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France plans Open Source Innovation Cluster

by Nicolas Bossut last modified 2007-02-13 10:27

A number of initiatives are taken worldwide to harness the economical potential of open source business activities. France is a leading example : the Minister of the Economy, Finance and Industry, Thierry Breton announced his intention to build a Center of excellence for Open Source Software development.

A news of SAYER P., France plans open source centre of excellence, in Techworld, 06.12.06

Breton, previously head of France Telecom, announced the plan at a news conference to discuss a new parliamentary report on the French economy's future, "The intangible economy : tomorrow's growth". He explained that the goal of this new innovation cluster is to build a healthy, dynamic and profitable open source software industry.

A new economic and technological model, built on free software, is forming in the IT industry, Breton said. As this new opportunity opens up, it is "calling into question the dominant positions formed in the software industry over the last 15 years. " France must seize this opportunity, in a sector where the country is teeming with talent, he said.

Pierre Audouin ConsultantsPierre Audoin, a french consultants, explained in 2005 this important macro-economical evolution in his white paper called : "Les logiciels libres : mythes et réalités". Open source sector grow up rapidly in France. From 0,2 % of market share in 2002, it will be 5 % in 2010. This potential increase explains Breton's decision.

This graph shows open source software expenses evolution in France from 2005 to 2010.

A group of academics and open-source software entrepreneurs have been brought in to create the centre of excellence. Roberto Di Cosmo, professor at the University of Paris VII, will lead the group, assisted by Alexandre Zapolsky, CEO of open-source software services company Linagora. François Bancilhon, CEO of Linux distributor Mandriva and Stéfane Fermigier, CEO of open-source enterprise content management software company Nuxeo will also take part.

The group's members said the centre will allow the Paris region to renew its industrial base and slow the loss of jobs to low-cost locations. Although the Internet other tools have simplified virtual collaborative working, software development still needs a physical place, Di Cosmo said. "It would be very naïve to forget the importance of human contact, and the physical environment in which many projects grow before moving into the virtual phase. If everything is so simple in the virtual world, why are there so many developers' conferences?" he said.

Explaining the choice of Paris, Fermigier said, "We work with many people elsewhere, but the kernel is in the Paris region." While Breton is clearly most concerned with France's economic growth, the centre will also contribute to the development of the software industry across the European Union, Fermigier said.

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