France wants to boost its economy and reduce unemployment through innovative projects

Robotics and driverless cars to boost French economy

France’s President Francois Hollande has outlined a ten-year roadmap to revive French industry, relying on new technologies and private investment.

Aiming to promote creation of new jobs, the plan will see the French state acting mostly as a coordinator trying to induce growth in 34 key areas including driverless cars, electric planes and a new generation of high-speed trains, while most of the investment is expected to come from private sources.

"France is a nation of inventors, pioneers and producers," Hollande said, citing France's role in previous centuries and decades in developing technologies from the steam engine to hot-air balloons and rechargeable batteries.

"We have a duty to remain so," he added, nonetheless insisting the plan was not a return to the so-called "dirigiste" state-directed industrial policies of the 1960s and 1970s.

Through a newly established Public Investment Bank, entrepreneurs will be able to get funding for innovative projects. Officials said they hoped to match every Euro of public money invested with 10 Euros raised from private investors.

State-appointed "industrial officers" will press firms to work together and develop successors to French projects of the past such as the supersonic Concorde or high-speed TGV train - both fruits of state-funded research plans.

The instigators of the plan hope the roadmap would help create and preserve 475,000 jobs over ten years. The current unemployment figures in France have reached 10 per cent, with 49,600 industrial jobs lost this year to August, according to the INSEE statistics office.

French Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg has suggested stimulating the industry by creating an online tool to help businesses that have moved abroad re-calculate production costs in France.

Currently, most companies are struggling to maintain the production in France due to high labour costs and employment laws.

Figures from March showed that for 44 companies which had returned production to France since 2009, 267 had outsourced activities, according to the Observatoire de l'Investissement.

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