Elemendar Visits Paris. What Did We Learn?
I was lucky enough to represent Elemendar on a cybersecurity trade mission to the Paris region of France. We were kindly taken there by the London Mayors Office along with six other UK founded, growing cybersecurity companies.
If you are interested in the French cyber market this is a useful, short introduction to the French start up and scale up ecosystem. It was a three day trip to Paris in the sunshine and it felt at last like we were returning to the old normal. Sadly though I came back with Covid, so it seems best to not get too carried away.
Now I’m feeling a little better, I wanted to outline what we learned.
We visited Station F, which makes the claim to be the world’s biggest startup campus with more than 1000 startups. This is housed in what was a freight train depot. It’s a magnificent achievement and if you are a business looking to set up or network into France it should be on your visit list.
Station F is the home of cybe@rstationf which is the cyber specific start up programme run by Thales.
This is a very special cybersecurity school (the clue is in the name, for hacking history aficionados), offering a three year course in all aspects of cybersecurity. This is rather unique as there isn’t an age limit for you to apply, and you must be sponsored by your employer. You can come from public services, law enforcement, or any private company. They received around 800 applications for the last entry, and accept around 40 ‘students’
If you get in you do two weeks on, then four weeks back in your company and you do this for three years. The course covers all the technical aspects of cyber, plus lock picking, surveillance, deception, and other human grey arts. In the final year you can specialise.
For the final two weeks the students are taken into the woods and stressed by a crew of French Special Forces. The aim is to create a sort of French super cyber elite spread through industry and public services. I don’t know of anything similar in the UK.
Elemendar will be presenting our CTI capabilities to the students soon and we look forward to getting involved.
We met with Airbus at their Space and Defence HQ. This was high security and felt very Bond Movie. Think Palm trees and jungle atriums with fighter plane sculptures. Fascinating!
We then met with Atos and saw some of their Quantum Computers. We made excellent contacts.
We also visited Cybercom. This is a new cyber security campus which has the use of an entire, purpose built, 13 story office building in the Defence area of Paris. President Macron was due to open it a week before we visited but did not due to the war in Ukraine. This is an incredible investment, along with an additional 1 Billion Euros that France has pledged into their cyber security industry. Thus building will link public, private and educational initiatives; looks like it will become a premier European cyber hub, Go and visit. It’s impressive!
Lastly, but not least we visited Wavestone who are a small yet global consulting company. They were originally founded in the UK in the 1990’s and have since grown to around 4000 employees with a special focus now on cyber security. They are also the largest consultancy house in this area in France.
Wavestone gave us an excellent overview of the French cyber market and ecosystem after which Elemendar and the other companies on the trip presented to around fifty Wavestone cyber related consultants.