Paris — Facebook launched its first-ever start-up support programme in Paris on Tuesday, in a huge tech incubator funded by a French telecoms billionaire.
The social media giant said it wanted to facilitate the emergence of "independent start-ups that contribute to the data economy of France and Europe".
Speaking at the site of the future 34,000m² Station F campus, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg praised Paris as "a city of new ideas." "Entrepreneurs are the engine of economic growth here in France and around the world," she said.
Starting in April, when Station F opens in a former railway depot in the 13th arrondissement of Paris, Facebook will mentor five start-ups in the areas of e-health, digital identity verification, carpooling and personal information management.
The number of new enterprises being nurtured would grow to between 10 and 15 over time, with each company receiving six months of coaching in marketing, technological development and other areas, Facebook said.
With more than three dozen start-up incubators, Paris is vying with London to become Europe’s innovation capital, and in so doing quash perceptions that France is "unfriendly" to business.
Station F, the brainchild of telecoms titan Xavier Niel, aims to be the world’s biggest start-up campus, with up to 1,000 new ventures housed under the one roof, near the Seine River.
The entrepreneurs will be counselled by French online retailer Vente-Privee, the prestigious HEC business school and Facebook and work with on-site venture capital funds.