Paris, leading capital for innovation?

Elected ‘iCapital’, the European Capital of Innovation, in 2017, Paris is Europe's leading economic hub due to a concentration of talent, capital and know-how. It is also the most attractive European capital for start-ups and investors. Its sectors of excellence in the field of healthcare, industry, finance and digital technology give it international prestige and the reputation of a major business hub.

Paris, a business city

La Défense, Puteaux © OTCP - Jocelyne Genri

Each year, the capital spends almost 20 billion euros on research and development, making it the number one in Europe and creating an environment conducive to a concentration of researchers, students and business projects.

Paris is also the leading city in Europe and third in the world in terms of the headquarters of companies listed in the Fortune Global 500, with 29 companies, 15 of which are in the district of La Défense. This business district, a financial hub, has a total of 500 companies and 160,000 employees across 3.5 million square metres of offices (50 million in total in the region); this together with the rest of Hauts-de-Seine accounts for 65% of research and development spending.

The Paris region has 6 other competitiveness clusters across the sectors of health, innovation, aeronautics, Sustainable City, design, and international exchange and events. These clusters seek to become reference sites in order to attract and accommodate cutting-edge industries, research laboratories and higher education institutions.


Paris, a city of start-ups 

réunion de plusieurs personnes écoutant des intervenants

The first to benefit from this attractive environment for businesses are start-ups. The City of Light is known for its strong entrepreneurial capacity. Incubators, fablabs and co-working spaces are multiplying to create a dynamic ecosystem and facilitate the development of innovative projects. The capital now has 40 incubators for a total of 100,000 square metres dedicated to hosting start-ups. Among them, Station F, Europe's largest, now welcomes 1,000 companies over a surface area of 34,000 square metres. It houses, notably, the French Tech Central space, the first French inter-administration coworking space designed to bring start-ups and public actors closer together and facilitate dialogue and exchange.

Another recent creation is the French Event Booster, an incubator that acts as an innovation platform for players in the events industry. It was created in 2018 at the initiative of Viparis and in partnership with LEVENEMENT, Weyou and Novelty, in order to boost events innovation and design events for the future at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles.

Another incubator and accelerator in the tourism sector is the Welcome City Lab; mainly dedicated to Parisian tourism, it is the first in the world to focus on tourism. Supported by Paris&Co, Paris's agency for economic development and innovation, it has, since its creation in 2013 incubated more than 100 start-ups that have successfully launched themselves on the global tourism market. In addition to hosting them, it provides them with an environment conducive to dialogue and exchange with key players in the sector and supports them on a daily basis on various subjects such as finding financing, raising capital and international development. In 2019, Paris&Co also launched its ‘Disability Mission’ action programme, one of the main lines of which is the creation of an accelerator for innovative projects to compensate for disability and promote the autonomy of the people concerned. The first call for applications for the first promotion was launched on 15 July and will close on 15 September 2019.


City of Paris projects

Projet Réinventer Paris Garde d'Auteuil

The City of Paris is active in putting forward innovative projects to build the capital of the future through collaborative methods, co-creation, evolving infrastructures, etc. It seeks to be an open city by drawing on the collective intelligence of its stakeholders and by sharing information via digital technology; it also seeks to be an ingenious city adopting new practices in terms of consumption, mobility and urban planning.

The notion of an open city puts human beings at the centre of things. Users, council officers and economic actors in Paris participate in the development of the city and have access to a wide range of data enabling them to stay informed and engage in dialogue. The capital has thus taken initiatives such as the Paris Open Innovation Meetup, a series of meetings on Open Data, the intelligent and sustainable city, the circular economy, new citizen participation and the greening of the urban environment. It has also set up Paris Data, which gives access to many documents likely to interest researchers, associations, journalists and companies.

The connected city is based on modernization and offers new services and digital platforms such as the possibility of reserving one’s domain name in .paris, monitoring the deployment of fibre optic in homes and being aware of events linked to new technology in public spaces.

Finally, the ingenious city seeks to meet economic, environmental and social imperatives, as well as to optimize and limit resources by questioning the functioning of urban networks, developments and flows. ‘Reinventing Paris’, one of the projects of this ingenious city, won the iCapitale prize in 2017! This call for projects throws out challenges to designers all over the world to reinvent different Parisian sites so that they become examples of the metropolis of the future in terms of use, sustainable environment or architecture. At its 2nd edition in early 2019, the 20 winners presented projects such as the Fabrique des Arts 3.0, mixing artists' residencies with places for digital manufacturing, and BlocPark Station, the first outdoor climbing site in Paris. With the help of Paris&Co, Paris also launches other calls for projects aimed at improving transport systems, promoting better use of resources, encouraging social innovation and reducing the capital's environmental footprint.