The French-American Chamber of Commerce Southeast is making a move from Buckhead to an office more befitting of its new role as the host of the city’s new La French Tech community.
Awarded last year, the French government designation highlights Atlanta’s tech ascendance, proven by its growing stock of investors, startups and researchers. One goal is to raise the city’s profile in the eyes of French tech firms eyeing opportunities in the United States.
Tapped to manage the hub, the French-American Chamber will set up new offices with the innovation center at Peachtree Corners’ Curiosity Lab, the Gwinnett County-based “living lab” that utilizes city-owned 5G network and city roads to test autonomous vehicles and other smart-city systems.
The chamber’s previous home was the Maison du France at the J.W. Marriott on Lenox Road, which was co-located with the Consulate General of France in Atlanta.
The chamber is to host an opening ceremony in Peachtree Corners Sept. 9 at 147 Peachtree Parkway.
Collaboration with the city of 45,000 people and Curiosity Lab is not exactly new territory for the French-American chamber. City Manager Brian Johnson spoke at the chamber’s Crystal Peach Awards in 2019, noting that multiple French companies including Sidel had already located in the area. OVHCloud, a leading French cloud services provider, is an “ecosystem partner” in Peachtree Corners.
Speaking at the kickoff event Sept. 9 will be Stephan Donze, founder and CEO of French software dynamo AODocs, which just put down roots in metro Atlanta. Offering document management software that integrates with Google Workspace, AODocs was was recently named to the Inc. 5000 list of the country’s fastest-growing private companies, posting revenue growth of 206 percent.
Mr. Johnson said Peachtree Corners aims to help French firms bring their products to market in the United States.
“We look forward to working with French businesses to help graduate their solutions into the real world and leverage the benefits of operating here,” he said.
Sebastien Lafon, who is heading up the French Tech hub along with Chamber Executive Director Julie Lambotte, said the move could bring even more companies beyond those in fintech, gaming, biotechnology and other sectors that have already flocked to Georgia, creating 23,300 jobs through trade and investment, according to the French embassy in Washington.
He added that the tech infrastructure in Peachtree Corners brings a unique element to the conversation.
“This will enable French startups to collaborate with many innovators and prove out their technology in a unique and live environment, with real city-owned connected infrastructure that cannot be replicated in a laboratory,” Mr. Lafon said.
Even before the French Tech designation, Atlanta’s ties with the nation seemed to be deepening. The French consulate is working to set up a network of scientific researchers in Atlanta, and the city early next year will host a Toulouse company as part of in a new technology accelerator.
On Aug. 26, the chamber will hold its summer champagne fundraiser.
In October, the consulate is organizing another edition of France-Atlanta, building on a virtual forum in 2020 that ended up attracting broader participation from French executives who could join without boarding a transatlantic flight.