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From croissants to collaborations - my tech month in France

Charles Ste-Marie
Charles Ste-Marie
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Since spring 2022, I’ve had the pleasure of working as a member of OSEDEA’s sales team in business development. And while I’m based out of our Quebec headquarters, the unique setup of our growing company—bridging international offices in Montreal, Nantes, and Toulouse—permits employees like me to spend 2-6 weeks a year from another location as part of our work-from-anywhere program.

As such, I took a month-long stint in France this September, and given how we’re building up our brand recognition and developing our presence in the French market, this was a timely move. From the boulevards of Paris to the vineyards of Bordeaux, here’s a detailed account of my journey and insights from this transformative month:

  • Week One: Paris - My trip began with five days in Paris, a city that effortlessly combines business with pleasure. I engaged with the General Delegation of Quebec in Paris, forging crucial partnerships, and had the privilege of interacting with several dynamic startups. By the week's end, I made my way to Nantes to prepare for the much-anticipated Nantes Digital Week.
Nantes Digital Week 2023
                   Nantes Digital Week 2023  
  • Week Two: Nantes - Nantes was bustling with activity. Attending the launch event was a highlight, marking my first interaction with the majority of our Nantes-based team. Various events, from Airbus Atlantic's tech showcase (exploring the subject of humans and digital in aeronautics) to a walkthrough of the Jules Verne innovation center (for a presentation on robotic manufacturing innovations), gave me deep insights into the digital wave gripping the region. We also met with valuable partners at La Cantine and Development Nantes–Saint-Nazaire.
  • Week Three: Brest, La Baule & Nantes - This week took me further into France's technological heartland. Brest introduced me to the workings of French Tech, while La Baule presented an eco-conscious industrial landscape with the Rencontres pour une Industrie Durable et Écoresponsable (RIDE) event organized by the Pôle EMC2. Nantes, meanwhile, continued its spree of digital innovations, where we were present for the signing of the joint declaration on ethical AI between the Printemps Numérique and the Nantes Digital Week. This signature further solidifies the bridge between Nantes and Montréal for exchanges on various digital issues. We’re very proud to represent one success of this collaboration, since OSEDEA’s arrival in France more than four years ago.
RIDE - Rencontre pour une industrie durable et écoresponsable
                   RIDE - Rencontre pour une industrie durable et écoresponsable  
  • Week 4: Bordeaux & Toulouse - As September drew to a close, Bordeaux offered me a blend of business talks over coffee and a weekend getaway to Saint-Emilion for some wine tasting, while Toulouse presented its unique tech dynamics.

Takeaways

The synergy between our Montreal and Nantes offices is palpable. From team breakfasts to collaborative discussions, the effort to function as a unified entity, despite geographical distances, is commendable. My interactions with partners like La Cantine and Nantes Métropole, emphasized the significance of nurturing these relationships.

Collaboration France/Canada - Charles Ste-Marie et Sébastien Moreau
                   Collaboration France/Canada - Charles Ste-Marie et Sébastien Moreau  

The French Market is technologically astute. A significant focus on AI, combined with a robust manufacturing industry and a thriving startups landscape, presents immense collaboration opportunities. Over the course of the month, my interactions were with a range of startups to mature businesses. What struck me most was their shared zeal for innovation. Casual chats over coffee and croissants often evolved into brainstorming sessions, potentially shaping the future of tech collaborations.

Looking ahead

As I wrap up this recount, the excitement for my planned return in February is already building. Our mission was to fortify OSEDEA's presence in France, and I believe we've laid a strong foundation. From my end, bridging the European charm with North American dynamism is the goal. While markets differ, the universality of innovation, passion, and collaboration remains the same. Let’s see where our French connections take us in 2024!

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