Paris competes for Europe’s AI leadership as major conference approaches

European startups face challenges in raising capital locally due to complex securities laws.

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France is set to host tech executives and political figures this week, including former US Secretary of State John Kerry and ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt, at the ‘Viva Technology’ conference. The event, supported by Paris-based luxury giant LVMH, aims to spotlight French innovation in AI and address its implications on elections and climate change. LVMH’s Chairman Bernard Arnault is expected to be a key draw at the conference, which features cutting-edge technology from prestigious brands like Louis Vuitton and Dior.

Over the past 18 months, France has positioned itself as a leader in generative AI, the technology behind tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT. President Emmanuel Macron has successfully attracted investments from major American tech companies such as Amazon and Microsoft while also pushing for EU-wide capital market integration to support emerging AI startups. Paris, already a global luxury hub, is leveraging its status to attract more tech investments, with dynamic growth in the tech ecosystem and meaningful investment inflows.

Why does it matter?

In 2023, investors funnelled nearly $8 billion into French tech companies, positioning France behind the UK but ahead of Germany in tech investment. Paris has seen a rapid increase in tech startups, with nearly 3,000 new companies founded in 2023, surpassing other European cities’ growth rates. Notable Paris-based AI startups like Mistral AI and Holistic AI have emerged, founded by former researchers from industry leaders like Google DeepMind. The startup Adaptive ML, founded by ex-Hugging Face employee Julien Launay, quickly raised $20 million with significant backing from French and international investors.

Despite these advancements, European startups still need help raising large amounts of capital due to the EU’s fragmented capital markets. However, investment partners like Index Ventures see growing potential in Europe, emphasising the importance of funding and talent recruitment to build competitive AI companies. The ‘Viva Technology’ conference aims to further establish Paris as a significant player in the global AI landscape.