The sector combines the latest expertise across the three key technologies of microelectronics, telecommunications and software leading to innovation on growing markets that include microprocessors, embedded electronics, security, telecommunications and wireless, mobiles and tablets, software and professional applications, games and 3D imaging, web and multimedia content. The ICT sector's energy directly benefits other industries on the Côte d'Azur such as aeronautics and space, tourism, health and life sciences, cleantech and services.
The SCS world-class cluster, SAME (Sophia Antipolis Microelectronics) and Telecom Valley associations, INRIA, I3S & LEAT labs (CNRS/UNS), Eurecom research & academic centres, W3C and ETSI are some of the stakeholders building a coherent and effective ecosystem that has attracted global industry leaders as well as innovative startups, and an internationally recognised pool of talents. This ecosystem is brilliantly organised in Sophia Antipolis, where SophiaTech campus, hosting many of the above actors, promotes synergies with companies and technology transfer supported by the business incubators. Public and private research facilities work together on breakthrough technologies (5G, M2M, IOT, ...) that will create the services and products of the future.
Sophia Antipolis' international reputation for its wealth of expertise attracts the sector's leading international companies like Gemalto, ARM, STMicroelectronics, Maxim Integrated Products. Today, Sophia Antipolis boasts world leaders in EDA design, Cadence and Synopsys as well as the world leader in software solutions for simulating optics : OPTIS.
These global giants sit alongside brilliant SMEs that fly the flag for Sophia Antipolis internationally, such as RivieraWaves, specialising in Bluetooth low energy technologies and next-generation wifi (802.11ac), EASII IC (electronics, microelectronics and industrial computer sciences, ASIC Design House, Electronic Design Centre) and even Scaleo-Chip, a fabless semiconductor company, working in embedded intelligence for the automotive industry.
Other companies include Acute3D, Insight SIP, Orolia, Lumilog (recently purchased by Saint-Gobain), Schneider Automation, etc.
Technologies for pioneering markets
The Côte d'Azur's microelectronics industry features a "toolbox" which promotes the deployment of innovative applications across the many areas of ICT on the Côte d'Azur.
The principal microelectronics technologies developed on the Côte d'Azur are:
- Embedded software and associated processors
- High-speed optical networks
- Man-machine interfaces
- Wireless network technologies
Microelectronics developed on the Côte d'Azur are used in fast-moving sectors such as:
- Mobile telecommunications
- Wireless markets (NFC, secure payments, smart cities)
- Embedded electronics (automotive industry)
- Aeronautics and space
A powerful ecosystem
The Sophia Antipolis-based Secured Communicating Solutions (SCS) Cluster is the only competitiveness cluster to cover the entire value chain, from silicon to its uses.
Opened in 2012, the new SophiaTech Campus promotes synergies by bringing together research laboratories (INRIA Méditerranée and the LEAT - CNRS/University laboratory of electronics, antennae and telecommunications) with the Polytech Nice-Sophia (Nice Sophia Antipolis University) and Eurecom (EIG founded by ENST - Telecom ParisTech and the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, and involving 7 international academic partners and 9 industrial partners) engineering schools. Between them they train engineers and research networks, security and mobile communications.
The Sophia Antipolis Microelectronics (SAME) association incorporates around thirty companies and drives the regional ecosystem in partnership with the SCS Cluster. At its annual SAME Conference, leading specialists discuss disruptive technology and its development potential.
Together with ARCSIS, SAME and the SCS Cluster have been the driving forces behind CIM Paca Conception, a platform of shared tools that manufacturers and researchers can use to design, test and validate new pre-industrial technologies to respond the challenges of designing integrated circuits for the next decade in the field of secured communicating solutions.
The Microelectronics industry on the Côte d'Azur
- 115 establishments
- 7,000 jobs
Source: Sirius, Chamber of Commerce & Industry Nice Côte d'Azur (CCI NCA), 2017 (data from 2016)
From the invention of the GSM standard in Sophia Antipolis in 1987 to the large-scale experiments with NFC in Nice and the advent of Bluetooth, the Côte d'Azur has made telecommunications and wireless technologies a specialty and has consequently been called the "French wireless region".
