Following the “Assises de l’entrepreneuriat” – an entrepreneurship round table initiated by Ms. Fleur Pellerin, France’s Minister Delegate for SMEs, Innovation and the Digital Economy – a wide range of enterprise-friendly reforms are to be introduced, most of which will take effect in 2014. The principal aim of these measures is to help SMEs grow and to support founders of innovative startups.
“Innovative new companies” and funding for companies in disadvantaged areas
Six hundred “innovative new companies” (jeunes entreprises innovantes– JEIs) will now enjoy full exemption for eight years from social security contributions, and a new, broader definition of eligible expenses.Furthermore, France’s Public Investment Bank (Banque Publique d’Investissement – BPI) will provide dedicated funding to help create companies in disadvantaged areas. Meanwhile, the introduction of a “student entrepreneur” scheme will enable anyone setting up a company after completing their studies to continue to benefit from their student status.
Special visas for foreign startup investors
Any founder of a startup developing an innovative project will be entitled to apply for an “entrepreneur visa”, specifically designed to speed up the process of obtaining a residence permit. These visas will be granted on condition of a minimal level of investment and proven expertise to ensure that the project is viable.
Along with the introduction of this new visa, a “digital entrepreneur pass” will also be created with a single point of contact in every region of France to help entrepreneurs set up business.
The French government is also keen to promote corporate venture capital initiatives – such as those already practiced by Orange, Veolia and Alstom – by granting tax relief over five years for equity investments in startups.
At the same time, a number of business incubators (“Maisons de l’International”) will be created in major cities throughout the world to encourage French SMEs to export their goods and services.
Entrepreneurs no longer blacklisted for single business failures
To “combat the stigmatization of failure”, the Banque de France will no longer blacklist the names of company directors free of misconduct associated with the liquidation of no more than one company in the last three years. This will offer a second chance to some 150,000 entrepreneurs, who will henceforth no longer be denied access to credit.