Paris: Facebook Inc. will open a start-up incubator at Paris’s soon-to-debut entrepreneur campus created by billionaire Xavier Niel, as Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg vows to keep investing in France.
The company will have engineers on the ground at incubator-campus Station F and offer workshops to entrepreneurs, Sandberg said at an event in Paris, alongside Niel, site director Roxanne Varza and Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo. Facebook will focus on supporting companies whose products revolve around data, in a bid to also learn from these start-ups and better cater to small business partners, she said.
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“Paris is a capital for food, culture, but it’s also a thriving tech scene," Sandberg said on the campus, in between stacks of construction material and still visible electric wiring as works continue on the site with the aim of opening by April. “We’re going to continue these types of investments here."
One of France’s richest people, Niel spent €250 million ($268 million) to transform a former freight station into an incubator area, with some 3,000 desks for rent and numerous hangout areas. Facebook, Vente-Privee Inc., business school HEC Paris and venture-capital firms Daphni and Ventech have all agreed to base some staff at the facility.
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Facebook said it will invest “millions of euros" as part of its move into the incubator. Part of those finances will go toward hosting 10-15 start-ups at the facility across about 80 desks. Start-ups would receive advice from marketing, technical development or design experts.
Niel, who has played a key role in helping shape France’s growing start-up ecosystem and is behind projects like a tuition-free coding school, is hoping Facebook’s presence will help attract the thousands of technology entrepreneurs, investors and inventors he wants to base themselves in Station F. Campus executives were in London last month to woo entrepreneurs there, with the UK an obvious seduction target amid Brexit uncertainty. Bloomberg