The explosion in the smartphone and tablet market is generating greater R&D requirements in the constant race to innovate. Manufacturers need more powerful, but less energy intensive processors, new applications to meet the demands of increasingly mobile users and improved communication and transaction security..
The telecoms industry on the Côte d'Azur
- 116 establishments
- 2,000 jobs
Source: Source: Sirius, Chamber of Commerce & Industry Nice Côte d'Azur, 2017 (data from 2016)
A "wireless" leader
Wireless technologies are central to the telecoms sector across the entire Côte d'Azur. While Nice has established itself as the leading contactless city and hosts the NFC World Congress, Sophia Antipolis' R&D expertise is vital for the wireless sector (Bluetooth, wifi, RFID, NFC). Here, the world's leading companies (Samsung, Gemalto, Intel, Orange, STMicroelectronics, etc.) work on next-generation products. Since the region draws talents from all over the world, these companies can access the best skills when expanding their teams.
Highly innovative SMEs at the hub of both hardware and software environments have developed on extremely specialised emerging markets. Such SMEs include UDcast (infrastructure software for high-speed internet communication by satellites and television on mobiles in broadcast mode - DBV-H), acquired by OneAccess in 2011, SmartCom (rapid internet connection mobile solutions and synchronization software), IQsuim (a pioneer in virtual SIM card technology), ASK (contactless technologies for transport), Nexess (industrial RFID applications), 3Roam (high capacity wireless network solutions), InsightSIP (RF miniaturisation and SiP technologies), GFI Labs (mobile and contactless technologies including in the field of M2M), Kuantic (creator and integrator of products and services designed for the M2M market), M2Msolutions (M2M plug and play solutions for the home), Mobiquithings (M2M connectivity provider), NodBox (solutions for smart traffic information), BuzzinBees (automatic activation of SIM cards), Newsteo (solutions for wireless data transfer for traceability, identification & supervision), ActiveOn (Open Source solutions for Enterprise Grid and Clouds), etc.
The research laboratories' proximity to the SophiaTech Campus facilitates synergies. For example, the Eurecom research laboratory offers expertise in network and security, mobile and multimedia communications while the INRIA Méditerranée teams develop projects around M2M (machine to machine) and smart devices (IoT). There are also two joint CNRS and Nice Sophia Antipolis University laboratories, namely LEAT (Laboratoire Electronique, antennes et télécommunications / Electronics, antennae and telecommunications laboratory) where the teams work on smart device systems among other things and I3S (Computing, signals and systems) with its COMRED (Communications, réseaux et systèmes embarqués et distribués / Communications, networks and embedded and distributed systems) Cluster.
There are two standards bodies based in Sophia Antipolis. ETSI, the European institute which is tasked with defining standards in terms of telecommunications and the European office of the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium), responsible for promoting the standardisation of web languages.
The telecoms cluster on the Côte d'Azur is structured around the SCS (Secured Communicating Solutions) Competitiveness Cluster, the Telecom Valley Association (around one hundred members) and the Telecom Platform Association.
The Secured Communicating Solutions Cluster
Classified as a world-class cluster in 2005, the Secured Communicating Solutions Competitiveness Cluster brings together key organisations in microelectronics, multimedia, software and telecommunications in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region. From its headquarters in Sophia Antipolis, it has created a network of over 260 major companies, SMEs, public laboratories and universities by focusing on collaborative R&D projects targeting strong growth markets such as health, tourism, security, logistics, etc.
The SCS cluster in figures:
- Nearly 302 members, 75% of which are innovative SMEs, 30 leading international companies, 18 research and training establishments
60,000 jobs in the ICT sector
1,200 researchers in the public sector
1,500 engineers trained annually
- 410 R&D projects since 2006 accounting for 1410 million Euros R&D expense
- More than 225 projects have been funded with 294 million Euros in public subsidies.
Source: SCS Cluster, 2017
Infrastructure and facilities
Shared telecoms infrastructures
With its collaborative platforms, Sophia Antipolis boasts an almost unique concentration of infrastructures for testing and developing telecom and mobile applications.
