Je me suis rendu la
semaine dernière à Séoul en Corée pour représenter la France à la conférence internationale sur la 4ème Revolution Industrielle et expliquer à un public coréen et international la stratégie
d’innovation industrielle et d’investissement dans les talents de la France.
Ce type de conférence permet de comparer les politiques publiques d’innovation, de faire un point d’étape devant un public averti, de s’inspirer des meilleures pratiques internationales ( Espagne, Suède, Corée..) et de continuer à croire en une évolution positive de ces technologies.
Cette 4ème Revolution Industrielle marche sur deux jambes : l’une technique et l’autre sociale. Il ne s’agit pas simplement d’une évolution technique mais bel et bien d’une transformation de la société qui doit aussi prendre en compte les contraintes et opportunités environnementales et sociétales.
Pour ceux qui souhaite en savoir plus, vous retrouverez ci-dessous, mon discours, en anglais, et en intégralité:
Mister Minister of Economy and ICT
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are at the edge of a fundamental transformation of humanity and it is our duty to carefully prepare the different populations to it.
It is not just about a technological improvement of what is existing but a quantum leap evolution both of our personal and professional lives.
Some will argue that it is for the worse, a lot will recognize that it is for the better.
All will agree that it is a tidal wave that cannot be stopped and that we have to learn to surf it.
Here comes the time of the 4th Industrial Revolution, which I personally like to call in order to distinguish it from its predecessors, the ROBOLUTION
But let’s take some steps back and revisit history:
First came the tool which increased the men’s dexterity.
Then the machines empowered them to think bigger and further by empowering their strengths.
The robots and AI are nowadays augmenting the cognitive capacity of mankind, allowing new frontiers to be reached.
Those technical evolutions generated through time a tremendous number of inventions and innovations, solving countless issues and elevating the quality of life for billions of people.
But this legitimate aspiration of growth and comfort put at risk our planet and therefore adds a new dimension to the new Industrial Revolution to come: the acknowledgement that the social and environmental issues need to be part of the equation.
The 4th Industrial Revolution has two legs : one is technical and the other social.
Technological solutions have nowadays to come with a thorough analysis of their social impacts.
Maximization which was in the DNA of the former industrial revolution is mutating into optimization which is integrating social and environmental constraints into the mix of production, business and consumption.
The companies of the future will have to convert to this new Darwinian evolution.
The institutions have to prepare the legal frames and the proper regulatory environment to ease this transition both from a producer and a consumer point of view.
France political landscape recent surprising switch can be explained by the realization that the world demands and pillars were changing and therefore that it was time for a new proposal.
More than a reject of the existing, it was a hope for a change that drove the polls.
A big challenge for the new team and I would like to present what is the strategy for innovation in my country and where we are in its execution.
Basic principles :
- France has always been historically a country of progress, a country believing in science and technology and welcoming inventors and industrials.
In those time of this new industrial revolution, The French government of the country has decided to integrate all those new parameters in order to elaborate a strategy including a new set of laws and regulations to catch this very significant wave of growth.
- France is proud of and careful with its social model. Deeply rooted in French culture, it is mixing the protection of the individuals and the encouragement to undertake. The country motto, “ liberté, égalité, fraternité” ( freedom, equality, fraternity) summarizes its vision of freedom, balance and social care even from an entrepreneurial and industrial angle.
Taking in consideration both the coming 4th industrial revolution, its constraints and opportunities, and the long industrial and social history of the country, France has engaged a impressive reform plan to become a leading destination for investment and research.
Building up the innovation plan
This plan starts with building a cradle for innovation with a legal framework. The responsibility of the institution is to stimulate entrepreneurship and help them to grow without being involved in their strategy nor in their activities.
It is set around 4 axis : transforming our social model, improving France’s business environment, building an attractive tax strategy, and increasing the state efficiency.
On the top of this plan some specific fields of interest might be patched with some financial support but the core philosophy remains to leave private innovation grow without imposing specific guidelines.
This reform plan has been set at the beginning of President Emmanuel Macron mandate in July 2017 and is currently in process for completion by 2022.
Strategy and implementation of the plan
The transformation of the social model started in 2017 with a new law changing the labor code.
This law is enhancing the relationship and social dialogue between employers and employees with a single Social and Economic Council.
It offers a more flexible and legally secured framework for recruitment and redundancies with a mandatory scale of damages to limit the impact of potential disputes and a facilitation of voluntary departure plan.
It is simplifying the framework for restructuring as well.
