France has been actively supporting the development of the IoT industry through different initiatives, emerging from different organisations and covering different focus.
National Industrial Strategy
The French Ministry of Economy launched in 2013 a plan toward a “New Industrial France” (Nouvelle France Industrielle). The main objective of this plan was to improve French Industry competitiveness (Industry share as part of the GDP dropped significantly over the 2000-2010 decade, from 23 to 19%, it remained around this value since). A side objective was to create jobs, France having lost over 2 million industrial jobs in the last 30 years.
Although this plan didn’t target specifically the internet of things, it covered several topics related to the IoT (among the 34 topic of the plan), such as: Autonomous Vehicles, Smart Textiles, Connected Objects, Future Factories; and related topics (BigData, Cloud computing). The plan main action focused on legal and fiscal means (incentives) and direct public funding (through the “plan investissement d’avenir”) with a total of 3.7 billion EUR of public investment.
The plan evolved in 2015 with a tighter focus on 9 strategic domains, seeing a stronger focus on IoT: among the 9 selected domains figure Smart Objects, Digital Trust and Data Economy. this French government initiative has defined five priorities:
- Technology development, with both project funding and the development of a technological test bed platform to develop and validate technologies.
- Support to adoption, with dedicated actions to encourage SMEs to adopt new technologies and practices.
- Employee training, with the development of dedicated courses on key technologies.
- International cooperation, especially at European level.
- Visibility, with the launch of showcase initiatives to improve the visibility of French industrials.
The focus of the French Government on the IoT increased further with a more recent (December 2016) “Roadmap” fully dedicated to the IoT. The roadmap is an extension of the Nouvelle France Industriel plan, with ties to the three domains of Smart Objects, Digital Trust and Data Economy. It defines 4 axes and 11 objectives to promote the development of the IoT in France. The goal of the roadmap initiative is mainly to present and coordinate various existing initiatives from the different organizations.
The French telecom regulator the ARCEP published in 2016 a white paper on the Internet of Things following a public consultation on the topic. The objectives of the white paper were to identify the key challenges and to prepare the set-up of targeted tools to support the development of the IoT in France.
The five identified challenges are:
- Ensuring connectivity through multiple resilient technologies and a low cost.
- Providing the needed spectrum frequencies to the development of the IoT.
- Ensuring an open market
- Contributing to public trust into industrial and their handling of personal data
- Support the emergence of a dedicated IoT ecosystem.
Three tools are considered to support the IoT development:
- A dedicated initiative to support experimentations by industrials and start-ups
- A portal gathering the current usage of unlicensed spectrum frequencies by the different stakeholders
- The set-up of dedicated events to follow the development and needs of the industry.
Local Industry Strategy
The French support to the IoT also goes through more local initiative targeting local ecosystems of industrials, academics and start-up. This goes through the set-up of clusters (“pole de competitivité”) set-up in 2010.
The clusters follow the “triple helix approach” principle  mixing together academic research, leading private companies, startups and local ecosystems. The objective of this approach is to facilitate technology transfer between academics and businesses while taking into account the user needs by grounding research and developments in local ecosystems.
The following clusters can be mentioned as having dedicated actions on the IoT topic:
- System@tic: located in the Paris area and focusing on telecom, future factories, and trust and security applications. The cluster also has dedicated applications in automotive, transport and energy verticals.
- SCS (Secured Communicating Solutions): located in Sophia-Antipolis and focusing on Microelectronics, Telecommunication and Software.
- Minalogic: located in Grenoble and focusing on Micro and Nanoelectronics, Photonics and Software.
- Images et Réseaux (Images and Networks): located in Rennes and focusing on Network Infrastructures.
- Cap Digital: located in Paris and focusing among other topics on Robotics and IoT, with a stronger focus on consumer applications.
Focused actions targeting start-ups
Finally, French also has an initiative dedicated to supporting Start-up companies called “La French Tech”. The initiative provides support (including financial support) and has a strong focus on visibility (with promotion in international events).
The initiative is structured through local bindings (active in most of large French cities and regions) and through a thematic binding. One of the Thematic Networks is focusing on the Internet of Things and Manufacturing.
The thematic network provides networking opportunities between the different start-ups focusing on IoT and aims at creating a common roadmap of actions to strengthen the growth of the industry.