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Macron to inaugurate 'world's biggest tech incubator'

media The Halle Freyssinet, known now as Station F, will be home to 1,000 startups. Joel Saget/AFP

On Thursday evening, French President Emmanuel Macron will inaugurate Station F, which is presented as the world's largest start-up incubator, on the banks of the Seine.

Station F is a 34,000 square-metre facility which entirely fills an old railway depot.

It is being bankrolled by billionaire Xavier Niel, who revolutionised the French internet and mobile market with his low-cost Free service provider.

The glass hub, which aims to house up to 1,000 start-ups, will be a "very visible place that creates a strong image for Paris", Niel told the AFP news agency.

"The idea is to create a place that acts like a beacon and helps others," he added.

Station F is situated in the fast-changing 13th district -- an neighbourhood of modern high-rises, shops and cinemas that is home to the national library.

€195 a month

The space has been designed to create the feel of an American college campus, with entrepreneurs paying 195 euros a month for a spot in the hub, which is divided into three areas: "create", "share" and "chill".

The incubator is the biggest of around 40 that have sprung up in the French capital, which is competing with London and Berlin for the title of Europe's technology leader.

Emmanuel Macron has pledged to promote entrepreneurship and quash perceptions that France is "unfriendly" to business.

"I want France to be a start-up nation. A nation that thinks and moves like a start-up," he said earlier this month at a tech conference in Paris, where he announced the creation of a 10-billion-euro fund for innovation.

"This is the place to be!", he declared.

Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft have already come onboard Station F, to mentor the startups.

- with AFP

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