|Edict of Nantes 1598: "Edit de Nantes- Grands Documents de l'Histoire de France, Archives Nationales," Wikimedia Commons|
Dreams of cloning a European version of Silicon Valley, the centre of the US
modern tech industry located in the area south of San Francisco, are not new and
last December Fleur Pellerin, then France's deputy minister for digital
innovation, announced "La French Tech." Inspired by the tech startup environment
in London's Tech City/ Silicon Roundabout, La French Tech initiative was backed
by a public investment of over €200m but weeks later Newsweek, the US news
magazine, invoked the 1685 Revocation of the Edict of Nantes to etch a dystopian
vision for the prospects of modern technology in France.
noted: "It's a stretch, but what is happening today in France is
being compared to the revocation of 1685. In that year, Louis XIV, the Sun King
who built the Palace of Versailles, revoked the Edict of Nantes, which had
protected French Protestants - - the Huguenots."
The edict signed by Henri IV of France at Nantes in 1598 had been a
momentous declaration of religious tolerance and later following years of persecution
under Louis XIV, estimates of the numbers that choose exile after 1685 in
Switzerland, England, the Dutch Republic, Prussia, Ireland (a Huguenot cemetery dating from 1693
is located near the Shelbourne Hotel in central Dublin) and other countries
range from 200,000 to up to 1m.
The exile of the Huguenots was likely the
greatest migration in a short time of significant intellectual capital in Europe until the
early 1990s when about 1m mainly educated Jews emigrated to Israel after the
collapse of the Soviet Union - -
enabling Israel to have the intellectual power to successfully clone Silicon
In largely agricultural France, the Huguenots
came from towns where they were skilled craftsmen and professionals involved in
a wide range of skills.
Despite Newsweek's calamity howling, the European
Commission this year
ranked Munich, London and Paris at the top of 34 tech hubs. Dublin got
a 16th rank.
The Commission says the top 3 cities merit the
tag 'excellence' and the ranking table is available
on Page 8. See also
Last month Dow Jones VentureSource
reported [pdf] that European startups had a strong funding performance in 2014,
raising €2.1bn (more than $2.8bn) from venture-capital investors in
the second quarter of 2014, the highest quarterly total
The UK remained the favoured destination for
equity financing in 2Q 2014 with a 28% share of investment into European
VC-backed companies. The country received €598m across 97 deals, an increase of
7% in deal flow and 58% in amount invested from 1Q 2014.
second with a 19% share of investment. Dow
Jones said that while deal flow saw an increase of 42% from 1Q 2014 with 74
completed, investment more than doubled from the €184m drawn in during
the previous quarter to reach €395m. Germany occupies third spot, raising
€322m, representing a 15% share of investment. The Netherlands rose to
fourth spot with an 8% share, raising €166m during 2Q 2014. It was the
country’s highest quarterly investment total since 3Q 2000.
In the US private companies raised $13.8bn
in venture capital in the second quarter.
here on the faded dream of creating a European Silicon Valley in Ireland.
Newsweek in its January 2014 piece repeated the
laughable canard that the French have not a word for entrepreneur - - see
here on its spread from France.
Google recently announced the
launch of the European arm of its venture capital fund, Google Ventures. But can
Europe's burgeoning start-up scene compete, or even mirror, the success of
Silicon Valley? The FT's Ravi Mattu finds out.