 billion in GDP, over 420,000 companies created in 2014, including 220,000 under the status of auto entrepreneurs.
France is at the heart of the EMEA, a world region accounting for nearly 32 per cent of global GDP.
It is also the largest exporter of services, with 4.9 per cent of global exports which is Europe’s leading destination for foreign investments.
Foreign companies account for 27 per cent of R&D investment in France, 12 per cent of French employees work for a foreign company.
Based in France foreign companies account for 31 per cent of French exports. France is ranked 7th in the world for foreign direct investment, with $729 billion at year-end 2014.