French Startups Are Also Taking Over CES

It’s true, startups are taking over CES. But this is just part of the story. CES isn’t yet another startup show. It’s a now a startup show with hundreds of companies launching compelling new products at the same time coming from many different countries — and French startups in particular are coming en masse.

This year, 190 French startups are going to have a booth at CES.

And you already know some of them. We’ve covered Withings, Parrot, Devialet, Netatmo and many successful French companies in the past. Some of them are going to be next to Samsung, Sony, LG and all the big players in the Las Vegas Convention Center.

But what about the dozens of others you don’t know yet? They’re basically going to take over the Sands Expo Center a few blocks away from the Convention Center. This year, a third of the startups at Eureka Park are French startups. To put this into perspective, American startups represent 42 percent of Eureka Park. All the blue stands on this map of Eureka Park are French startups:

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Now if you’ve been following the French tech scene, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Last year was already a big year for French startups at CES. But this year, it seems like French startups are trying to make a point.

So why are French startups coming all the way to Las Vegas for CES? There are a few reasons explaining France’s newfound love for CES. For the past couple of years, the French government has been trying to promote French startups around the world with La French Tech, a government-backed team who is trying to improve the image of French startups. La French Tech has picked a dozen startups and paid for their CES trips.

But that doesn’t explain why 175+ other startups are also going to CES. France is arguably the most promising country when it comes to hardware startups. And that’s why many startups are traveling to Las Vegas.

France is lucky enough to have some of the best engineering schools in the world. Students don’t just study computer sciences in these schools. They study electronics, mechanics and other low-level courses. It’s a better training if you plan on working for hardware companies.

That’s why some companies like Parrot and Withings have thrived over the past few years. But I’ve been hearing about Parrot and Withings engineers leaving their companies to work for tiny hardware startups as well. The hardware engineering mafia is making it much easier to create a hardware startup in France.

And finally, over the past few years, many French startups have realized that it’s possible to build a global company by keeping the engineering team in France and opening small offices in the U.S. And this model works really well for hardware startups.

We’ve covered some of these promising French startups on TechCrunch — Prynt, Phonotonic, Prizm, ISKN, Giroptic, Lima and countless others. But there are also dozens of new startups we’ve never heard about coming to CES.

And we’ve seen this trend of new hardware startups coming out of France. A few of the startups in our Hardware Battlefield competition are based in France or have French founders. TechCrunch is also going to interview French entrepreneurs all week long. And I’m also interviewing France’s Minister of Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs Emmanuel Macron later this week.

So the rumors are true, CES is becoming a startup show, and that’s why TechCrunch is here. But CES is also becoming an international launchpad for French startups. And we’ll be following this trend closely.

CES 2016