France rides AI wave to secure 15B in foreign investment

France has secured €15bn in foreign investment from the likes of Microsoft and Amazon as part of this year's Choose France summit, an annual event that aims to promote the country's economic and business attractiveness.

The €15bn mark represents a record amount since the summit's first edition in 2018, with commitments coming from 56 different initiatives.

“This is the fruit of the reforms carried out since 2017,” such as changes in taxation and investments in innovation, President Emmanuel Macron posted on X.

One of the companies choosing to play its money in France is Microsoft. The tech giant plans to invest €4bn in AI infrastructure and employee training, Microsoft's Vice chair and President Brad Smith told Le Figaro. The company will also back French startups in the field and set up a data centre in the French city of Mulhouse.

Amazon is also planning to tap France's budding AI scene. It will invest over €1.2bn in its operations in the country, including the expansion of its logistics network and its cloud infrastructure in Paris to support further advancements in general artificial intelligence.

Another industry that has attracted interest is the decarbonisation sector. Swiss nickel refinery company KL1 and German sustainable aviation company Lilium will set up new sites in France, with a combined investment of €700mn.

In the pharma world, Pfizer has pledged €500mn to boost its R&D ecosystem in the country, while AstraZeneca has committed $388mn (€360mn) for its site in Dunkirk.

France also expects investments in the financial sector and is in talks with JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs, among others.

France leads in foreign investment

The Choose France summit (alongside the investments) comes two weeks after accounting and consulting firm Ernst & Young (EY) named the country Europe's most attractive hub for foreign investors.

According to EY's report, funding from abroad financed 1,194 projects in France in 2023, surpassing investment in Germany and the UK for the fifth year in a row.

But the country's widening budget deficit in 2023 and this year's sluggish economic growth have also been raising concerns.

The latest investments not only represent a significant boost to the French economy, but are also critical for Europe as a whole.

“New industries and the new economy need massive amounts of capital. We urgently need to take concrete steps to get the capital markets union going,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told reporters on Sunday.

“Europe needs money. If not, it will continue to lose out in terms of productivity to the United States and China,” he said.