Global Experience in Policy and Program Development
Edited by Sarfraz A. Mian
Chapter 5: Science and Technology Based Entrepreneurship in France: Towards a Regionalized Neo-Colbertism
Alain Fayolle and Olivier Torrès BACKGROUND AND INTRODUCTION The combined phenomenon of new venture creation and SME development generates almost three times as many innovations per employee as do large companies do (Acs and Audretsch, 2003). They are also responsible for the majority of radical innovations in the economy (Baumol, 2002, 2006). Without underestimating the role of large companies, this observation underlines the necessity for nations to design their science based technology innovation and entrepreneurship support policies accordingly. Such programmes and policies are obviously contingent on the institutional and historical contexts and local traditions of the countries considered (Mustar and Larédo, 2002). In this chapter, we look at the specific case of France and the singular ecosystem shaped by the country’s geography, sociology, history, economy and institutional organization in which technological innovations are developed. This French ecosystem, with its very own personality and culture, relies on the combination of technology and finance under the supervision of the state (Albert, 2000). An isolated actor, be he/she a graduate of one of the most prestigious engineering schools in France, generally plays a marginal role in the creation and growth of technology based innovative start-ups (Fayolle, 2006). In France as elsewhere, these start-ups rely on at least two types of capital: social and human (Akrich et al., 1988; Bernasconi et al., 2006; Wright et al., 2007), but in France, more than anywhere else, nothing is possible without the state. This predominant role of the state in the French economy is not...
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