In 2018, another step had been the reform of apprenticeship and vocation. Its purpose was to boost the number of students in the industrial fields. A lot of them, prior to the major support of the government, the skills investment program of €15 billion, were neglecting the industry as a potential future job category.
The goal is to get 2 million people trained in 5 years.
The reform ease the companies procedures to hire apprentices.
Additionally, France has set the “ Bienvenue en France” ( Welcome to France program) welcoming 500 000 international students by 2027 and improved its offer of international school.
It will be followed by two reform in 2020 : one on unemployment insurance, and the other on the pension system.
In order to improve France’s business environment, an agenda for attractiveness of Paris as a financial center has been set in 2017 followed by two founding texts at the Parlement : the “business growth act”, Pact Act, and “For a state serving a society of trust”, Essoc Act.
Both of them are aiming at easing the entrepreneurship and industrial investment in the country. The former by simplifying the administrative processes and the later by including the right to make a mistake when undertaking for instance.
To keep up the speed, three plans have been initiated : a €57 billion investment plan, an energy and national low-carbon strategy plan and a multi-annual research plan.
The tax strategy is aiming at lowering the corporate tax rate, IS, to reach 25% by 2022 against 33,3% in 2017 as well as lowering the employer social security contributions.
The Pact Act includes a new tax authorities attitude, more business-friendly with an introduction of a new “ right to amend error” and a one-stop-shop for filing and processing requests.
In addition, tax cuts on assets have been voted with the replacement of the solidarity wealth tax, ISF, by a tax on real estate assets, IFI.
On the employees side, overtime hours are exempt from tax and social security contribution and a year-end bonus free of taxes can be paid at employer’s discretion.
On the consumers front, a decreased income tax for 15 million tax households for a total amount of €5 billion will be effective January 1, 2020 and an exemptions of housing tax will both increase their situations.
Last but not least, a single tax rate on capital gains has been established at a 30% flat tax from 2018.
An ambitious program to overhaul the role of the public sector, Public Action 2022, is modernizing public services for an improved quality, an expenditure reduction and a development of digital technologies for carrying out public policies.
There is of course a understanding that Innovation needs investments to fund the transformation, the major investment plan of €57 billion needs to be detailed : €20 billion will be dedicated to the acceleration of the ecological transition, €9 billion to the creation of a digital State, € 15 billion to the raising of a skilled society, and €13 billion to consolidate innovation and competitiveness including a specific portion dedicated to disruptive innovation ( DeepTech).
Another booster for innovation is the development of a tech community. French Tech is a very effective one, raising more than €3,6 billion in 2018
All those efforts are showing the strong will of France to attract innovation not just as an opportunity but with the solid vision that it can only grow for the benefit of all and in full respect of future generations.
The base of this vision is that, unlike invention, which is the “ offering” of an idea to a market, innovation is an answer to a strong social “demand”.
Therefore, a country must listen to the weak signals of its population and of the world.
Innovation cannot be simplified to a market demand any longer but need to be enriched by some non quantitative elements like, for instance, quality of life, environmental demands or health issues.
Innovation cannot then be seeded without the preparation of a favorable soil.
The French reform plan has been elaborated to prepare the most favorable ground for an innovative society.
A mix of critical social and tax reforms and investment in people, means and research is the secret potion for success.
The management of Human Resources is another critical ingredient. France wants, at the same time, take advantage of its existing capacities like a sophisticated infrastructure network, an educated working force, a qualified scientists community, and prepare the coming technological and environmental revolutions to come by heavily investing on education and research.
The 4th Industrial Revolution is not just another technical step to climb but effectively a major move towards a transformed society.
More than before, the freedom to undertake has to come with an awareness of the impacts of the industrial innovation on our environment and even the planet.
The guaranty of a solid vision and strong will of a country is an important element of decision for an investment.
France is clearly showing deep signs of its commitment to innovation, respect of investors and understanding of a big international picture.
The first results of those reforms are paying of with a sustained growth.
According to OECD, reforms could boost GDP per capital by 3,2 % in only 10 years.
500 000 jobs have been created since 2017
A public deficit below 2,5% in 2018 and a public spending controlled
In 2019, the hourly labor cost for minimum wage earners was lower in France than Germany ( €10,4 vs €11)
A record in attractiveness for France has been hit in 2018: 1323 foreign investment projects
France jumped five places in the 2019 WEF competitiveness report and 2 places in the top 10 most attractive countries in the world ranking number 6.
France being the leader for international industrial investments and becoming the most attractive country in innovative investments with an increase of 85% of international R&D centers,
I only have one recommendation remaining...