- The platform for point to point testing between smart devices belonging to CREMANT - Centre de Recherche Mutualisé sur les Antennes (a shared research centre focusing on antennae), a joint CNRS/University and France Telecom/Orange facility
- The anechoic chambers of LEAT (Laboratoire d'electronique, antennes et télécommunications of Nice Sophia Antipolis University)
- CIM Paca (PACA Integrated Microelectronics Centre) to respond to the challenges of designing integrated circuits in the field of Secured Communicating Solutions
- Other platforms supported by the SCS Cluster
Naturally positioned between sea, mountains and urban landscapes, this is an ideal region for pilot programmes, large-scale experiments and developing activities related to positioning, navigation and timing.
In a France where the software sector is worth 40 billion euros, the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region is ranked 3rd nationally (21,000 jobs). The Côte d'Azur is a real driving force for the sector with 47% of jobs. The industry continues to develop, driven by ever-increasing software application needs.
For several decades, the Côte d'Azur's software industry has helped to develop new digital uses. Boosted by the many innovations resulting from the technical expertise developed in Sophia Antipolis since the 1960s by IBM, Texas Instruments and INRIA in particular, the region's software ecosystem owes its vitality to the diverse range of applications produced, not only in partnership with the telecommunications and microelectronics clusters but also for the space industry and the health, biotechnologies and image processing markets. Today it focuses on the most promising disruptive technologies for French and European industry.
The software industry on the Côte d'Azur
- 500 companies
- 7,400 jobs
Source: Chamber of Commerce & Industry Nice Côte d'Azur, 2017 (data from 2016)
The technologies developed on the Côte d'Azur are primarily:
- 3D technologies,
- Immersive computing,
- Content digitization technologies,
- Holistic security,
- Virtualization and cloud computing,
- Progressive & intelligent manufacturing,
- Data development and intelligence.
The Côte d'Azur's software industry is involved on the following key markets:
From silicon to developing applications designed to protect mobile content, the Côte d'Azur has always been a favoured European site for disruptive solutions for use on the security markets. The SCS Cluster works to pool the expertise of an international ecosystem driven by both innovative start-ups and major corporations that have chosen the Côte d'Azur for its world renowned proficiency in this sector.
An ecosystem primarily supported by Gemalto, Accenture Labs, Aqsacom, Fortinet, IBM, Login People, SecludIT, Symantec, Trusted Logic, Verimatrix, Nellsoft, etc.
CRM and financial software
The Côte d'Azur has been a pioneer of the "paperless office" developing business and customer relationship management and financial software since the 1980s, when major French and European groups began to create the business solutions of the future. Air France Informatique, HP Compaq, IBM and others have long been the driving forces in this sector. The natural evolution of mobility and paperless billing is now being supported by global companies, who have chosen the Côte d'Azur as the place to prepare tomorrow's economic models.
An ecosystem primarily supported by BMC software, Oracle, SAP, Amadeus, Wall Street Systems, Harvest, Akio etc.
From image processing to design thinking: the emergence of a 3D sector
The benefits of particularly powerful public research which are felt beyond both French and European borders are strengthened by the many industrial successes created in or attracted to the area. INRIA's profusion of work in image processing is a reference for computer-generated imaging. Pioneers like Nicolas Ayache and the latest facilities such as the Cave 3D type immersive room help create disruptive applications that are reflected in daily uses on markets as diverse as defence, health, entertainment and gaming. 3D, a technological platform used by major corporations and local SMEs alike, has greatly increased the number of spin-offs which are subsequently bought by leading international companies such as Autodesk and Dassault Systemes. This expertise in 3D attracts broadcasters of trans-media content, ensuring that the Côte d'Azur's high-tech ecosystem is well-placed among global regions that are not only able to produce and assemble content (mash-up), but also broadcast it. A design industry has also sprung up around this technology, notably with the Toyota ED2 European automotive design laboratory which has recently been joined by the Sustainable Design School (SDS) created in the Eco-Vallée in 2012. Professionals from a wide range of sectors set their sights on the Côte d'Azur when searching for somewhere in Europe that combines technology, creativity, lifestyle and specific talents.
