France is the future, says boss of US tech giant

France and its Socialist government have been given a ringing endorsement from the boss of an American multinational, who believes the country is about to profoundly change. Air France executives might not agree, however.

France is the future, says boss of US tech giant
France's Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron with Cisco chief John Chambers. Photo: AFP

Just days ago critics and commentators the world over were lambasting France for being stuck in the past after images of Air France execs having their shirts ripped off by angry workers made headlines around the globe.

Even the French president François Hollande accepted it was bad for the country’s image as it desperately tries to present itself as a safe home for foreign investors and entrepreneurs.

But there was far better news on Thursday when John Chambers, boss of US multinational tech giant Cisco had only positive words to say about the country and in particular it’s thriving start up scene that will “change all lives”.

“I believe in this country. France is on the point of profoundly transforming itself,” Chambers told Europe 1 radio.

“We understand market trends. They followed us when we went to India and China and I think that France is the future and other entrepreneurs will follow,” he said.

“I have the impression of seeing Silicon Valley in France,” said Chambers, who was in Paris to open the Cisco Innovation Research Lab in Paris along with the country’s economy minister Emmanuel Macron

Chambers announced that Cisco was to double its planned €100 million investment in start-ups in France next year to €200million, that reflects around 10 percent of the company’s overall investment around the world.

Although it is unclear for now where and how that money will be invested.

Chambers is not just any company boss. He heads one of the biggest companies in Silicon Valley – which designs and sells networking technology. Cisco is worth around €50 billion dollars.

But he believes France is the leading country in the EU for start-ups right now.

“The French government understood what was happening a year ago. It hit us that the politicians in charge of France understood better that all the others the digital revolution that is underway,” said Chambers.

“Germany the United Kingdom, all these countries are following in France’s footsteps.”

“You have a government that understands the big changes that are taking place in the world, a government that’s very pragmatic,” said Chambers.

“There’s a generation of French start-ups that will profoundly transform our way of lives,” he added.

Chamber's bigging up of France made such an impression on Thursday that at one point his name was trending near the top of Twitter in France as was the name of his company.

That was in part due to the fact his ode to France was gobbled up by the French press, who are always eager to hear what US and British leaders have to say about the state of the country.



However for once there was no sign of the French bashing they have come to expect.


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Copenhagen to get artificial island and harbour tunnel in ambitious 50-year plan

A major new infrastructure and housing project, which will see a substantial increase to Copenhagen's land area, was announced on Friday.

Copenhagen to get artificial island and harbour tunnel in ambitious 50-year plan
Photo: Nikolai Linares/Ritzau Scanpix

Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, along with two ministers and Copenhagen's lord mayor Frank Jensen, announced the ambitious development plan at a press conference on Friday morning.

The spectacular centrepiece of the plan is the construction of an artificial island which would be built on the end of Refshaleøen, itself an extension at the northern point of Amager, an island district within the city.

“There will be an island able to accommodate 35,000 residents with the corresponding number of jobs,” Rasmussen said.

Up to 20,000 new homes are planned for construction in both Refshaleøen and the new district, which will be named Lynetteholmen.

The first new homes will be built by 2035, while Lynetteholmen itself will not be complete until 2070.

“This is a historic event, not just for Copenhagen but for all of Denmark,” business minister Rasmus Jarlov told broadcaster DR following the announcement.

Copenhagen lord mayor Jensen said the ambition was to build one in four of the new homes as affordable housing.

The island itself will be constructed using surplus material from other construction projects in the city, according to the plan.

Meanwhile, a new tunnel under the harbour and a ring road to the east of the city will be constructed as infrastructure is developed, while measures will also be taken to improve the environmental impact of the urban area.

A proposed new metro line connecting the new district with the rest of Copenhagen would be financed by the sale of land on the newly-reclaimed ground, Minister of Transport Ole Birk Olesen said.

“We are getting a free island and will be able to subsequently sell the land. It is this sale which will finance (the metro line),” Olesen said.

Funding will also be gleaned from the use of the various new transport links.

Rasmussen said that the overall cost of the project was estimated at 20 billion kroner (2.7 billion euros), but stressed that “this cannot be stated precisely”.

The project will not draw funding from taxes, according to the plan.

The government and Copenhagen Municipality have agreed in principle on the project, which must next receive the backing of a parliamentary majority and the support of the municipality’s citizens’ committee (Københavns Borgerrepræsentation), DR reports.

Neighbouring municipality Frederiksberg, a co-owner of the Metro, must also agree to the plan.

Should those approvals be secured, viability studies will be conducted into the construction of the Lynetteholmen island – a process which is expected to take two years. Similar preliminary studies into the ring road and Metro projects will also take place.

Construction of Lynetteholmen could begin in 2021 and continue well into the second half of this century, with estimated completion in 2070. 

READ ALSO: Denmark's 'sustainable island' to scrap plastic bags