"Vive la French tech!" That was the message last week during the Viva Technology conference in Paris, where some of the biggest names in the industry came together.
The message was clear from newly-elected President Emmanuel Macron: France will become Europe's leader in technology and transform into a "country of unicorns" – the term for companies valued at more than $1 billion.
"I want France to attract new entrepreneurs, new researchers, and be the nation for innovation and start-ups," Macron told CNBC on the sidelines of the event, prior to the announcement.
The speech he delivered was met with a standing ovation and there is cause for optimism in France. Venture capital investments in France hit $1.6 billion in 2016, just a touch lower than the $1.7 billion recorded in 2015, according to KPMG. In contrast, VC funding in Germany fell sharply to $1.9 billion in 2016, from $3.6 billion the year before, while the U.K. also saw a hefty drop.
France remains the third-largest player in terms of VC funding into start-ups, but it didn't see the falls recorded in Germany and Britain, which is encouraging. Europe's third-largest economy is also beginning to build billion dollar start-ups with the likes of BlaBlaCar and Criteo.
But the path to become a "start-up nation" could be a tough one given some of the structural issues in France. Entrepreneurs complain about the country's rigid labor laws which can make hiring and firing staff difficult, while a French wealth tax levied on those with personal assets of 1.3 million euros or more, has faced criticism.