An ecosystem primarily supported by Dassault Systèmes, Autodesk, Doremi Labs, Nvidia, DailyMotion, Mobibase One TV, OneAcess, SDS Sustainable Design School, Toyota, etc.
Web 2.0 / 3.0
The French web adventure began in Sophia Antipolis in the 1990s with the creation of the 1st French search engine, Echos.fr. This became the 1st multi-service web portal in 1996 and was the most popular search engine in France after the Californian giant Yahoo. Sophia Antipolis also launched the 1st French online auction site in 1999, a forerunner to today's social networks. The advent of cloud computing, big data management and next-generation social networks has meant that the Côte d'Azur's web community is among Europe's most important. The abundance of talent able to develop disruptive innovations and the strategic presence of the W3C are just some of the assets that make the Côte d'Azur a European reference site.
An ecosystem supported primarily by Lagardère active – Mesdiscussions.net, Ipernity, e-Stats -Médiamétrie, wiktik.com, Accenture Labs, DynAdmic, WildMoka, Webinterpret, Full-Performance, Qwant, etc…
From startups to service companies
On the Côte d'Azur, this sector is supported by:
- A high added value service sector designed to support the ongoing research efforts of the sector's leaders. Ausy, Thales Services, Atos Intégration, Capgemini Technology Services, Atos Origin, GFI, Matis Groupe are just some of the high added value service companies offering computer services, technical consultancy and support to the outsourced R&D of many large corporations based on the Côte d'Azur.
- Innovative start-ups constantly searching for innovation.
A rich network of stakeholders assisted by public and professional support has seen the development of many excellent start-ups that are monitored by and regularly integrated into the external growth strategies of the best companies. Such gems as Ipernity (photo and video sharing), Kapsys (mobiles for the elderly and visually impaired), OpenPlug (software development tools for mobile platforms, bought by Alcatel Lucent in 2010), GridPocket (energy saving applications), Zenkko (medical and well-being mobile and application solutions), BeNomad (mapping software tools for professional uses), Beepers (professional mobile community management), Seemage (creation of 3D documentation, purchased by Dassault Systemes in 2007), Realviz (software design for processing images in 2D and 3D for the audiovisual industry, bought by Autodesk in 2008), ActiveEon (grid computing), Keeneo (video analysis software development) and many more, are a reflection of how the high-tech Côte d'Azur will look in 5 years.
A flourishing ecosystem
The software sector relies on:
- Business incubators in Nice and Sophia Antipolis
- Leading professional associations: SCS Competitiveness Cluster (and its dedicated component Medinsoft), PRIMI - Transmédia Méditerranée Cluster
- Dedicated training courses such as the Masters in Computing and Mathematics applied to finance and insurance (Polytech Nice) or the Masters in video game projects at the International Video Game Institute in Cannes
- Major events: Telemanagement Forum, International Film Festival, MIPTV, MIPCOM, IMAGINA, IDEF, etc.
A concentration of skills
The Côte d'Azur is a welcoming region and Sophia Antipolis boasts an extremely cosmopolitan population with over 70 nationalities enjoying the living and working conditions that attract talents from all over the world.
Companies looking for engineers can also draw on the local wealth of quality expertise with over 20,000 people working in the ICT sector, including some 2,500 R&D positions that have been created since 2000.
7 engineering schools, with the Ecole Polytech’Nice Sophia, the engineering program at Nice-Sophia Antipolis University and even Eurecom all being located on the SophiaTech Campus, opened in 2012. The campus can accomodate no fewer than 3,000 students and 800 research professors, all involved in technology-related training and projects.
Like the MBDS (Ubiquitous Mobility, Databases and Systems Integration) Masters at Nice Sophia Antipolis University with the DreamIt Foundation (ubiquitous mobility and ubiquity), the institutions that dispense these training course enjoy strong connections with the business world and major public research organisations such as INRIA ("inventors of the digital world") through richly populated professional networks that constantly ensure the cross-fertilisation of the latest skills.
