Somehow, I can never find a direct flight from Paris to Las Vegas. This year, even though I had to make a stop in London, my transatlantic flight was filled with French entrepreneurs going to CES, ready to show their latest and greatest products to an international audience. I already wrote that French startups were taking over CES last year, but it’s worth using this opportunity to check what’s happening with French hardware startups.
France is slowly but surely becoming a major force when it comes to hardware companies. You already know about some of them, such as Netatmo, Devialet, Parrot and Withings. But there are hundreds of other companies following in their footsteps.
This year, around 238 French hardware companies are coming to CES. A third of the companies at Eureka Park are French startups — Eureka Park is the hall dedicated to hardware startups. So you know that there’s a generation of French entrepreneurs ready to build the next Samsungs and Sonys of the consumer electronics world. My coworkers keep asking me to translate some information from French to English because there are so many interesting French products this year.
Some of it is because La French Tech is working really hard to bring more French startups every year — La French Tech is a government-backed team who is trying to improve the image of French startups in general.
But that doesn’t explain everything as many companies come on their own. They feel like they could become global companies. There has been a clear mindset change over the past three years.
France also has some of the best engineering schools in the world. And most engineers don’t specialize in computer science. They learn about everything from physics to hardware engineering and computer science. That’s why they’re well-prepared to build devices.
I’ve tried to follow this trend closely over the past few years. We’ve interviewed many French CEOs and covered countless of French startups. Some young French startups also participated in our Hardware Battlefield competition. Last year, I interviewed France’s former Minister of Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs Emmanuel Macron — he is now running for the 2017 presidential election.
This week, we’ve put together a panel focused on the French hardware resurgence. France’s Minister of State for Digital Affairs Axelle Lemaire is going to join me with Netatmo founder and CEO Fred Potter, and Devialet co-founder and CEO Quentin Sannié. This is happening tomorrow on our stage and website at 10 AM (7 PM in France).
I’ll also be interviewing France’s former Prime Minister François Fillon to get some of his views on startups and innovation. He’s also candidate for the 2017 presidential election for the main conservative party. He’ll be on stage at 1 PM (10 PM in France).
2017 is going to be a political year as the presidential election is approaching quickly. So it’s interesting to see candidates coming all the way to Las Vegas to show that they care about startups. And yet, politicians come and go. But there’s one thing for sure. French hardware startups are here to stay.