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Paris looks to start-ups to create a new wave of solutions

Jonathan Andrews travelled to Paris to see how the city is generating solutions from open innovation challenges connecting start-ups, corporates and the city government
Sabine Romon, Chief Smart City Officer, City of Paris
Photo: City of Paris

Think of Paris and images normally spring to mind of famous landmarks, culture, food and joie de vivre embedded from countless films, art, television and postcards.

It has always been a cool city–avant garde comes from the French–but Paris as a ‘smart’ city is not normally an idea you would associate with this classical tourist hotspot.

Yet the city of lights now wants to be the city of sensors. The French capital has been pushing its smart city credentials since 2010 when the city became one of the first to introduce an open data policy, making all structured data accessible by open license to promote their reuse and generate new applications. Two years prior it had begun to build an ecosystem of start-ups.

“Even when we are invited to speak about Paris a lot of cities still have a vision of ‘old Paris’ and they don’t always see us as a technology city,” explains Sabine Romon, Chief Smart City Officer, City of Paris. “This is in comparison to some other cities [nurturing start-ups] where it has only happened in the last five years. It is something we still have to explain–all the economic development and the offers we give to start-ups in Paris and about what the city is doing.”

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Paris’s data revolution How open innovation is solving the city's challenges