Profiles and recruitment
The e-DRH and Sophia-Antipolis-Careers services facilitate recruitment and personnel management. They also identify how the profiles of ICT candidates meet the needs of companies in order to help develop the training courses of the future. There are currently over 33,000 profiles analysed by the ICT skills observatory.
Candidate profiles - source: e-drh
The Côte d'Azur can therefore confidently ensure the availability of high-level engineers at competitive rates.
Opened in 2012, SophiaTech, the iconic ICT campus run by Nice Sophia Antipolis University, INRIA Méditerranée and Eurecom, promotes synergies and encourages technology transfer by creating a network of stakeholders, researchers and companies. The campus is home to the SATT Sud-est team (accelerator for technology transfers) while the Paca Est and Mines Paris Tech incubators based in the neighbouring business centre, support entrepreneurs in starting companies. The SCS (Secured Communicating Solutions) Cluster champions collaborative work through joint projects and supports VSEs and SMEs internationally. Its dedicated component, Medinsoft brings together 140 editors representing 2,300 jobs and a turnover of €300M. The Telecom Valley association drives the ecosystem through its various commissions including one dedicated to open source. A new EIT ICT Labs (European Institute of Innovation and Technology) has set up in Sophia Antipolis in 2014, partnering with ETSI.
6 reasons to choose the Côte d'Azur
- The PACA region is one of the rare European regions to enjoy a critical mass of talents and resources across the three fields of microelectronics, telecoms and software.
- Sophia Antipolis, the Europe's leading technology park, has the largest concentration of foreign-owned R&D centres in France - after Paris. It is the location for powerful professional networks, from the SCS Cluster to the W3C and a place where start-ups and leading international companies work together on a set of test and development platforms which are almost unique in the world. Sophia's research and development facilities are producing major innovations for the internet, mobile communications and software (IBM, INRIA, Orange Labs, W3C, etc.).
- The Research and Development Tax Credit (Crédit Impôt Recherche - CIR) that benefits R&D investments is considered to be the most generous incentive in Europe.
- The Côte d'Azur offers an attractive lifestyle and a stimulating professional environment for ICT specialists who have graduated from its universities or come from other parts of the globe.
- The region can provide appropriate property offers for both small and large R&D teams in a concentrated professional environment which is rich in contacts and business opportunities.
- Nice Côte d’Azur Airport provides excellent air links to major European, Middle Eastern and North American cities.
The ICT industry on the Côte d'Azur
- 4,91 billion euros in turnover (50% export)
- 1,740 companies representing 24,452jobs
137 foreign companies employ 8,425 people (2016)
Over 9,000 jobs created since 2000, including some 2,500 R&D roles
- 2,200 students graduate every year with a Masters or PhD.
- 185 companies created in 2014 and 338 in 5 years.**
- 110 fundraisers generating € 222 million euros since 2010 **
- 88 awards, including 20 international awards, have been gained in the past 5 years**
Source: Sirius, CCI NCA, 2016 for the Alpes-Maritimes & Monaco. ** Source: CCI/French Tech Côte d'Azur, 2014
137 foreign-owned companies in the ICT industry employ over 8,425 people in the Alpes-Maritimes (Sirius CCI NCA 2016, data from 2015).
Accent semi, Aisin Seiki, Alcatel-Lucent, Altran Praxis, Amadeus, ARM, ASK, Autodesk, BMC Software, Bosch, Broadcom, Cadence Design Systems, Cisco Systems, EASII IC, Epcos, Ericsson, Fortinet, Freescale Semiconductors, Gemalto, Hitachi, HP, Huawei, IBM, Icera, Intel, Intel Mobilité, Insight SIP, Magneti Marelli, Mentor Graphics, MAXIM, MStar Semiconductors, NRF Lab, Orange Labs, Rivierawaves, Safecoms, Samsung LSI, SAP Labs, ST-Ericsson, Synopsys, Symantec, Verimatrix, Wall Street Systems...