France’s policies on open source and open data are helping to create a market for French ICT service providers, says Didier Tranchier, Professor of Innovation Management at Institut Mines-Telecom, a research institute.
Professor Tranchier, who coaches and invests in high tech companies, spoke at the Mindtrek OpenMind conference in Tampere (Finland) in September. “Open data, open content and open source have deep roots in France”, said Tranchier. “We started this in 1789.”
According to Tranchier, there is a direct link between the government’s policies and the rapid growth of open source firms. A 2013 report by Conseil National du Logiciel Libre, a trade group representing some three hundred ICT firms, puts the total revenue of its members at EUR 2.5 billion - or 6% of the total revenue of France’s software and ICT service firms. “That year, France’s open source sector already employed some 30,000 people and saw its revenue grow some 68%”, Tranchier quoted CNLL.
A prime example of an open source firm made possible by France’s favourable policies is Anevia, said Tranchier. The firm was founded by the original developers of the open source multidmedia player VLC. Anevia was listed on the Paris stock market in June 2014. Other examples include Linagora, Nuxeo and Talend.
Similarly, France’s open data policies are helping to develop new ICT firms, Tranchier said. Examples include Snips and Parrot. The former is building big data applications and in June, raised EUR 6.3 million in investment capital. The latter builds high tech wireless products including minidrones, bluetooth sensors, wireless headset and hands-free car kits. “Around each product, there is a community of open source developers that develop applications and share their code on Github”, said Tranchier.
The policies are also influencing France’s education sector, said professor Tranchier, with 42 as the clearest example. “This school was founded in 2013 by digital entrepreneur and billionaire Xavier Niel, and has no professors, no classrooms, no dorm rooms and no tuition fees.” The school takes in 1000 pupils each year, teaching them how to develop software.
"The open movement will continue to spread to many new fields", said Tranchier. He anticipates a world-wide revolution: “resulting in the liberty of humanity. In French, ‘open’ translates as ‘liberty’ and open source and open standards promote democracy and liberty for everyone.”